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3 Steps to Forming Purpose-Driven Goals

3 Mins read

While HBO’s Succession is hugely popular and acclaimed, I couldn’t watch past a few episodes. For me to watch an entire series or film, at least one main or supporting character must have a noble purpose. Perhaps you’re thinking that’s such an old-fashioned worldview or don’t you know antiheros are all the rage?

Besides, greed is not my jam. While there are some folks who agree with me about avarice, 60% of North American adults have the goal of becoming a billionaire one day according to the Harris Poll’s 2022 Americans and Billionaires Survey.

And how about these goals? Among a group of 10-12 year-olds a few years ago, the most popular goal was fame solely for the sake of being famous,” overshadowing hopes for financial success, achievement, and a sense of community.” In a survey taken in 2022, “54% of Generation Z said they’d like to become an influencer, and 86% expressed interest in posting social media content for money.

Being wealthy makes life much easier in many ways and it jives with our survival instinct. I will leave the psychoanalysis to the experts, however what I find a bit alarming is the “desire for fame solely for the sake of being famous,” mainly because it lacks any soul searching. The desire for fame probably is a primordial drive for attracting mates, but…

How we frame our goals also frames our careers, lives, and relationship with the rest of humanity. Framing goals with purpose other than fame or wealth involves a simple 3-part system, which might very well lead to two goals many of us share, which are to know ourselves better and to be happy—truly happy.

Seeing your goal from a systemic perspective leads you to a process of discovery about yourself. Here goes:

  • Your goal is what you want to achieve. To get to what truly matters, let’s think about why you want to achieve this goal. Ask:
  • What do I hope to achieve? What would the outcome look like?
  • What’s the gap this goal will fill in my life, career, industry, discipline, culture, or the environment?
  • Beyond wealth or fame, what do I hope to gain? The gain can be personal as well as for other individuals, society, business, your discipline or industry, creatures, or our planet.

Asking about the gap and the gain exposes any misconceptions and most likely will change outcomes. Through closer examination of your goal, the new phenomena you discover might cause a paradigm shift or a new interpretation of your goals. What we’re seeking to uncover is a bigger picture about your identity, desires, or frame a deeper, more multifaceted aim.

Each time you answer the questions What do I hope to achieve? What gap am I filling? And What’s the gain beyond profit or fame?–it contributes to your overall understanding of what might be a true aspect of your identity; for in part, your purpose forms who you are.

Anyone can set the goal of wealth or fame, however that doesn’t guarantee their goal will lead them to a place of fulfillment. That kind of hollow goal needs great refinement and quite frankly a reframe.

People go on to do harebrained, frivolous, and alarming things in the pursuit of goals that aren’t thoroughly examined for a meaningful purpose. And in the living-breathing world, think of the recent incidences of people who have corrupt goals; we’ve seen too many examples of people who “lure investors to bankroll ideas that turn out to be stupid, evil, or fraudulent.

Even though I admire the screenwriters’ storytelling, Succession’s fans can have the Roys. I’d rather spend my time on characters or real people who have noble pursuits and make significant contributions to humanity.

Who do you wish to be?

Robin Landa is a distinguished professor at Kean University and a globally recognized ideation expert. She is a well-known “creativity guru” and a best-selling author of books on branding, advertising, ideation, creativity, and design, including The New Art of Ideas: Unlock Your Creative Potential. She has won numerous awards and The Carnegie Foundation counts her among the “Great Teachers of Our Time.”


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