Monday, June 30, 2014

Body Soul and Spirit (Setting Goals With Congruence)

In order to achieve goals, I believe we must set goals. In order to obtain a house, a car, inner peace, or a good marriage, we must start with a clear understanding of what we truly desire before we can work towards achieving that end. If we lack goals, then life just happens to us, like a ship without a rudder, drifting where wind and current would take her. As you begin to set goals, set reasonable goals, goals you can believe in, goals you can clearly visualize. As you practice and become more adept with this process, you will naturally attempt greater goals, ones you can not imagine today.


Goals need to be simply stated and easily understood. This is as true for politicians attempting to direct the course of a nation as it is for me and for you. If you can’t put a goal in a short simple phrase or sentence, you really don’t yet know what you want. Complex goals also seem to frequently contain internal contradictions. Of course a great complexity of different actions flow out of simple goals. I want to build a custom house is a simple goal but there is money to be saved, loans to be obtained, a prime contractor, subcontractors to be identified, and a lot of work to be done over the course of the next year. Some management gurus consider the best example of such a goal to be the one stated by President John F Kennedy at the beginning of his administration, “We will put a man on the moon in less than 10 years.” It was a goal that captured the imagination and energy of the entire nation.


Always start with a goal that is stated in positive language. If you don’t do this, the odds are high that you will never achieve that goal. Consider; one of my most vexing problems is weight. Losing weight is a negative goal. Nobody wants to lose things. Not surprisingly, most people who set out to lose weight either fail or lose it and after a while find what they have lost. A better way to frame such a goal would be to state something like, “I want to run in the 5K race held by my favorite charity this October.” That is a positive goal that would result in weight loss. I have read the highest probability of a successful weight loss program would be the one undertaken by a bride to be as she plans her wedding. For these women looking good in that dress on the most important day of her life is a very positive goal.

Of Benefit to You

Following up on the last paragraph, losing weight to look stunning in a wedding dress is a goal that is perceived to be of enormous benefit in the mind of a bride. However, looking stunning in a tuxedo is not perceived as being of any particular benefit to this tired, balding, retired engineer. Obviously I need some other motivation.

Believable by You

Many people try and set goals they really don’t believe are possible. Generally they do not reach these goals. This is the point at which faith comes into play. We all have different measures of faith in different areas of life. Some of our levels of faith come out of our experience and some is based on the Grace of God. It is often said that an elephant can be eaten, but only one bite at a time. Try this with goal setting. Set a little short term goal, a goal you know you can reach. Then set a bigger goal and build your faith by saying, “I know I can do this, because God helped me do that.” Build a track record of success, one little bite at a time.


Pick a goal that can be measured. How do you measure, “I will be a happier person?” There is really no practical way to chart your movement towards happiness. However, if your life style or even your brain chemistry is making you unhappy, there are things that can be done and goals that can be set. Your unhappiness could perhaps be helped with an antidepressant. Maybe your job is putting you in an early grave. A first step goal might be, “I will apply for at least one new job in the next month.” Maybe your situation would improve if you just took your eyes off yourself and tried to help another. The goal, “I will volunteer 3 hours a week as a tutor at the local high school.” There is always a way to set a goal that will move you in the direction you want to go that can be quantified and tracked.

You Can Control It

Although control is not often included in lists such as this one, I think it is something worth considering. I can set a goal of putting aside 15% of my pretax income for retirement. That I can do, as long as I have a job. It is much harder to state, “I will increase my net worth by 14%.” That is somewhat dependent on the stock market. As we all know, we can not make the market go up by just shutting our eyes and wishing very hard.


Congruence is a strange word, but it is the best word I know for the principle of alignment. In order to pursue and achieve or goals with a minimum of time and effort, it is important that every aspect of our person and our behavior is in alignment with our goals. Two sets of points are called congruent if both have the same shape and size and thus are indistinguishable. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that we must seek congruence and coincidence in our life, that is we make the effort shape our actions, thoughts and beliefs in such a way that they take the same shape and point in the same direction.

If, for example, a 110 pound woman wishes to become a defensive lineman in the National Football League, her goal would not be congruent with her natural gifts and talents. Clearly, God intended something else for her life, but this principle is often very subtle. We seek good things, that may not necessarily be good for us or we seek them in such a way that causes conflicts in our soul. For example, an individual can find himself at a point in his career, when the only thing he still desires from his employer is a pension. Although, a pension is a good thing, as this individual goes to work day after day, his heart is not aligned with his actions. The result is pain and disappointment even as he succeeds at reaching a good goal. Likewise, individuals who make moral compromises to maintain a relationship will always be at war with themselves. A healthy relationship with a member of the opposite sex is a good goal for almost everyone, but pursuing this goal in the wrong way is a recipe for disaster.

So in conclusion be careful what goals you set for yourself and how you work towards those goals. You might actually get what you want.

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