A Year of Purpose-Driven Resolve
Already you are seeing articles and posts about goal achievement in 2024! When I was a child I got tired of people asking, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I had no idea. I was a kid! You may have a similar reaction when well-meaning people ask you about goals. A more confounding question, perhaps even more important than goals, may be, “What is your purpose in life?” Goals and purpose are linked but they are not the same thing.
Turning to that renowned fount of wisdom, Pinterest, a thought-provoking quote appeared, entitled “What is my purpose in life?” According to “Note to Self – Tao & Zen,” the answer was, “Your problem is that you equate purpose with goal-based achievement. God or the Universe or morality isn’t interested in your achievements…just your heart. When you choose to act out of kindness, compassion, and love, you are already aligned with your true purpose.”
Purpose is “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.” A goal may be seen as “the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.” Setting a goal may be the first step in accomplishing one’s purpose. Tao is a metaphysical concept found in Confucianism and Zen is school of Buddhism which reflects efforts to discern a person’s reason for being on this planet as a member of the human race.
Rather than consult a mystic sitting cross-legged on a remote mountain top for wisdom, one might turn to the Baltimore Catechism, published in 1885 as a teaching aid for American Catholic Christians, a series of questions and answers. Question one asks, “Who made the world?” A. God made the word. Q. Who is God? A. God is the creator of heaven and earth, and of all things. Q. Why did God make you? A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.” The forgoing answer is a powerful revelation related to your overall purpose while you’re living on this planet.
A basic tenet of prudent financial planning is that we are mortal beings and therefore estate planning is an important part of a comprehensive financial plan. Virtually everyone reading this has lost a loved one, a close friend, an acquaintance, and we all know we will die at some point. Yet we put off thinking about it as it is a grim thought. According to PlannedGiving.com, “About 68% of Americans lack a valid will! Of that very large group, most have never even created an estate plan or made plans for their legacy.”
Recently this writer lost my spouse of fifty-five years after a period of intensive caregiving. I’ve lost dear friends and other family members in the last few years. It’s about being beyond the crest of the age wave. Someone recently asked me what my overriding purpose was, and I replied, “To get to Heaven and take as many people with me as I can.” I believe in salvation, in an afterlife, and of an accounting. Everything I worked for on earth, all my possessions, will be left behind. What do I say when God asks, “Did you read my book?” “Did you feed my sheep?” “Did you set a good example?”
Goals, then, are really statements as to how you will go about fulfilling your purpose, much of it surrounding your relationship to others. If you are married with a spouse and children, you want to provide for them, meet needs, and satisfy responsibilities. You may set physical fitness goals so that you are healthy enough to accomplish and deliver on promises and obligations. You may set financial goals because you want to achieve financial independence, which allows you to do for those who depend on you. You may set investment goals so as to fund specific objectives like paying for educations, weddings, supporting aging parents, giving to charity. You cover the “what if?” questions with well-crafted insurance strategies and a legal framework encompassing living and testamentary estate planning in case of death, disability, prolonged illness, liability and lawsuits. Financial goals are mileposts on the road to financial independence and self-sufficiency.
One thing I have learned as a husband, father, and grandfather is that the children are watching. What have I taught them by example? What example am I setting for my spouse, the people I work with and associate with? How do New Year’s resolutions relate to family, friends, neighbors? “Money goals” are meant to serve what end? Yes, when the Taoist says, “When you chose to act out of kindness, compassion, and love, you are already aligned with your true purpose,” it relates to higher callings. “Purpose,” then is the reason, your raison d'être, the most important reason or purpose for your existence. Goals are how you get there.
Plan well, pilgrim. You know the ultimate destination.