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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

This is the day to target purposes:

Target Purposes

Be on the lookout for goals, purposes, objectives, agendas. Figure out what you are after and how you are seeking it. Determine whether your various goals are interwoven and convergent or in conflict and mutually inconsistent. Determine whether your real purposes are different from your expressed purposes. Ask yourself whether you can admit your real purposes (in this or that part of your life). Figure out what your family members, associates, and friends are after. What are their real and most basic goals? To what extent are their lives undermined by contradictory drives and aims? To what extent can they admit their real purposes? Examine personal goals, professional goals, political goals, economic goals, national goals. Make a list of your important goals and see if you find inconsistencies in them.

Day Five: Know Your Purpose

Thinking is always guided by human purposes. Everything you do is related to some purpose you have. Your purpose is whatever you are trying to accomplish. It is your goal or objective in any given situation or context.

Your thinking goes wrong when you aren't clear about your purpose, have unrealistic purposes, have contradictory purposes, or don't stick to your expressed purpose. Some goals are short-range and transitory; others are long-range and permanent. Some are primary. Some are secondary. Some represent your central mission in life. Others become means to other ends.

In human life, there is often a discrepancy between public (announced) goals and private (unspoken) goals. Thus, a politician's announced goal is usually to serve public need. The real goal is often to get elected, to serve ambition, and to satisfy greed.

It is important to examine the purposes that guide how you live. Which of them are you explicitly aware of? Which of them lie beneath the surface of your thinking? Which of them would you be unwilling to admit to? How many of them guide you to superficial actions? How many of them guide you to important ends? Which of them are you having difficulty accomplishing, and why?

It is also important to be able to assess others' purposes. Remembering that people's real purposes often contradict their stated purposes will enable you to see through façades and keep from being manipulated by others.

Questions you can ask to target purpose:

  • What exactly is my purpose in this situation?
  • What am I trying to accomplish?
  • Is this purpose realistic?
  • Is this goal ethically justified?
  • What is my most important task right now?
  • What is the first thing I need to do to accomplish my purpose?
  • What is the agenda of my spouse, my children, my friends?
  • How does my agenda differ from my spouse's, employee's, or supervisor's?
  • Does my stated agenda differ from my actual one?
  • Would I be willing to admit to my true purpose in this situation? If not, why not?

"There is no road to success but through a clear strong purpose. Nothing can take its place. A purpose underlies character, culture, position, attainment of every sort." —T.T. Munger

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