Vedanta and SMARTe goals – who am I, what do I want

When you set SMARTe goals, you become accountable for what you want to see happen through the emotional energies – the small ‘e’ – you invest in them. The more involved you are in that way, the less likely you will abandon your goals especially when the going gets tough. And it begins with knowing who you are and what you really, really want.

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First things, first. A goal is just a dream till you take action. It all boils down to action, often times massive action that gets you to your preferred reality. So let’s be really clear that nothing is achieved by dreaming that the universe will deliver if you wished hard enough. Nope. But before you decide on the ‘how of action’ you need to have the ‘how of purpose’. Ask yourself: If I were to let go of all fears of financial insecurity, disapproval from family and friends, etc, what would I be happiest doing? How will it serve my higher purpose? How will it improve my life? How will it serve humanity?

This is probably the most challenging part of the process so please don’t rush it. There are several things you can do to get a big and clear picture. You can ask folks you trust for honest feedback, do a personality test, go on a silent retreat for a couple of days, and set aside regular time for meditation. You’d be surprised at what will come into your awareness as you make time to sit regularly. As intuition grows you are more likely to see what synchronicity puts in front of you. Your thoughts are energy in nature and like attracts like. But remember that what you want should be in line with the universal laws of spirituality and these are non-negotiable. The law of cause and effect reigns supreme.The Japanese concept of Ikigai totally resonates with this saying: You live your bliss when what you offer matches what the world needs. We see this all the time in our daily work where our main role as helping professionals is to help folks identify their preferred reality. They don’t like what they have because they are suffering. Okay, If you don’t like what you have right now, then let’s see what it is you want instead. But, How will that improve things? Using this diagram, we chunk up and chunk down (NLP teaches this). People get realistic about who they are – skills, talents and unspoken desires deep down. And finally how these can best be expressed in more fulfilling ways. It’s really spiritual work we do.

At the end, it could be something small and not necessarily a total overhaul of one’s life. Just a slight change of attitude or belief can make a world of difference. A lot of it depends on where you are in your life stage. An adolescent just finishing school wants different things from an adult in midlife. So, like we said earlier, don’t rush this part. Take your time to understand what it is you really, really want after which the next step is to translate it into a SMARTe goal. Why the small ‘e’?

That’s because a SMARTe goal is an emotionally-driven goal. That’s the secret behind another non-negotiable universal law – the law of manifesting. Like attracts like. The emotional energies will draw to you to the resources you need. However, the catch is, be careful what you wish for. Every energetic pattern arising from any emotion will be subjected to the other universal law we spoke of earlier – the law of cause and effect. The ancient rishis call these energetic imprints, samskaras. We know them best as karma. You deepen the iniital imprint with repetitive thought or behaviour and they will grow in strength.

SMARTe – Specific

Be clear and specific in what you want. Let me add a couple of questions here to help you along: What do I want to accomplish? Why is it important to me? For example, you might want to feel better so losing excess weight has become a priority. But by how much and when? Here you might say, “I want to lose 10 kg in 30 days time and this is what I am going to do in terms of the way I eat and exercise.” Your goal to lose weight is now translated into specific action and a timeline.

SMARTe – Measurable

A goal that can be measured will allow you to evaluate progress and provide yardsticks for any corrections you need to make to get you back on track. For example, in order to eat more healthily or to save more money towards a bigger goal, you want to be able to cook in for four evenings each week and eschew takeouts. You start saving your receipts and noting down on your calendar where your money goes on food and how much of it you are spending and you are able to correct yourself once you deviate from your goal. Four times a week and not beyond $20 for each meal are yardsticks you can measure.

SMARTe – Attainable

A goal should be attainable and actionable. It is an end-point that you work towards using specific actions. Identify what these actions are. For example, for better fitness, you might make it a goal to walk at least 6 miles a day or join a fitness program that suits your timing and needs. You might want to start small and achievable and let it compound with each small step instead of one big leap. It’s more attainable and less daunting to lose 10 pounds than 50 in a month.

SMARTe – Realistic

A goal is realistic and has relevance when it is closely aligned with your values. So, if you are trying to lose excess weight, ask yourself: How is this goal meaningful to me? Your answer might be that you want to look and feel better and not run the risk of developing diabetes. Let’s dig in a little deeper: Does the goal match your needs and values? And this might lead you to say, it sure does because being healthy means freedom to work, travel and do the things you like. It means a great deal to you that you don’t lose your independence to an illness. Be especially realistic when it comes to financial goals, how much it can grow with each incremental step depends on what you can accomplish realistically to earn that money.

SMARTe – Time-bound

It helps you know how you are doing when your gaol is given a timeline which you then break down further into smaller, day-to-day steps. Giving yourself 30 days to lose 10 pounds means you are going to hold yourself accountable to stay on track with your fitness regime. You weigh in every day. And you chart your progress by asking yourself: Have I done what I set out to do to move me closer to my goal? In those 30 days, would it also include self-discipline like cutting down on chocolates and desserts and choosing healthier options on a daily basis? Having a timeline pushes you to get serious.

SMARTe – emotionally-driven

Frankly, a goal that can create fire in your belly, where you can say that no matter what you’re going to achieve it, is known as a passionate and emotionally-driven goal. How excited are you about this goal? Do you feel inspired and motivated to accomplish it? Are you able to keep motivation high throughout the time frame you’ve set for your goal? For instance, there is always at least a secondary gain to the primary gain you get from any goal. It always links back to a sense of feeling good and that’s what makes it an emotional investment. You’d need this to keep you going the long haul. Imagining how you’d feel and look when you finally attain your goal and constantly reinforcing that image in your mind with your emotional energy is part of the imprinting process based on the law of cause and effect. Remember like attracts like. But also remember you reap what you sow.

Keep track with a journal

And there you have it! A SMARTe goal that keeps your juices flowing to get you to your end-point. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a small or big goal, it’s still the same process. Now, all you have to do is follow through to the next important step which is tracking your progress in a journal. Make it a practice to note down on a daily basis what you feel, did, said, planned, or even failed to keep up with your goal. A study showed that those who documented their inner journey in this way were on average 33 percent more successful in accomplishing their goals compared with those who simply thought about their goals. It doesn’t matter if you choose to put pen to paper or fingers to a keyboard but keep track!

The ultimate secret

The rishis of ancient India have written it all down in and the scriptures are still relevant to this day. Yogi adepts capable of amazing feats have proven it. It just boils down to how we intend to use the universal laws that govern all things. The law of potentiality and the law of manifesting. The law of cause and effect and the law of giving and receiving. These are just some of the laws. So the real secret lies in aligning yourself with the divine will. This is the part that is mostly left out in the new age-y law of attraction. Sure, we have to survive in a material world but what about the spiritual. Underlying the four circle of Ikigai in the diagram above, there is a spiritual foundation. We encourage you to take a look at the Advaita Vedanta teachings in your quest for a better life. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you no longer want.