“Every noble work is bound to face problems and obstacles. It is important to check your goal and motivation thoroughly. One should be very truthful, honest, and reasonable. One’s actions should be good for others, and for oneself as well. Once a positive goal is chosen, you should decide to pursue it all the way to the end. Even if it is not realized, at least there will be no regret.” Dalai Lama
This nugget of wisdom from the Dalai Lama encourages pursuing a goal no matter what obstacles occur on the way to realization. It also seems to imply that failure is better than a regret that one did not at least attempt to achieve that goal. Some people actually call these noble goals. But is this realistic in this day and age, or even good for the pursuer’s mental health?
First, we should establish what a ‘noble goal’ might be. Usually, a noble goal is considered to be an ongoing process, almost a way of living on a daily basis, but with a purpose in mind, and one that, as the quote suggest, is for the good of others and not just for yourself.
A Noble Goal is a succinct and persuasive declaration of intent. A noble goal can help you make long-term decisions that will help you live your best life. It will provide you with a direction in life and will assist you in aligning your thoughts, feelings, and actions. It covers every element of your existence (work, school, personal, community, etc.).
When put like this, you can see that it is likely that pursuing a noble goal will indeed probably not be the easiest thing to do, but when is something really worth doing ever easy. But it can be done.
The Components of a Noble Goal
A Noble Goal usually includes a verb (that expresses how to achieve it) and a goal (that expresses what you wish to contribute to the world). They are rarely designed to completed or achieved in one’s own lifetime, so failure, as well as success, in achieving such goals is likely to be an ongoing process that continues and changes every day.
Although this is a broad definition, a noble goal should usually meet the following criteria:
- You will not be able to finish it in your lifetime – It is long-lasting and motivating, and it is something more than just an occasional effort. This allows you to maintain a long-term concentration and avoid the confounding effects of short-term thinking.
- Outwardly focused – While you will profit, if not financially then personally and spiritually, the emphasis is on others. This allows you to keep a broad perspective.
- Integrates many domains – It embraces all aspects of your life; pursuing your noble objective in one domain (for example, work) supports you in the others (such as family).
- It inspires and motivates you to get out of bed — It drives and inspires you on a deep level, which gives you the energy you need when things get tough.
- No one is made less – In order for you to pursue your Noble Goal, no one has to be “less than” or “wrong”; this keeps you free of ego and power struggles.
Examples of Noble Goals
There is no one right or wrong noble goal or one right or wrong outcome, so offering up specific examples can be hard. People often, however, draw their noble goals from their personal passions or strongly held beliefs. Perhaps the plight of those less financially fortunate than yourself particularly bothers you, so you might set a goal to help do everything you can to improve the lot of a certain group of people. Or female empowerment may be your passion, so you might set a goal to help ensure that women are treated fairly and equitably in the workplace.
Most noble goals are not things that you can solve alone, either. You alone can’t change the way that every employer treats women. But you can use your voice, your intellect, your personal and professional resources, and your emotional intelligence to ensure you are doing your best to help every day.
You do not have to cure cancer or eliminate world hunger to have a noble goal; in fact, as previously stated, the ideal objectives are ones that do not have a clear “end” point, because otherwise we would try to achieve it just to be left asking “what now?” It can be a broad goal that you can work toward every day and ask yourself, “Does what I’m doing right now connect with my noble objective?” for example:
- Being an example of compassion, love, and kindness to all living things.
- Taking care of the environment in the region where you grew up
- Honoring the interdependence of all living things
Again, aligning with your Noble Goal does not mean quitting your current life and work and flying to Africa to help in the construction of an orphanage. It does not even necessitate a career change. It simply means that you discover methods to contribute to that noble goal in every way you can. It is a North Star for your life journey, something that guides your path and motivates you to get out of bed in the morning.
These goals can be as good for you as the people/things you try to help. Although it is possible to stay “happy” in the sense of continually feeding oneself with hedonistic sensations, this requires regular stimulation, whereas meaning lasts longer. You may be having a fantastic time partying, traveling, and eating new foods, but if you don’t have an underlying “why” for what you are doing, the attraction will wear off, and you will need more and more stimuli to feel good.
Sticking to Your Goals
As is the case for all goal setting, sticking to the noble goals you set for yourself will not always be easy, and you may experience stumbles often. Sticking to any goal calls for dedication and change. To help ensure equality for women, for example, you may need to speak out where you might previously have been silent. You may even become unpopular with some people for doing so.
However, if you can help a woman just starting out in her career achieve heights her mother never has the chance to, you will have made a difference, and any regret about your actions will be negated by that fact!