Have you ever worked hard for something for a long time, eventually succeeded, and yet still felt empty with your accomplishment? You and many other people have experienced this exact same phenomenon.
Setting goals and working hard to achieve them motivates us, keeps us focused, and can even provide happiness and meaning as we strive to achieve our goals, and yet, many times after achieving a goal we are left with nothing but the emptiness of a job well done.
Much like the olympic gold medalist stands on the podium smiling and waving to their fans all the while thinking to themselves “What now?”, many of us stand where we are today and despite reaching our past ideas of success, we too ask ourselves, “What now?”
Goals VS Value directions.
A goal is a concrete and measurable thing that we want to achieve at some point in the future. Goals have an endpoint, they have systematic steps to completion, and they make take many years or just a matter of days to accomplish. A goal is pass or fail and win or lose.
A value direction is an underlying belief about where you want to go as a human being in your life. Value directions do not have an endpoint, they are subjective and hard to measure (except over long periods of time). Value directions have no endpoint, no date of completion, no moment of perfection. A value direction is only measured against yesterday, and there is no pass or fail.
Where a goal is a set point in time, a value direction is a lifelong commitment to an idea or belief.
Buy a house by January 1st of next year.
Get a promotion within 2 years.
Make 25,000 on your yearly bonus.
Workout 5 times a week, 30 minutes per day, for the next 6 months.
Example value directions.
Save as much money as possible.
Work hard every single day at work.
Try to impress your supervisors by going above and beyond the call of duty.
Make fitness an important part of your life.
What are values?
Values are things or beliefs that you hold important; values are a person’s principles and standards of behavior; values are what people consider most important in life.
Whatever you believe to be true in life, whatever paradigms and beliefs cause you to act the way that you act each day, those are your values. So, value directions are conscious choices to change the direction of our values.
Values are usually inherited, but we can choose to create them as well.
Values usually get adopted throughout our lives. Without realizing it, we tend to adopt the beliefs of the people around us, from the cultures and societies that we live in, and through the experiences that shape who we ultimately become.
Values are not right or wrong, but we should strive to develop values that support us in becoming more effective, more successful, more loving, and just overall better people each day.
The problem with goals…
The problem with goals- and I am a HUGE supporter of setting goals- is that they are very results oriented, and while results are important and ensure long term and short term progress of our position in life, they often miss the things that are truly important to us.
If goals are logical, mathematical, and rigorous, than values are euphoric, artistic, and a matter of the heart. A goal is something that gets crossed off and moved on from, it is a way of people trying to exert control and feeling of security in a world that is largely out of our control.
Sometimes we truly can’t create the outcomes the exact way that we want them, and goals will still grade us on pass or fail grounds. If your goal was to make 100,000 dollars this year and you made 50,000 only, then you failed, but goals don’t take into account the other progress you may have made in trying to achieve a goal.
Goals are focused on results, while value directions are focused on progress and what you actually want.
Value directions can be hard to measure, but they can produce powerful changes in your life nonetheless through the daily reminders that value directions place into your life.
Let us imagine you want to place more value on honesty, so you create a value direction “Be more honest”. At every turn you now have a dominating belief that everything you do should be more honest and exhibit honesty…but, that’s where goals come into play.
Using goals in conjunction with value directions creates killer goals that can produce massive change.
A goal created just to get an accomplishment like to win an award, make money, get a better job, or look better can leave you feeling empty: these goals serve only to create a concrete achievement, and while achievements are important, if they aren’t based off your values and off of truly creating the type of person that you want to be, then they will leave you feeling empty and alone.
Great goals always start with a value direction in mind.
When you say to yourself “I want to be more honest”, you have your value direction. You have realized that honesty is important to you and that you want to become the type of person that displays honesty at every single opportunity, and now, you can create the types of goals that will really produce happiness in your life.
You can now set goals that promote you developing honesty. Tell your friend the truth about what happened in college, stop having your co-worker clock you in at work 15 minutes before you get there each day, stop telling small fibs in conversation, and if you tell someone you will do something, make sure you do it.
Value directions give you a sense of accomplishment and happiness, not because of what you accomplished, but because of who you become. Value directions alone however, will not produce results, that’s why teaming up some awesome goals based off your value direction is the best recipe for success.
Sometimes we may miss goals, but still create awesome personal growth in the process, and sometimes we may achieve goals but kill our personal growth or compromise or values and integrity to do so.
It is important to first understand what you want in life, what is important to you, and what type of person you want to become, before you start setting goals.
Your goals should always be in unison with who you want to become and where you want to go in life. So the results based thinking of your goal setting should add to the value direction that makes you into the exact person that you want to be,
Realize that there is no perfect moment, there is no set date for completion, and every second of life is a most precious gift. Seek to improve each day, make the most of each moment, and find joy in the life you live each day. True happiness comes not from accomplishing everything that you ever wanted to achieve in life, but from living in a way that makes you happy, from being the type of person you want to be, and from living the type of life that makes YOU proud.
What are your values,and what is important to you? Do you know someone who is focused way too much on results? Leave a comment and let us know what is on your mind!