How can I find direction in my life?

Hi again. You know that values can help you live more effectively as your real self, but did you know they can bring more direction to your life? But how do I do that? To get more direction in your life, live out your values; apply them. They can make your life feel purposeful and good. To start, simply base your goals on your values. That’s what this post is about.

 Values shape you as an individual. Use your list of values, your top ten at least, to shape your goals, priorities, decisions and behaviours. This is called “living from your values.” Many wise thinkers consider this to be a key ingredient of the authentic life well lived.

Yes but I always set goals! What’s the difference between a goal and a value?

So, let’s talk goals for a while; they’re easier to understand than values. A goal gives direction to life and helps you move forward, but it is different from a value. Some examples will help.

The goal is

make x amount of money.

The value behind it may be

acquire wealth or be independent or be rewarded for effort.

The goal is

get the promotion.

The value behind it may be

strive for success or contribute more to the community or gain self-respect.

The goal is

get on well with my father.

The value behind it may be

prioritize family and friends or resolve conflict or honour my parents.

The goal is

decrease work-stress.

The value behind it may be

value my health or have more fun.

 In short, the goal is what do I want? The value is why do I want it?

 People can reach for the same goal for different reasons because they have different values. Use your values to shape your goals to live out the real you.

 If you begin with goals without considering values, you may go for things that are measurable: making money, losing weight, increasing sales, travelling overseas, obtaining things. But you may “accidently” forget the things which are really important but aren’t measurable: love, family, health, meaning, caring for social concerns, striving for something worthwhile and so forth.

 We often take the important things in life for granted and don’t put effort into them. Yet we value them.

 Goals are great, but make sure they line up with your values. Don’t end up in some dark place years from now because you spent your life pursuing a goal (like money) but neglecting an important value (like close people).

Goals need to be SMART.        

  Specific: not just “money,” but how much? By doing what?

         Measurable: can you give yourself a tick when you reach it?

         Achievable: you can actually do it.

         Realistic: you have the skills and the resources.

Time limited: it won’t take forever.

Values, on the other hand, are BUILT.

Broad: they reflect big ideas.

Unmeasured: like love, beauty and integrity, they can’t be measured.

Idealistic: you reach and strive for them without always getting there.

Lived-out: they’re expressed in your daily life.

Write out your values.

Know your values to drive your goals.

Write out your goals.

Look at your list of values.

Look at your list of goals.

Do they match up?

Remember how much you value things that can’t be measured: love, family, being your authentic self, having fun. Strive for goals and base them on your values so you don’t neglect the important things you value.

As a general rule for happiness, put people before productivity. People are important as you climb the ladder of success and fall down the snakes of hard-knocks. Reach for the right goals, the ones you really want, the ones based on your values.

Next we’ll look at using your values to guide your priorities, decisions and behaviours to help you live more effectively.

 See you then.

Christian Heim