At this time of year it’s common to set goals for the year ahead.
But what if you start by thinking about your values. How you can make 2017 a year when you live your values more deeply?
I’m not suggesting that you don’t set goals. Goals are important to help you get things done. They can also help you to stay motivated. But if you start by identifying your values, this will help you set goals that really matter to you.
And committing to living your values more profoundly will have an impact on HOW you go about achieving your goals, and on your quality of life and relationships. And it can help bring a greater sense of meaning and purpose into your life.
What are values?
They are what’s important to you at a deep level. A value is a quality, or way of being. Whereas a goal is something you do or achieve. For example, a goal may be finding a life partner, whereas the underpinning value may be for love or connection or security.
Identifying your values can help you set goals that are worthwhile for you. They help you focus on what is important to you, not what others may think important. They can help give your life meaning and purpose
For example. you might set a goal to find a higher paying job. But if you start with values, then you might realise that you value time with your family more than anything else. You want to earn more so you can provide a better standard of living and more holidays for your family. This doesn’t preclude earning more, but not if it is going to mean less time at home. This understanding can then influence the goals you set for your job search.
How to identify your values?
Here are three ideas:
- Ask yourself what is really matters to you, and then look for the underlying values. For example you may feel at your most happy and fulfilled when you are stretching yourself and learning something new. It may be that the underlying value here is love of learning, or personal growth. If so, how can you bring more of this into your everyday life, and future plans?
- Conversely, if there is something in your life that makes you unhappy or angry, this could point to a violation of a value. If you feel angry that you are not being paid or treated fairly at work, this could point to an underlying value of justice, equity or fairness. Identifying this can help you in finding work that is more in line with what matters to you. And right now you can make sure you are fair in your dealings with others.
- A third approach can be to use a list of values as a prompt. Try this 3 part exercise to help you to identify and prioritise your values, and set relevant actions and goals as a result.
Ideally, your job or career will be a good fit for your values. The culture of your organisation or company will feel right. And your work pattern and remuneration allows you to fulfil what’s important outside of work.
If you feel that your current job is significantly out of sync with your values, it may be time to make a change.