In my last post, I explored the key differences between values and goals. Both are important when it comes to personal development. But sometimes they can be quite fuzzy concepts, so it’s helpful to understand these differences.
Even though values and goals differ in some quite specific ways, we can still use them together. Let’s have a look at some helpful examples.
1. Aligning goals and values
Goal-setting is relatively straightforward, so much so, we can forget the purpose behind the goal. So, when setting goals, ensure they’re aligned with one or more of your values. That way, you’ll know it’s a goal you actually want to achieve.
Inauthentic goals – either from external social pressure, or some form of “I should…” thinking – are rarely achieved. And even if they are, it makes for a very difficult experience and it’s less likely that the behavioural changes will stick. When you identify a goal you want to achieve, be sure you can honestly answer the question “Why is this important to me?”.
2. Values-aligned actions
It’s easy to get fixated on the end-point when it comes to goals. Sometimes, this means we can slip into ‘achievement at all costs’ mentality, which can cause problems with others and even undermine the whole point of the goal. If we strive towards a sales target, but forget about the needs of colleagues we work with, we can erode the quality of our relationships. If the weight loss target is all that matters, we might engage in some very unhealthy behaviours to get there. Sure, the target is reached, but it could have an overall negative impact on our wellbeing.
So, when working towards your goals, look for action you can take that’s an example of your values. That way, regardless of whether the goal is achieved or not, you’ll have worked towards it in a way that represents the person you want to be.
3. Link the effort to one of your values
When you’re set a goal by someone else, like at work or in educational contexts, it may not be motivating or even pleasant! These goals – a deadline for a piece of work, for example – can feel like a hassle and our minds naturally turn to the effort and discomfort involved. That can be a short-cut to procrastination and avoidance.
Instead of focusing on the ‘awfulness’ of the goal, consider how working towards this goal will help you put your values into action. You might be able to lean into something like ‘Persistence’, ‘Reliability’ or ‘Dependability’. The bottom line: at least one of your personal qualities will help you work towards the goal, rather than fixate on the difficulty of the tasks involved.
4. Reflect through the lens of values
When you finally reach your goal, it can be tempting to move on to the next target. But it’s also useful to reflect on how you reached the goal – the effort you put in and the skills and knowledge you utilised. This helps us learn from our experience.
In addition, you can reflect on how you brought your values to life on the journey towards the goal. Which values helped you overcome setbacks? Which values helped you make a start, or persist through periods of lower motivation? This kind of reflection helps you understand the helpful contribution values can make towards your goal achievement.
If you’re interested in learning more about these concepts, check out the most recent video on our YouTube channel, below: