Goal Setting 104: Aligning Your Goals With Your Life Compass

Unit Objectives

Why the priorities of your life compass are relevant to your individual goal setting

Why setting personal goals is a necessary pre-requisite to recognizing and accessing the priorities of your life compass

Why accessing the priorities of interviewed characters is a necessary pre-requisite to recognizing and accessing the priorities of your life compass 

How and why we often set goals that are not realistic or healthy and that do not align with the priorities of our life compass

How does aligning your goals with an authentic sense of self support transpersonal development and expand your sense of the sacred dimension of life?

How do you know if your goals are aligned with your life compass or not?

Even if your goals are aligned with your life compass, how do you know that they are they aligned with its priorities?

Why the priorities of your life compass are relevant to your individual goal setting

If you look back over your life you will notice that you have changed. You also will most probably find that you have outgrown some of your goals and priorities or now question the wisdom of having them in the first place. For example, dressing to impress others is a common goal that is commonly outgrown. So is worrying about what others think, something that we never consciously set as a goal, but yet often acts as a haunting priority for many people. Various forms of entertainment are informal priorities or goals that are easily outgrown with time and experience. 

The point is that our individual goals and priorities, consciously set or habitual, are not always aligned with our life compass. In fact, the wiser determination is to assume that they are not, until proven otherwise. 

Why setting personal goals is a necessary pre-requisite to recognizing and accessing the priorities of your life compass

 Still, the realization that our personal goals are often short-sighted and outgrown is no reason not to do our best at setting important, functional, and meaningful goals for ourselves. As explained above, doing so creates life meaning, protects us from depression, and gives our interviewed perspectives something concrete to comment on and make recommendations about.

Why accessing the priorities of interviewed characters is a necessary pre-requisite to recognizing and accessing the priorities of your life compass 

Without such feedback, it is unlikely that we will gain the validation necessary to have confidence that our personal goals do indeed reflect the priorities of our life compass. 

How and why we often set goals that are not realistic or healthy and that do not align with the priorities of our life compass

Avoiding the setting of unrealistic or unhealthy goals requires a combination of self-awareness, careful planning, and realistic assessment of your capabilities and circumstances. It requires the interviewing of multiple perspectives to provide objective outgroup assessments of the relevance and viability of our goals. Here are a number of topics to consider to reduce the likelihood that your goal setting is only personal rather than transpersonal:

Reflect on your Values and Priorities: Take time to reflect on your values, priorities, and long-term aspirations. Ensure that your goals align with these principles and contribute to your overall well-being and fulfillment. A good way to do so is to ask, “How do I want to look back on my life when it comes time for me to die? What do I not want to regret? What sort of person do I need to be, what sorts of behaviors to I need to change, what do I need to focus my intention on, to become that person?” 

Set SMARTER Goals: Use the SMARTER criteria (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound, evaluate, reassess) to guide your goal setting. Ensure that your goals are realistic and attainable within your current resources, constraints, and timeframe. This insures that your goals are rationally and personally, rather than merely pre-rationally and prepersonally grounded. Pre-rational goals are based on belief, unconscious scripting, emotion, and cognitive bias. Prepersonal goals are based on unrecognized assumptions and beliefs that form your worldview and identity. Rational goals are thought through, with their causes and effects, as well as obstacles to them, carefully considered. Personal level goals differentiate themselves from scripting, emotion, and cognitive biases. Unless we learn to do so, there is no way we can establish authentic personal goals, although we believe we are doing so. This is why we have the first three healing modules of the IDL curriculum – to differentiate personal level goals from prepersonal level ones. This is itself a necessary pre-requisite to establishing transpersonal level goals. 

Break Down Big Goals: If you have a big, long-term goal, break it down into smaller, manageable steps or milestones. Think, “What are the smallest and easiest daily steps I can take toward meeting this goal? For example, if you want to establish a regular practice of yoga, signing up for one class a week instead of three or five; if you don’t take a class, then take time to do at least one asana (posture) a day. You will naturally grow into doing more and finding a time that is most convenient. This approach makes your goal attainment less overwhelming and allows you to track progress more effectively.

Consider Potential Obstacles: Anticipate potential obstacles or challenges that may arise during your goal pursuit. For example, put your phone on silent to keep from being interrupted and distracted or choose a time, like early morning, when others are less likely to make demands on your time. Assess whether you have the necessary resources, skills, or support systems in place to overcome whatever obstacles present themselves. To move from unconscious incompetence to unconscious competence we have to first move through conscious incompetence, that is, awareness of our inability or lack of knowledge and experience. This is what the consideration of potential obstacle does. We can only then move on into conscious competence, or to effective disciplined practice, which allows us to move into “unconscious competence,” internalizing our skill set so that it becomes natural, normal and “easy,” serving as a foundation for further goals.

Seek Feedback: Share your goals with your team as well as with trusted friends, mentors, or colleagues and solicit their feedback. Seek the input from previously interviewed emerging potentials as well as from new interviews. The perspectives of both social and intrasocial perspectives offer valuable insights and perspective to help you assess the feasibility and impact of your goals.

Focus on Process, Not Just Outcome: Instead of solely focusing on the end result, pay attention to the process of your goal pursuit. Learn to enjoy the ride, the activity, the journey, whatever it is. For example, if you have to take out the trash, clean your room, or wash dishes, why not use them as opportunities to develop meditative mindfulness? Why not learn to enjoy the simple break of getting outside, being more organized, or having things clean? Emphasize the importance of personal growth, learning, and development along the way, regardless of the outcome. Attempting to imbue the mundane with a sense of the sacred.

Practice Self-Compassion: Be kind to yourself and recognize that setbacks and challenges are a natural part of goal pursuit. Practice self-compassion and avoid being overly self-critical if you encounter obstacles or need to adjust your goals.A good way to do so is to cultivate cosmic humor. You can do so by recognizing that in the big scheme of things no one cares, you will soon be dead, and that what is important to you today will soon become irrelevant, fading into the static background of human evolution. This does not mean your actions are unimportant or meaningless, since traces remain will that provide the quality and direction for future evolutionary unfoldment. However, it does mean that your concern about your personal identity and welfare is most likely overdone and hinders your goal setting. Back off, reduce pressure, be kind to yourself, and enjoy the ride. 

Stay Flexible and Adapt: Remain flexible and open to adjusting your goals as needed based on changing circumstances or new information. It is easy to get ego-invested in setting unrealistic goals, concluding that you are failing if you don’t make progress. Be willing to let go of goals that are no longer relevant or healthy for you. It is normal with IDL interviewing for new recommendations to come up that are attractive and are more on topic for your current life issues. Consider the pros and cons of switching, of taking on new ones, of dropping old ones. As a general rule, it is better to use recommendations to improve the pursuit of an established goal than to drop old ones in order to follow a new recommendation. 

Celebrate Progress: Celebrate your achievements and progress along the way, no matter how small. Your involvement with your team will be an important part of this, because they understand best what you are attempting to accomplish, since they are on a similar path. Acknowledge your efforts and accomplishments, and use your team to help motivate you to continue moving forward toward your goals.

By incorporating these strategies into your goal-setting process, you can avoid setting unrealistic or unhealthy goals and increase your chances of success and fulfillment in the pursuit of your aspirations.

How does aligning your goals with an authentic sense of self support transpersonal development and expand your sense of the sacred dimension of life?

Honoring Your Inner Truth: When you set goals that resonate with your authentic values, passions, and aspirations, you honor your inner truth. This alignment fosters a deep sense of integrity and authenticity, which are essential qualities for transpersonal development. However, you still can be misled, since what feels authentic and true may remain a reflection of your familial scripting, and cultural groupthink, internalized as your conscience or sense of identity. What we believe to be our inner truth needs to be checked out by interviewing multiple respected emerging potentials. By living in alignment with your life compass, you cultivate a greater connection to the sacred dimension of life, recognizing the inherent value and significance of your life journey.

Integration of Your Mind, Body, and Spirit: Aligning your goals with your authenticity involves considering not only your external achievements but also your internal growth and well-being. Goals that prioritize holistic development, including physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects, support the integration of mind, body, and spirit. This integration is essential for transpersonal development, as it facilitates a harmonious relationship with ourselves and the larger cosmos, deepening our sense of the sacredness of life.

Embracing Wholeness: Authentic goal setting encourages you to embrace your wholeness, including both strengths and areas for growth. By acknowledging and accepting all aspects of yourself, you cultivate a sense of inner completeness and self-acceptance. This wholeness is a key aspect of transpersonal development, as it involves transcending the limitations of the ego and recognizing the interconnectedness of all beings within the sacred web of existence.

Cultivating Presence and Mindfulness: Setting goals aligned with your authenticity requires a deep level of presence and mindfulness. You need to tune into your inner guidance, listen to your intuition, and stay attuned to the subtle signals of your deeper desires and aspirations. This practice of mindfulness fosters a deeper connection to the present moment and the sacredness inherent in every aspect of life, enabling you to experience moments of awe, wonder, and reverence.

Facilitating Your Growth into the Transpersonal: Authentic goal setting can serve as a catalyst for spiritual growth and transformation. When you pursue goals that are aligned with your life compass, you embark on a journey of self-discovery and self-realization. This journey involves confronting challenges, overcoming obstacles, and experiencing moments of profound insight and awakening. Through this process, you can deepen your connection to the transpersonal dimensions of life, experiencing a sense of unity, interconnectedness, and sacredness that transcends the limitations of the individual self.

Transpersonal goals are generally thought of as spiritual goals associated with one or more of the four states of oneness – with nature, divinity, formlessness, or the non-dual. However, there is another definition of the transpersonal that is generally improperly considered secular and humanistic, and that is the realm of the collectives to which we belong and which form both our identity and determine the arc of our unfolding development. Integral Deep Listening is referring to this collective realm of the transpersonal when it talks about “empathetic multi-perspectivalism,” or an expanded sense of identity built around the experience of taking the perspectives of multiple others. 

The moral realm involves the intersection of these two, the personal and spiritual and the collective and humanistic, secular, and mundane. On the one hand, morality defines our individual character – the values we stand for and the altruism of our intent. It is generally assumed that our level of consciousness and our morality mirror each other, that how highly evolved we are indicates a high level of morality and that a high level of morality indicates a high development of personal consciousness. 

The problem with this common assumption is that it does not necessarily take into account the assessment of our morality by outgroups – those who are affected by our behavior but with which we do not identify. That is, our collective sense of who we are, the groups with which we identity, do not extend to groups that are impacted by our actions. For example, we generally do not fight or go to war against our own ingroups and we tend to view our attacks on them as moral or even spiritual, even if these outgroups are objectively abused, exploited, or destroyed by us. Examples include German genocide against Jews and Israeli genocide against Palestinians. 

On the other hand,  morality defines our relationships with others. We are judged, and we judge others, based on respect, reciprocity, empathy, and trust. If these are present, we can say we have a moral, rather than an immoral or amoral, relationship. Notice that this has very little to do with the values we stand for or the altruism of our intent. Others judge us as either possessing these in our interactions with them or we don’t. It is not a question of accuracy of judgment; we can be incorrect. What is important is our determination of the morality of the other, because it determines what sort of relationship and interaction we will have with them. Notice that this also has nothing to do with the level of development of our personal consciousness. Dogs can manifest respect, reciprocity, empathy, and trustworthiness. 

As noted above, the assessment of our behavior by outgroups is not simply a measure of our morality but of our transpersonal level of development. Because of these realities, it is not enough to live by goals that support personal development. Transpersonal development requires goals that also support collective development. This is a fundamental reason why IDL consults multiple real and imaginary, objective and subjective, perspectives, worldviews, and identities. It is only as we incorporate the experience of the “other,” of outgroups, into our own that secular and humanistic collectives become spiritual and sacred. This is the sense in which IDL interviewing is a practice of empathetic multi-perspectivalism. 

As a consequence of interviewing a wide variety of “others,” many of which are secular objects or beings, like rocks, tables, relatives, or dream monsters, we learn to understand, appreciate, and empathize  with their priorities and goals. We take them into consideration in formulating our own. Our goals expand to represent the goals and priorities of a broader collective, and those become as precious and sacred as our own, because experientially, we have made them our own. 

This is a movement into transpersonal goal setting in a process of incorporating and then transcending personal goals, those of interviewed emerging potentials, to access priorities of the broader collectives or holons that IDL refers to as “life compass.” These encompass every aspect, secular and spiritual, macrocosmic and microcosmic, objective and subjective, of who we are.  

Setting personal goals presents a structured, authentic sense of life meaning for interviewed emerging potentials to comment on, reframe, and make recommendations regarding. Setting personal goals provides a context for perceiving and appreciating the goals of interviewed emerging potentials. For example, it is only when we set the goal of eating less sugar that we are likely to access perspectives that state goals regarding that subject. 

Once we have learned to set clear personal goals and work toward them, the next step is to get the input of interviewed perspectives regarding those goals. We begin to understand that they can have goals that are very different from our own, goals that are legitimate, authentic, but challenging. Once we have done so, we can begin to see patterns of often repeated, shared goals of these interviewed “others” or outgroups. These shared goals point us toward the priorities of broader, largely unrecognized collectives in which we are embedded, but which largely determine our future, like the solar and gravitational impacts on Earth determine the evolution of its life forms. These are the priorities of our life compass. They come into view, change, and expand as we move toward them, incorporating them into our own personal goal setting. Life compass is not some set “thing,” reality, or noun, but a changing process, activity, or verb that inherently includes and transcends us, regardless of our level of development or the breadth and depth of our identity. 

How do you know if your goals are aligned with your life compass or not?

Continuous interviews will cybernetically correct your course as you follow what you believe are the priorities of your life compass. Since they will change as your circumstances and goal progress occurs, you will require ongoing feedback to both stay on course and refine your efforts.

On a personal level, look for an increase in your sense of life balance, your appreciation for your circumstances, a decrease in personalization, an increase in empathy, less fear of loss, including death, increased humility, and greater confidence and clarity. You will probably find yourself more selective about how and with whom you spend your time. 

Even if your goals are aligned with your life compass, how do you know that they are they aligned with its priorities?

Just because you have reason to believe your goals reflect those of your life compass that does not necessarily mean that you share its priorities. For instance, four common goals associated with life compass are waking up, peace of mind, balance, and empathy. But among those, which does your life compass prioritize? How do you know? And do your priorities reflect its priorities? 

You can always ask that question of various respected emerging potentials. They may provide different answers, based on their priorities, but if you ask several, a pattern of priorities should emerge. While we can’t be certain, this is likely to reflect the priorities of your life compass. 

Assignments and Homework 

  1. Write down your answers to the following questions. 
  2. Share your answers with your other study team members.
  3. Discuss.
  4. Submit your written answers.

What do you anticipate to be your own challenges to aligning your priorities with your life compass?

What is your plan for helping your clients to do the same?  


Under “Essays and Interviews,”  read:

Are You in Touch With Your Life Compass?

Are You In Touch With Your Life Compass?


In the IDL video curricula, watch:

What is Your Life Compass?

“Life Compass” is a concept derived from the comments, over decades, of interviewed dream characters and personifications of life issues, both of myself and others whom I have interviewed. It is not a metaphysical concept, a priori axiom, religious dogma, or spiritual principle like say, “dharma” is for Hinduism and Buddhism. The concept of “life compass” is a hypothetical construct that may or may not exist. It’s not an ontological reality but more of a process and possibility that is pointed toward by multiple recommendations by multiple interviewed emerging potentials. It can be compared to a gyroscope on a satellite that keeps it oriented in space by spinning on its own self-generated center of energy. Hurricanes and tornadoes do something similar. The vibratory fields of molecules, atoms, and quarks are other examples. In other words, “life compass” is meant to refer to a purely naturalistic reality, not a metaphysical, religious, or spiritual one.

IDL Goal Setting 4: Aligning Your Goals With Your Life Compass

Goal setting that aligns your goals with those of your life compass means that there is a congruency between what is authentically wanting to be born and grow within you and who you think you are. The importance of this alignment cannot be underestimated. It reduces self-doubt while increasing self-confidence, increases personal integrity, creates an interior relationship based on justice, increases the likelihood that that integrity and justice will be mirrored in the exterior, macrocosmic worlds of behavior and relationships, and increases the likelihood that others will respond in kind, based on your sense of your authenticity.


Check for study questions and/or create some of your own.


At a minimum, do one interview a week, getting experience with both dream and life issue protocols.

One week, interview yourself.

One week, interview a subject. It can be a fellow team member, a family member, friend, or client.

One week, be interviewed by someone else. 

Submit your written interviews to your supervising team member. To have your interviews automatically created for you, use the on-line interviewing format on this site.

  Setting Intent:

What do you want to take away from this unit to improve your life?

How would you like it to influence your dreams tonight?

How can you format that as a statement of intention to read over to remind yourself, before you go to sleep, to incubate in your dreams tonight?

For more information, contact joseph.dillard@gmail.com. While IDL does not accept advertising or sponsored postings, we gratefully accept donations of your time, expertise, or financial support.