By Mahatma Das
What’s Your Mission?
“If we don’t change the direction we are going, we’re likely to up end where we are headed.” (Chinese proverb)
The reality is that you have already ended up somewhere. The question is, “Is this where you want to be?” If it isn’t, there are steps you can take to get somewhere else.
But first, of course, you must know where you want to go. So it’s important to ask, “What’s my life’s purpose? What’s my life’s mission?” Anyone on a spiritual path will say something like, “My mission is self-realization, to love God and to help others become Krsna conscious.” The problem is that is too general to be completely meaningful to you. If your mission is to make spiritual advancement and help others, it is important for you to know specifically how you will do this. What special gifts do you have? What inspires you the most? As Prabhupada often said, “How do you want to serve Krsna?” Be specific.
I know that some of you think this sounds selfish. Aren’t we supposed to do what guru and Krsna want? Of course. But we have parameters in which Krsna asks us to serve and within those parameters, there are many possibilities. Srila Prabhupada was asked to preach in the West and write books in English. Within those parameters his inspiration motivated him to establish an international organization and open temples, farms, schools, museums and restaurants. He was also inspired to go back to India and develop big projects there. That’s because Prabhupada’s inspiration was not only to make the West Krsna conscious, but to make the world Krsna conscious.
What inspires you? What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? What would you regret not having done in your life if you were to die tomorrow? What would you do if you had enough money that you didn’t have to work?
If you met Prabhupada today, what would you like to be able to tell him that you did (that you haven’t yet done)?
Here’s another way to connect with your mission. Imagine it is the year 2016 and we are having a reunion of all the people who were at the Get to the Soul seminar in Houston in January of 2006 (for the sake of this exercise, if you weren’t at the seminar, imagine you were there). Now imagine you are telling everyone you met what you are doing now. What would you like to be telling them (i.e. what would you like to be doing in 2016?)?
Clarity is Power
In the early days, Prabhupada asked devotees how they wanted to serve Krsna. Usually they would say something like, “Whatever you want, Srila Prabhupada.” And he would respond, “No, I want to know what you want to do for Krsna. Prabhupada was doing what he taught his managers to do: challenge devotees to find out what they are most inspired to do for Krsna.
“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” - Carl Jung
Our life’s purpose should not necessarily be chosen because of what others expect of us. Often what others expect is the very thing we are least motivated to do. We shouldn’t choose our mission to impress others; neither should we do it to take advantage of others. And we shouldn’t choose it because someone else is doing it.
Sometimes you may have goals that are in contradiction to one another. For example, you may want to be a professor but don’t want to spend the time and effort to get a PhD. You may want to play in the Philharmonic orchestra but don’t want to spend much time learning music and practicing your instrument. This is what happens when you make goals that are not connected to your life mission. In this state you’re likely to take one step forward and one backward, and you often get in your own way. To accomplish such things you may need continual outside direction. Strong motivation isn’t going to be there when your goals are not inspiring.
When goals are connected to your mission, they feel right. You get excited when you think about them. They empower you; they bring you life. They provide you with creative energy for their own attainment. Just imagining what it would feel like to achieve these goals will tap into you the courage and determination to accomplish them. Working on goals that are connected to your mission are enjoyable and absorbing. A goal not aligned with your mission becomes something you “have to” do while waiting to get around what you want to do. You become exhausted and time drags. Work is often stressful.
Connecting with your mission vitalizes every aspect of your spiritual life.
As you can see, connecting with your mission is crucial. Once you know where you want to go, you will need to know the best way to get there. There are steps to do this and I will explain them at the end of this article, but the steps alone are not enough. If we doubt we can achieve our goals, it’s likely we won’t even take the first step. Or if we do, we are likely to sabotage ourselves along the way. So attitude is fundamental to success. Taking a new step or entering a new kind of work is what people fear most. The real fear should be the opposite; we should fear remaining stuck.
Of course, if you make a goal that is virtually impossible to achieve, it is understandable that you may have doubts. At the same time, your goals should at least be big enough that they stretch you and take you out of your comfort zone. My experience is that if your goals are aligned with your unique mission, they become so important to you that there is nothing more you want than achieving them. As a result, your consciousness becomes fixed on the end results, not the obstacles. If you are focused on the obstacles, it is probably because you have not connected with your mission.
How Do I Get There?
Once you know where you want to go, how do you get there? What follows is a practical seven-step formula you can use to achieve your goals for the rest of your life. This is more or less the same formula every successful person employs. You can view this as something like the laws that govern accomplishment, and they can be applied to achieving any of your goals.
1. Decide What You Want
Decide exactly what it is you want in each part of your life. Become a "meaningful specific" rather than a "wandering generality."
2. Write It Down
Clearly and in detail. Always think on paper. A goal that is not in writing is not a goal at all. It is merely a wish and it has no energy behind it.
Take this one stage further and form your goals into prayers. Get Krsna more involved with your goals. After all, they are for Him.
3. Set A Deadline
For your goal. A deadline acts as a "forcing system" in your subconscious mind. It motivates you to do the things necessary to make your goal come true. If it is a big goal, set sub-deadlines as well. Don't leave this to chance.
4. Make A List
Of everything that you can think of that you are going to have to do to achieve your goal. When you think of new tasks and activities, write them on your list until your list is complete.
5. Organize Your List
Into a plan. Decide what you will have to do first and what you will have to do second. Decide what is more important and what is less important. And then write out your plan on paper, the same way you would develop a blueprint to build your house.
6. Take Action
On your plan. Do something every day that moves you in the direction of your most important goal at the moment. Develop the discipline of doing something 365 days a year that moves you forward. You will be absolutely astonished at how much you accomplish. I knew someone who wrote one page of his book a day, usually an hour before he went to bed. In one year the book was done.
Most people don’t work on their goals because they seem so big, distant or difficult to achieve. Forget all that. Just take little steps. Ask yourself at the end of the day, “Did I do anything to get closer to my goals?” If not, do something. Even if it’s just to tell somebody your goal and why it’s important to you. Doing anything builds momentum, and building momentum is essential.
Somehow or other you need to fight inertia. Inertia is what holds us back from clearly defining and working on our goals. Arjuna lost his connection with his mission. He was paralyzed until he again connected with both his duty as a ksatriya and his duty as a soul. “Stand up and fight.”