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Meditation and Goal Setting

Meditation and Goal Setting

November 24, 2020

Meditation and Goal Setting


Every morning I wake up, make coffee and do a 10 minute meditation session using the Waking Up app from Sam Harris.  I started doing this in February of 2019 and try to do it every day.  I read something on LinkedIn where one of my connections named Jeff Walker said he had been meditating consistently for the past 20 years and it had really helped him.  After that, I saw another post from Tim Ferriss, the guy who wrote the book, “The 4 Hour Work Week” and he suggested Sam Harris’ meditation app, so I decided to try it.

The other day, during the 10 minute meditation, Sam said something about each moment just happening.  There is no destination.  Even when you have goals or dreams, it isn’t like you get to a place and stop.  Sam talks a lot about mindfulness and the essence of consciousness.  After I listened to him, it made me think about goal setting.  It’s coming up on the time of year where there are going to be lots of articles and posts written about goal setting and achievement in the new year.  In light of the craziness of 2020, I wanted to share a little about what I am currently thinking in regards to goal setting and achieving your dreams.

What Do You Want?


This is always a hard question.  Have you ever sat down and thought about what you really want?  It sounds kind of silly, but I bet most people don’t know what they want.  They talk in generalities like, I want to be healthy or I want to be rich, but they don’t have a concrete idea about what they really desire.

I read a post by another LinkedIn connection named Penny Phillips.  She owns a company called Thrivos Consulting.  Their mission is to support financial firms and advisors as they embrace change and discover new ways to thrive.   She wrote a piece that suggested financial advisors should not have a goal like a certain amount of assets under management.  I’ve always been guilty of having a goal like that.  It sounds so much more precise to say something like, my goal is to have $100 million of AUM by the end of 2021.  But it does nothing to answer the question, what do I want?  What will that number do for my life?  Does it actually help me achieve what I want?  Is getting to that number going to cause more harm than good?  If so, how does that affect my wife and my kids?  Will my health suffer because I am focused on some arbitrary number? 

What’s the right answer?  It probably shouldn’t be a number (in my case) or something broad and banal.  Dan Sullivan has his R Factor question.  It basically says, if we were meeting 3 years from now, what has to have happened personally and professionally for you to be happy with your progress?  I think he uses 3 years because it is far enough in the future for real change to occur but it’s not so far into the future that you get lost.  The idea is you think about the end of November 2023 and try to envision what you want your life to look like and how you will feel when your life is actually like that. 

There are other tools you can use.  We used to write a story to ourselves.  It would go along the lines of, it’s November 2023 and things are going great.  Then you would write down in the present tense what your ideal life looks like.  What house are you living in?  What kind of car are you driving?  Maybe you want to take a trip to Hawaii, so you write about the awesome vacation to Maui you took with your family.  You get the point.  It has something to do with your subconscious mind. 

I went to another goal setting class where you said your goals into a tape recorder and there was some famous classical music piece blasting in the background.  The song he used was Spring from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.  Here’s the link to that song:

The teacher’s theory was your brain is very good at remembering music, so, if you had your goals mixed with the music, it would help you reach your goals.

The point of this is, you need to take time to think about what you really want out of your life.  It’s so easy to get caught up in life’s minutiae.  You have to get to work.  The house payment is due in 7 days.  My boss is a jerk.  My son wants a new car.  I have a dentist appointment next week.  Somehow, in the midst of all of this, try to take the time and really think about what you want!

What Are You Willing To Do?


This is where mindfulness and recognizing the temporary nature of each moment comes into play when trying to achieve what you really want in this short life.  If you think about it, even with our expanded lifespans compared to previous generations, the life expectancy in the United States for a newborn child is just under 80 years today.  That is 29,200 days.  At age 57, according to a calculator I found online, I have a 75% chance of living to age 87 and my life expectancy is 95.  That means I have 13,870 days left.  How do I want to spend the next 332,880 hours?  Who do I want to spend my time with?  What do I want to do with that time?  This, to me is the essence of goal setting. 

Are there changes you need to make in your life?  The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results.  I work with a couple of coaches who talk about noticing and observing.  Observing is seeing what other people are doing.  That’s pretty easy.  Noticing is seeing what you are doing.  This is hard.  But when you have a clear picture of what you want, it is probably easier to notice if the things you are doing are getting you to the place you want to go.  In Sam Harris’ view, there is no destination.  However, by being mindful of your situation and noticing what you are doing, you become aware of how you are spending your time and who you are spending your time with. 

Financial Planning Can Help


When you think about what you want in life, quite a bit of it takes money.  Obviously, we don’t need money for all of the things we want, but making money, having money, saving money, etc. sure do have a big influence in a lot of people’s lives and their goals.  If you have a clear picture of what you want and know what you are willing to do to achieve that vision, having a good relationship with money is really helpful.

There is guy who is a coach for financial advisors named Bill Bachrach.  He has a tool called the Financial Road Map for Living Life on Purpose.  The first section on the Road Map asks, What’s Important to You?  When you answer that question, then the person asking questions asks, why is that important to you?  After you answer that, they again ask, why is that important to you?  Usually after asking 5-7 times, you get to the real answer to the question, What’s Important to You?  I have been on the receiving end of those questions and it is super annoying, at first.  But after going through the exercise, your why becomes clear.

After that you can figure out what you’re willing to do.  How much volatility can you handle?  Do you really want to be a landlord?  Tesla might be the greatest company in the world or it might end up bankrupt.  In the early 2000s Amazon lost 90% of its value over two years.  If you had $100,000 it was worth $10,000 two years later.  What would you do?  Could you handle that type of volatility?  Do you want to?  Do you need to in order to achieve what you really want?  These are questions that need to be answered.



Meditation and Goal Setting.  What do you REALLY want?  What are you willing to do in order to get it?  There is no final destination.  Each moment is fleeting.  You have an unknown number of days to accomplish your dreams.  How do you want to spend that time?  Who do you want to spend that time with?  My mom used to tell me, be careful what you ask for because you might get it.  I hope this has been helpful.  Thanks for reading!  KB