Goal Setting: Know What Works and What Doesn’t?


I’ve had a number of questions about setting goals for various types of problems. So today I want to go through the basics of goal setting, how to set effective goals and then cover ways of setting goals that don’t work so well.

People have asked me, “Why do I need to set a goal? I’d rather just chant.” You can do that of course. If you chant without a goal, your life will take a progressive upward direction and that’s fine.

But, if you have a specific target you want to accomplish, it’s important to set a goal. If you examine people’s experiences you will see that the more specific a goal, the better the result. Think about it this way. If you were going to fly across the ocean, how would you know where you were going to end up if you didn’t have a destination? When you set a goal you are communicating with the universe, and you want the message to be received.

You want to demonstrate that you are serious about your goal, so make sure you are consistent in your practice and SGI activities. If your goal is a big leap or really important, up your chanting time. Daisaku Ikeda says that when you chant earnestly, your “strong and focused prayer takes shape as wisdom, which in turn produces all sorts of ideas.” September 2019, Living Budddhism, p. 33

Effective Goal Setting

First: You want your goal to be specific. You want to show the universe what your goal will look like when it is achieved. Let’s say you’re remodeling a house. Have a clear vision of what you want your house to look like upon completion.

You can be very specific. One practitioner set a goal like this. A new job with a specific salary, and health insurance. She wanted to drive to work against the traffic, and be no more than ten minutes from work. Finally she wanted the company to pay for her college tuition in human resources. She set a time frame of 30 days. Her goal, with every specific she requested, locked in at noon on the 30th day.

Second; See your goal as already accomplished. If you can’t see it as already done, imagine yourself in the future looking back at your completed goal.

 Goals That Don’t Work Well

1. An unclear goal or vague goal produces unclear or vague results.
2. Hopes or wishes. This is when you hope for something but haven’t yet made the decision or determination that you are going to accomplish it, no matter what. When you make that decision, you have told the universe you are serious.
3. Trying to change someone else’s behavior.
You can always chant for the happiness of another person but you can’t decide what they should do . You can’t control their behavior by chanting. They have to make their own decisions. If you are suffering in the situation, chant to change your own karma to suffer. When that changes the whole situation will change.When you chant for their happiness then events will move them in that direction. No one knows what is best for another person and you might be in for some surprises as the situation works its way out.
4. Negative goals. That means chanting about the problem not the solution. For ex let’s say you want to lose weight. If you chant to lose 20 pounds you are focusing on the problem. Instead chant for your goal weight.

Make a Determination

Make a determination you are going to accomplish this goal no matter what.

Pay Attention to Anything Goal Related

Once you’ve set your goal, pay attention to anything that comes to you regarding your goal. When it comes, ask yourself how you can use it to move forward. This could be ideas that show up during your chanting time. When I was writing Your Path to Unshakeable Happiness, ideas came so fast that I took notes. Sometimes I ended up with several 8-11 sheets of paper covered in ideas. Ideas can come other ways too, from other people, from books, from something you hear or see. If you are alert to anything pertaining to your goal, you will capture them.

Another way answers might come is through an internal nudge to take one path or another. That is your intuition talking and it comes straight from the universe. If you make a decision to go in a certain direction but don’t feel right about it, you should pay attention to that feeling.

Take Action:

The universe works through us when we take action. Just chanting alone is not enough.

You may have to deal with fears or doubts or all the reasons why something can’t happen, as you move forward. When you set a goal you are pushing the envelope so it is natural that you might have some of those feelings. Don’t let them stop you. You will never get your goal if you pay attention to those feelings and back off. We are all far more capable than we realize.

Negative Thinking Can Block Results

Let’s say you are chanting for a goal and you have doubts about whether you can ever get it. If you allow yourself to wallow in those doubts, the doubts become your prayer. You don’t want to project that to the universe, so, when you become aware that you are looking at the problems or that you are having doubts, quickly refocus on your completed goal – what you want.

This is difficult if what is happening in your life seems to point towards your goal not being achieved. Perhaps you have been chanting for something for a long time but don’t seem to be making progress. Or perhaps you are coming on the last day of a time you have set to accomplish your goal and it hasn’t happened yet. We’ve been taught by our culture to trust what we see and hear. Now we’re being asked to trust the Mystic Law instead.

Just remember that when you chant you are connected to the Mystic Law, and because of that connection you are never deadlocked. You have to rely on it, not what appears to be happening around you.

Results Come from Inside You to Manifest Outside

I think one of the hardest things for practitioners to realize is that our results come from the inside of us to manifest in the outer world.

For any goal that is a stretch we are going to have to change in some way. What you have today is the result of beliefs and thinking from the past.

If you set a goal that is a stretch, you are going to have to change what you are doing. Perhaps you have to give up a defeatist attitude, or take full responsibility for creating the situation. Perhaps you have to grow in some way before you can achieve your goal.

We are very good at resisting change. That resistance can hinder your progress on your goal.


Today we looked at effective goal setting and ways of setting goals that don’t work well.
We looked at how answers come and the importance of taking action.
We looked negative thinking and how it can hinder results.
Finally, we examined the fact that we are going to have to change in some way to achieve our goal, as results come from the inside out.

Here are some related links

How Responsible Are We For Our Problems? https://wp.me/p3V1J9-17J
Chanting But Not Feeling You Are Getting Answers from the Universe ? https://wp.me/p3V1J9-162
Know Why It’s Important to Master Your Mind? https://wp.me/p3V1J9-17w

For an extended discussion on this topic get my book  Stepping Stones, Workbook and Guide to Buddhist Practice from this website or from www.amazon.com.

Script Download: goal setting 1


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