The Power of Eternal Goals
Apr 5, 2020
This essay is also available here as a PDF.
Way back in 1980, while still in my twenties, I listened to an audiotape called “The Power of Goal Setting” by Paul J. Meyer. Its primary message was that clarifying one’s goals, prioritizing them, and then writing them down produced a powerful effect on one’s life. I was inspired by the concept and immediately adopted the practice. Since that time I have rewritten my goals many times, in an effort to bring into focus the goals that were most important to me.
Using the above method, one writes down everything that one wants to do, from small to large to seemingly impossible dreams. The goals can include internal growth goals as well as external goals. While writing them down, one shouldn’t doubt or criticize the goals. Once the goals are all written down, the task is to prioritize them, selecting the top twelve, and then the top three and then the Number One goal that one wants to achieve. Prioritizing goals forces you to ask the question, “What are the goals that I want to achieve above all others, and that I want so strongly that I am willing to sacrifice the other goals on my list to attain them?”
The numbers three and twelve are quite arbitrary, and even the idea of only one goal being your top goal may be too limiting. Using other numbers is fine. The purpose of the exercise is to clarify to yourself what you really, really want. Knowing what we truly desire produces clarity in our thoughts and in our actions and, most important of all, gives us a real chance to accomplish our goals.
It is unfortunate that many people have no idea what they truly want, and thus drift through life from birth to death having no idea where they’re going. To clarify our goals requires time and effort and deep, reflective thought. However, thinking deeply is in danger of becoming a lost art. It should be a skill that is a required course in all schools, so that children learn the habit of reflection and meditation early in life. Teaching a person to think deeply and to get in touch with one’s core values and with one’s heart and mind is as important as teaching them reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Reflection and meditation are two different operations that are both necessary for clarity in one’s life. Both require finding the time and space to be alone and to be silent. Sitting or walking in nature is a great way to do both, for the atmosphere in nature is simple and unsullied. Reflection is an active task in which we use our intellect and heart to review the many elements of our life. It is a process that often includes asking such questions as, “What is the most important thing in my life?” and “What is valuable to me?” As we reflect and think and ask ourselves questions, we can sort through all the competing goals that we have and zero in on the most important desires of our life.
Complementing the active task of reflection, meditation allows us to go deeper. For me, meditation is a process that involves listening and awareness and resonance. Although some meditative practices involve emptying one’s mind, I prefer to focus on the awareness that I am not alone and instead turn my thoughts and feelings to the omnipresent embrace of the indwelling God.
I think that we are meant to have a symbiotic relationship with God, with God living inside us as well as all around us. I believe that God created each one of us as a unique reflection of a distinct “particle” of God that is our source and blueprint. Even from a physical point of view, it is mind-boggling that we all started out as a zygote, one cell that contained a complete blueprint of our physiognomy and characteristics. Can it be that our blueprint also includes God’s unique hope for us and our own unique set of talents and missions in life?
When one speaks of humans as a “reflection” of God, it seems to denote that there’s a distance, and that God is somewhere outside us. It is of course true that God, being omnipresent, is outside us, but I think that it’s also accurate to say that God is inside us, living within us every day, as we go about our daily tasks. One might say that the part of God’s energy and mind and heart that is our unique source is woven together with our energy and mind and heart, and in fact forms the totality of our individual being. This has relevance for us when we meditate upon our goals, for living in a symbiotic relationship with a God who created us with unique talents and purposes should deeply affect our perspective about ourselves.
If we live in a symbiotic relationship, why can’t we hear God speak to us about our life’s purpose and goals? I believe that God is speaking to us every moment of our lives, whispering in our hearts, speaking to us with a voice that can only be heard if we listen. Unfortunately, listening doesn’t always mean hearing. We may meditate and listen and hear nothing at all, and lose hope. If God is speaking to us, and we’re listening, why can’t we hear Him? Or “Her” if we are seeking a relationship with God’s feminine essence. (And yes, that theological departure from the norm is an entirely different conversation about the God who created both male and female creatures.)
I think that we cannot hear God very easily because we are all damaged. Through no particular fault of our own, we have inherited emotional, spiritual, and psychological problems that have made it very difficult to hear God directly, not unlike a damaged radio that can’t pick up a signal very well. If one assumes that the frequency or wavelength that God is using to broadcast thoughts to us is the wavelength of love and purity, one could also assume that we will gradually be able to receive God’s thoughts and feelings more easily as we increase the quality and quantity of the love moving through our hearts and minds.
Our expectation might also be that we want to hear God as an audible voice. Isn’t it true, however, that God usually speaks to us through our thoughts, imparting love and wisdom to our souls? Perhaps we have heard God many times, but didn’t recognize that it was God! God also may speak to us indirectly, through other people, through nature, and even by sending us messages and signs in our daily life.
As I wrote in the essay “Divine Writing Communion and the Joy of Living with God,” a powerful way to receive guidance from God is to practice what I call “Divine Writing.” I open a document on my laptop, pray, and then write any thoughts or questions I might have. I then wait for a response from God and usually feel words entering my mind which I write down. Are those words from God? It cannot be proven, but based on the content and my own perception I believe that they are. I think that the spiritual and prayerful practice of Divine Writing creates a telepathic connection between God’s mind and our own. To me, Divine Writing is a wonderful way to have a conversation with our Dear Beloved God.
Listening to God, and clarifying our life goals, is an ongoing process that is deeply affected by our own internal standard of love. As we change, our goals change. As we strive to fulfill goals of love and compassion, we change even more. Thus, we hone our goals until we understand more clearly what is truly important to us. Our goals are closely tied to the unique talents and purposes that God gave to us.
At the age of fifty-two, in 2007, when I wrote the original version of this essay, I realized that I had to expand my external goals to include my life in the spirit world. I should have realized this much earlier in life, but for many years I had separated my goals. My “external” career goals went only as far as the end of my life in the physical world. My goals for the spirit world were limited to “internal” goals, such as loving God and loving people. I now feel that this is too limiting. In my opinion, we won’t stop working in the afterlife. We’ll want to do something.
This was a watershed realization for me, and provided me with a truly inspiring long-term vista of my life in the future. In my view, our work and creativity and contributions to others don’t stop at the point of so-called “death,” but continue forever. From all the testimonies that have been published about life in the spirit world, we can deduce that there is one major difference between a person’s experience of work in this life and in the afterlife. Because of the nature of the spirit world, we don’t have to work to pay the rent, or obtain food and clothing, at least in the middle and upper realms. These things are provided based on our quality of love and character. In other words, the rat race and treadmill of exhaustion are gone. Instead, we work because of love, at tasks that bring joy to ourselves and others.
Reflecting about all of this, I immediately got out a notebook and started writing down what I felt called to do in the spirit world. The goals that I wrote down were a natural extension of what I have been trying to do in my life so far, such as writing, speaking and caring for others. It was a stimulating exercise, for I had to ask myself what kind of writing I would do. What will people want to read in the spirit world? What will I want to write?
Casting my thoughts forward like this was a liberating experience. Many people work very hard to fulfill their goals within their physical lifetime, and feel grief and stress when their results are less than they wish. Removing the endpoint of death and realizing that we can continue our work in the afterlife is a wonderful concept. It is a realization that has a powerful effect on our goals.
If one assumes that one goes to the realm of the spirit world that reflects one’s heart and level of love, it makes sense to refine one’s eternal goals so that they are compatible with the reality of the spirit world. Making a goal to be a Mafia kingpin in the spirit world won’t bring about a satisfactory conclusion. One might end up in a mud puddle instead. This also profoundly affects our goals for our physical lifetime, for a life centered upon selfish goals will not produce a good result in the spirit world. Aligning one’s goals for the physical world with one’s goals for the eternal spirit world is the most logical course of action.
I believe that human beings were created from love, for the sake of love, so much so that the primary goals of all human beings, that are part of their invisible wiring that they may not even be aware of, are to love God, and to love and care for all other human beings with God’s love. To me, the symptoms of alienation, despair, and loneliness that so many people experience all stem from a profound disconnection from the spiritual identity and purpose of human beings, as well as the tragic lack of awareness of God’s intimate and constant presence in our life and God’s profound love for each of us.
The thirteenth-century Christian mystic Mechthild of Magdeburg1 said it well when she wrote:
If we are able to, connecting our desires and goals to an awareness of God’s love will fill us with—yes, pun intended—an undying excitement and enthusiasm for daily life. We’ll wake up each morning and feel thrilled at the new day in which we can work to fulfill our purpose.
Reaching that point of awareness is an individual journey. We are all different. Some of us have epiphanies in the middle of the night, some are knocked off our horse on the road to Damascus, some of us have visions and visitations. Some of us grow slowly and slog our way forward, inch by bloody inch. And sometimes we really need guts and fighting spirit to continue.
My journey has been slow and long. I measure my growth in decades, because it seems that I grow so slowly and laboriously. I didn’t have a sparkling vision. Instead, one grim night in Reno, Nevada, in 1980, I wandered the streets in despair until something awakened in my heart and I could feel the reality of God as the sun came up. I wrote about that experience in a short story called “The Last Person.”
From that point, my life completely changed. I became enthusiastic about life and had somehow, by God’s mercy, gained an ironclad conviction that loving God and loving people was what I wanted to do more than anything else in life.
It’s now the year 2020, forty years since that experience, and I’m sixty-five years old. Through a long process of honing my desires and goals I’ve become intensely excited and enthusiastic about God and love. I’ve become deeply aware of God’s presence and embrace and want more than anything to become a “Being of Love” who is fully resonant with God’s unconditional love.
I know that that will take a very long time, and in fact—in a very thrilling way—is an infinite and eternal goal, for we can never catch up with God’s quality of love. We can always journey one more mile, and we can always grow more, and grow forever, becoming ever more loving with each passing year. I want to live with this credo:
Beyond the goal of becoming a more loving person, on earth and in the spirit world, I feel that my particular blueprint from God has called me to focus on the creative work of writing, speaking, and publishing, and I have accepted that as my mission in life. I will do my best to help express God’s values and attributes of love, beauty, joy, and freedom to as many of God’s children as possible. I fully intend to continue that mission until my last breath on earth, and then continue on in the spirit world.
Of course, who knows where we will end up in the afterlife? Who knows what it’s actually like? Where will I be? To quote Sir Percy Blakeney, the eponymous Scarlet Pimpernel of the 1905 novel about rescuing members of the nobility from the guillotines of the French Revolution, written by Baroness Emmuska Orczy:3
I won’t know where I will be until I get there, but I can assure you that if I’m in hell, I will work very hard indeed to love and help those around me, and do my best to be a “Purveyor of Joy.” If I’m still in hell when you arrive, do pay me a visit if you wish, and let me know how I can improve and hopefully move to the higher realms.
In spite of the unknown variables of our future existence, there is one thing that I am completely sure of: God will never abandon us, for God is everywhere and in every person, for God, after all, can never get enough of love.
This essay is also available here as a PDF.
Peter Falkenberg Brown is passionate about writing, publishing, public speaking and film. He hopes that someday he can live up to his favorite motto: “Expressing God’s kind and compassionate love in all directions, every second of every day, creates an infinitely expanding sphere of heart.”