One of the bigger achievements for people is to realize a goal or a dream. This is a powerful process. To take something from the formless (an idea) and to turn it into a reality that can be interacted with is incredibly energizing. In many ways, writing is a regular practice for me in doing this, but I’ve had other bigger moments where I got to see a hope, dream, or thought manifest in the world.

People Defined By Their Deeds

At this point in the discussion of cultivating a spiritual awakening, we’re at the point where you are your deeds. This is a transitory period, but an important period nonetheless. Most of Western society is, however, stuck at this point. There’s a great line in Batman Begins that illustrates this when Batman says to Rachel, “It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.” Yep. That’s where most people are. In later blog posts, I’ll take apart that notion. But in the progression that I’m building, it is important to achieve goals in the physical world. This is an establishment of your personal power and energizes you as a creative and dynamic being.


If you’ve been around a lot of heart-based teachers, you probably don’t understand why I’m talking about setting goals in relationship to spiritual awakening. You’re like, “Shouldn’t things just happen.” Nope. There’s almost always an active co-creation process between you and the universe to bring things in your life. You have to do your part. Every now and then, the universe exercises grace upon us to help us out, but I don’t typically recommend waiting around for that.

In any event, I’m not talking about making an awakening a goal. I’m talking about setting goals for yourself for things that you want. If you want to run a jewelry business, then set a goal of starting a jewelry business. If you want a husband or a wife, set a goal of creating that relationship. It’s not that you’re becoming cold and calculating in this, but it’s more than just putting out an amorphous intention and waiting for the universe to come knock on your door. It usually doesn’t work that way, but as I said, every now and then you’ll get a bone thrown your way. It just may not be the bone you wanted.

The Power of Manifestation

As you develop as a person as well as a spiritual being, knowing how to create the life you want and actualize goals is incredibly empowering. One of the pivotal moments for me was in college. I was in a writer’s group that decided it wanted to make a literary anthology. An anthology hadn’t been made in seven years, so we pretty much had no idea what we were doing. I happened to be President of the group, and we banded together to do all the fundraising (I never want to sell a bag of frozen cookie dough again, thank you), designing, soliciting of art and writing, bidding on the project, and presenting before the student government for additional financing. It was a heck of an undertaking in my senior year (as you might have guessed, I was a little busy getting ready for graduation). But we did it.

In doing so, I remember one point where I knew that we were in it and couldn’t go back very easily. I was like, “Oh my God. How is this going to work?” But six months later, it did. I saw how I could be part of something brand new and undefined and be a guiding force in taking an idea like creating a literary anthology to make it happen. In many ways, this was a very grounding success. It showed me that I could have tangible success in the real world, and I definitely carried this into my career through confidence. That confidence got me a lot of jobs and a lot of leeway to try new things. My bosses trusted my judgment. You see, things really build up off of these moments in our lives, and to be strong in your personal power and ability to make things happen in the world is essential to your spiritual development, especially as things start to shift in your life.

This Still Doesn’t Sound Very Spiritual

This is practical spirituality. This is living in the real world. The awakening coming into being in this world isn’t going to let everyone go run for the monasteries like in centuries past. It’s right that this awareness stays in the world and not hidden. It’s where we need it. You may be a spiritual plumber, stay-at-home mom, computer engineer, president, janitor, or any other designation. You’re going to need to know how to make stuff happen in your life–not just sit and meditate and pray for hours.

Honing your power of manifestation is also a valuable checkpoint as you build your spiritual foundation. Being able to not just take care of your basic needs, but to be a guiding force to achieve what you want in life is deeply empowering. It’s a fire that you can take with you to move through obstacles in life and in yourself. It gives you a deep sense of self-belief without which you will have great difficulty in awakening. Because at awakening, everything falls apart. It’s a beautiful kind of destruction, and only the things true to who you really are will stay. Some things will be scaffolding that get you to a certain point. Your goals will likely be scaffolding, but the personal belief and deep trust in yourself will likely remain and be a core internal energy that helps you to withstand the rigors of waking up.

Next blog: The Power of Relationships


I'm a spiritual teacher who helps people find freedom from suffering.


  1. omg Jim,

    Once again this just what i needed, though i read this post almost 2 years after u penned it down, its just sooooo relevant… can't thank u enough for this

  2. Would you say that setting a goal based on your own idea and realizing it (or maybe not even realizing it, but giving it an honest to God shot), is a way to learn how to stand on your own two feet?

  3. Evaluating and setting goals can be a useful step in learning how to create things in society at certain phase of a person's spiritual journey, particularly if you have never done so before.

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