How Do You Know If Your Goal is the Right Goal?

7 questions to help you decide.

In my book, Spiritual Activism: Keys for Personal and Political Success, I begin with my story of the day I was sitting, more like sprawled from exhaustion, on the beach in Doha, becoming cognizant that I was climbing the wrong ladder. The epiphany was awakened by the fact that I had missed watching my daughter evolve in her sailing skills, and here my little girl was on the water navigating the boat so masterfully and waving with enthusiasm to a mother who was finally present to witness.

How did I know that I was climbing the wrong ladder? I was feeling guilty towards my daughter. I knew I had sacrificed precious time with both my children, not being there to witness them do what they’re passionate about. To do what?! When you are investing your time and energy in things that compromise your family, your health and well-being, and anything that truly matters to you, that’s climbing the wrong ladder. When I complained to my older brother about how I was feeling, he helped me gain clarity by asking: what’s career, anyway? And he got me to imagine my achievements at the end of my life.

So, how do you know if your goal is the right goal? Here are 7 questions to help you decide:

  1. Imagine you’re on your deathbed. Is the goal you are pursuing something you are going to be proud you achieved, or is it in practice going to compromise the principles you say you follow?
  2. How does that goal make you feel? Not logically, how that goal fits into your life plan or what you think is good, but how does it make you feel?
  3. Does pursuing this goal help you to utilize your gifts and strengths or are you hiding parts of you, your gifts, or strengths?
  4. Does pursuing this goal help you to expand or strengthen your mind, body and spirit, or does its pursuit put undue stress on these?
  5. Will this goal contribute to your well-being and abundance and at the same time facilitate the well-being and abundance of others? Or, will you be sacrificing or harming either yourself or others in its pursuit?
  6. Create a vision and mission statement for your life purpose. No matter how tiny or big this goal is, on a scale of 1–10 how closely is it aligned to your purpose?
  7. Ultimately, does this goal facilitate love or does it comprise giving and being love?

The scale of the goal you are considering really doesn’t matter. Remember it’s the little things, the daily habits and choices that add up to big things and our overall life direction and impact. On my personal journey, I have sacrificed things to pursue specific goals. From this experience, I know now to ask myself these simple but powerful questions to gain clarity. It’s not just one question that really creates an epiphany but all these questions together. At the end of the day, the biggest question to help guide you is #7: is this thing going to expand or compromise love?

It is, indeed, the ultimate and overriding question. I have compromised #5 where I have sacrificed or taken risks to enable the well-being of others, and together aligned with #2 and #6, felt that by doing so I was being of deep service. I have also learned that doing things to be of service might create wonderful things yet things that are wholly unsustainable with my well-being compromised. That didn’t factor in much when I was younger. But through time, having worked with literally hundreds of activists, entrepreneurs and change-makers and navigated my own journey of pursuits, I now sit with question #5 for much, much longer. If in doubt, the only exacting ingredient is the measure of love for all concerned.