Tuesday, 21 September 2010

What sort of Goals should we pursue?

When we think about achieving Goals it's important that we are careful what sort of Goals we are aiming for. There are two types of Goals, Intrinsic & Extrinsic.

Extrinsic Goals are those where we completely measure it's success based on the external outcome of the event / circumstance. Examples of extrinsic goals would be to "make money", "become famous", "receive the approval of others".

Intrinsic Goals are those where the success is measured by the internal progression that we have made. "To have gained some knowledge", "To grow spiritually", "To soften the heart". We should be pursing Intrinsic Goals as our Primary Goals.

Why is it important to aim for Intrinsic Goals?

When we observe the world, and the history of mankind, we see that man is moving in a direction of growth. Material, intellectual & spiritual growth. What is the ultimate direction we're all moving to? The Qur'an says:

(6:164) ... Your goal in the end is towards God.

The Names of Allah (swt) illuminate that God is the All-Perfect one, and the ultimate Goal for Mankind is to reach God. By aiming for Intrinsic Goals we are accelerate ourselves in the direction of God.

Pursing Intrinsic Goals also make us more happy as we we're not waiting for something to happen to be happy, but we're happy at every moment as the path to the Goal itself is achieving the Goal.

Though there's nothing wrong in making money or in acquiring material wealth in this world, it is important that we look at these as a means to the Ultimate Goal of becoming nearer to God.

[3:14] Fair in the eyes of men is the love of things they covet: Women and sons; Heaped-up hoards of gold and silver; horses branded (for blood and excellence); and (wealth of) cattle and well-tilled land. Such are the possessions of this world's life; but in nearness to Allah is the best of the goals

How do I aim for Intrinsic Goals?

At the outset it may not be obvious to us whether our goals are intrinsic or extrinsic. Something seemingly intrinsic may actually be an extrinsic Goal. For example when we give Charity, is it because we want others to see how Generous we are? or is it to cure the vice of Greed in us?

Before we take up a task we should become aware of why we're doing it by asking ourselves "Why am I doing this? Is it because I'm expecting someone to praise me (or some other reason)? If the praise is removed, would I still be pursing this Goal?"

Self reflection and questioning will help us to examine our true intentions so that we can correct our selves when we go wrong.

Action Point:

Make a list of major goals we have set for ourselves. For each Goal, ask yourself honestly, "Why am I doing this?" Evaluate whether these reasons are intrinsic or extrinsic? Does it take one closer to the Ultimate Goal?