In past chapters we have emphasized again and again how important it is to set your own personal goals for life. In addition of course it is also necessary to carry out regular checks on, or to monitor, whether we are also really getting closer to our goals. In the case of most companies for example objectives and budgets are set for one year and the achievement of these objectives is periodically reviewed, at least once each year. What has proved to be useful for companies can also be very helpful for us personally.
The monitoring of our progress must thereby be adapted to the selected goals. We must be clear about how we want to measure our development, according to which criteria we wish to make the assessment of whether we have got closer to our goal. The goal and the respective assessment criteria for progress on the way to the goal belong closely together. If we have set ourselves the goal of learning to play the piano, then we can for example measure our progress by using pieces of music which we are able to play. Our body weight or the state of our savings account have little to do with this, and are hence unsuitable as assessment criteria for progress in piano playing. What appears so obvious in this example however often leads to difficulties and problems in our daily life.
We must be aware of the connection between objective and the assessment criteria for progress, above all when we change our personal objectives, when we give up old objectives and replace them with new ones. Often we change our objective but continue to assess our progress as before with the assessment criteria of the earlier – no longer valid - objective. If we don’t notice this ourselves then after a short time we will start to follow the old objectives again. In the final analysis we do indeed want to make progress...
A great number of people in the western world pursue in the first instance financial goals. To be able to call a maximum of financial resources your own with a minimum of effort, is a widespread goal for life. It is not by chance that the press reports every day on the stockmarket prices, the financial successes of companies, profit options on financial investments etc. Such information is wanted by an ever-greater number of people. He who wants to maximize his financial wealth can as a result find easy assessment criteria for measuring progress and he can even monitor it daily!
If however a person now wants to change his objective for example from maximizing profit to living the basic rights of existence, this is of course certainly not to say that this person does not need to earn any more money. He will however set his priorities differently, as discussed in earlier chapters. The two objectives «have as much money as possible» and «living the basic rights of existence» are not compatible with one another after a certain level of development.
In this concrete example the risk is however great that he will take the living of the basic rights of existence as the goal, but he also or only assesses his progress as before on the basis of his financial wealth. He thus still clings to the old goal and doesn’t properly let it go. Instead he would like if possible both to be rich and to live the basic rights of existence. As we have seen in the chapter on objectives the striving for incompatible goals brings development to a complete standstill at a certain point1. Neither internal harmony nor financial wealth increase. From the point of view of the respective person himself this is quite possibly a clear step backwards against the earlier situation.
Personal characteristics which cannot be measured in terms of defined quantities, such as kilograms, dollars, euros, pounds, metres, degrees etc., are extremely difficult to quantify. Only very few of us have had practice in this. The following list is therefore intended to offer suggestions as to how we can assess our progress on the path to peace and harmony, to the highest human goal. This list can naturally also be extended arbitrarily. The sequence of points is purely random and in no way represents any form of value judgement.
Joy in daily life: Can I say that I take pleasure more and more in the everyday things of life? Can I enjoy life more and more? Does my „joie de vivre“ increase?
Equanimity in every situation: Are there less and less things which can upset me? Do I get annoyed less and less? Do I calm down again more quickly after getting annoyed?
Confidence: Is my confidence in myself and in my future increasing? Am I less and less afraid of things? Are there things or events of which I am still afraid?
Harmony and peace: Do I more and more frequently stand above things? Do I remain calm internally and externally even in hectic situations, or under stress? Do I feel stressed less and less?
Evaluation: Can I accept other people, things and events more and more the way they are without dividing them into good or bad?
Self-determination: Do I do those things which I want to do wholeheartedly?
Objective: Have I formulated my personal goals (short and long term) clearly to myself and in writing? Do I deliberately follow these goals? Do I check my progress regularly and honestly?
Health: Am I bodily healthy and fit? Do I feel healthy and fit? Do I take care of my health?
Intellectual fitness: Am I intellectually fit? Can I keep up with the new developments on the earth?
State of relaxation: Do I feel relaxed and at ease – even if things are getting turbulent?
Authenticity: Do I accept myself for what I am, with all my faults and problems, or do I make a pretence in certain situations, that I am someone else? Am I myself in every situation?
Priority: Do I divide my time correctly according to the priorities I have set for my objectives?
To be able to deliberately pursue our own development, it is recommended that we establish in writing for each of the listed points those cases where there is a need for change:
What things can I not be pleased about in my life?
What do I get upset about?
What do I fear or what do I worry about?
In which situations do I feel stressed?
From this list of negatives it should be possible to cross out certain entries over time. Within the course of personal development new points will however have to be added to the list. This is quite normal and should in no way have a demotivating effect. Quite the reverse: These are simply new challenges on our journey through life!
1 We demonstrated this before with the example of a mountain climber, who wanted to climb both peaks A and C from the mountain village. Since both peaks are on different sides of the valley he cannot get closer to both peaks at the same time. If he first climbs peak A he then has to go right back to the village before he can then climb peak C.