The Magic of Purpose-Based Goals

Do you desire to be rich?  The word “rich” can be defined as “possessing great material wealth,” and it can also be defined as that which is “abundant, meaningful, and significant.”  Therefore, which kind of wealth do you desire the most?  Do you want to experience a life of riches or a rich life?

Author Pamela York asks a similar question that is reflected in the title of her book, How Much is Enough?  She writes, “The question is deceptively simple, but the answer is critical to integrating money with other aspects of your life and finding happiness.”

In Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, bestselling author Daniel Pink presents the latest research in human motivation.  In particular, he explores how individuals establish and pursue goals.  His review lead him to conclude that “satisfaction depends not merely on having goals, but on having the right goals.”

In other words, Pink learned that we can dramatically increase our rate of success by first determining a meaningful and internally motivated “why” for each of our goal pursuits.

For evidence, Pink points to a myriad of studies based on Self-Determination Theory (SDT)―a model of human motivation that is concerned with supporting our natural or intrinsic tendencies to behave in effective and healthy ways.  This widely accepted model was developed by Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan, psychology professors at the University of Rochester, and is now used in research around the world.

According to Deci and Ryan, goal pursuit and attainment are highly influenced by “the degree to which people are able to satisfy their basic psychological needs as they pursue and attain their valued outcomes.”

These studies showed that individuals with purpose-based goals experience higher levels of satisfaction and well-being, and also reported lower levels of anxiety and depression.

Pink summarized the conclusions of the researchers in this way; “Even when we do get what we want, it’s not always what we need.”  In contrast, what these studies revealed is that what we really need is a sense of purpose.

Therefore, taking time to evaluate your pursuits based on essential psychological needs will increase your awareness of the “why” that underlies your aspirations.  This will form a strong emotional connection to your goals and strengthen your commitment.

In addition, it is important to remember that money can provide more avenues or options for achieving your goals, but financial resources alone cannot produce the essential ingredients of a rich and rewarding life such as happiness, good health, loving relationships, and meaningful activities.

For example, In The Soul of Money, author Lynne Twist wrote:

“No matter how much or how little money you have flowing through your life, when you direct that flow with soulful purpose, you feel wealthy…  When you let your money move to things you care about, your life lights up.  That’s really what money is for.”

In other words, your values should provide the foundation for your pursuits and the criteria for allocating your financial resources.  Otherwise, when there is incongruence between your values and the way you “spend” your time and money, inner conflict will result.

Only when you have clarified your values will you feel assured that your financial decisions align with your purpose-based goals in all areas of life.

In Caring for Your Soul in Matters of Money, Karen Ramsey, CFP® wrote about the importance of making sure your financial life supports what is most important to you:

“Money will only improve the quality of your life when it is used with clarity.  Only when you learn to spend money in concert with your underlying valuesthe things that you most deeply care aboutwill it become a tool for creating a more fulfilling life.”

Reprinted by permission of Money Quotient, NP

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