Sometimes getting started is the hardest part, but many times what causes people to fail to achieve goals is that they aren’t in alignment with their core values. When this disparity between goals and values exists, it is much harder to put in the work and sacrifice needed for success when times get challenging.
Around this time of the year, many of us set goals or make resolutions. In light of that, I’d like to share five specific steps you can take to maximize the chance of success and positive impact those goals will have on your life.
1. Identify your core values.
If you’ve done this recently, congratulations! If you haven’t, print out a list of values from the internet (like this one from Brene Brown) and complete the following:
First, circle the 30 values most important to you from the list (add your own as needed)
Second, of the values circled, put a check next to the 10 most important
Finally, of the values checked, rank the top 5 core values
These top 5 values should really resonate with you and obtaining alignment to these values will impact your success and fulfilment in life.
2. Brainstorm your ideal future situation one, five, and ten (or more) years out.
Personally, I’ve organized this into categories, such as, Career, Finances, Life, etc. and wrote out my vision for each in 1, 5 and 20-year time horizons.
As you are outlining the key facets of your vision for the ideal future, ensure that your core values are apparent and aligned with the vision. A simple example might be something like this:
Your top 3 core values are Family, Freedom, and Travel and your 5-year vision for your career is to be a Vice President at your corporation.
These values and vision may not be aligned. While that VP job will likely provide plenty of income to support family and travel, it is likely to restrict family time, vacation time and overall freedom.
Challenge yourself to think about what you are working towards and why, this will give you the best chance of finding your true ideal future state. Some specific questions to ask yourself during this exercise could be: What is your why? What does a ‘rich life’* look like to you? What’s on your bucket list?
3. Determine if your current situation is aligned with your core values and able to get you to your ideal future situation.
This is the part where you need to take a hard look at your current situation in the various categories or areas you organized your vision into and determine: How aligned is your current state with your core values and can you get to your ideal future state from here?
Some things to determine are: Does your current career have the ability to get you where you’d like to be financially and lifestyle-wise? What do you spend your time doing on a day-to-day basis, which of those things energize you and which drain you?
As you document your current situation through the lens of your core values and your ideal future state, note the categories or areas where you have good alignment to core values and where you don’t. These will be important in the next step.
4. Set specific short-, medium- and long-term goals that align your core values, your vision of the ideal future, and enhance or modify your current situation in order to set you on a path to achieving that desired future.
There are numerous methods for structuring goals, so you are free to use whatever method you prefer, as long as the resultant goals are measurable/trackable, clearly align to your core values and put you on a path to your ideal future. I recommend using the SMART goals method if you don’t have another method in mind.
SMART is an acronym that stands for:
Specific: The goal you set should be specific, and you shouldn’t be able to misinterpret or confuse it
Measurable: The goal should allow you to track your progress
Attainable: The goal should be realistic
Relevant: A relevant goal relates to your values and vision
Time-bound: There needs to be a target date for completion
Starting with your 1-year vision, go through each category or area and create SMART goals that when completed will get you to your short-term vision.
Next, look at your 5 and 10+ year visions and do your best to create medium- and long-term goals that can get you there. For these, it’s ok if they are a bit vaguer and not all SMART goals. As you progress, you will evolve these into very specific goals in the future.
5. Take action and track progress.
With your values and vision at the forefront, it’s time to take action on those goals and track progress on a regular basis (I recommend weekly or monthly). Some best practices to keep in mind:
Document your plan in a way that’s easy for you to understand and track whether it’s a whiteboard, journal, spreadsheet, Gantt chart, etc.
If you find you are struggling to make progress, try focusing on one goal at a time or try breaking the goal down into smaller pieces
Perform a full annual reassessment on your values, vision, current situation and goals. Things will likely change over time, so it’s important to revisit this exercise and adjust accordingly
Remember: When goals, values and strategies align, is where you find your superpower
I hope these five steps help you think about setting goals a little differently than you may have in the past. If you have any interest in discussing goal setting in more detail, please don’t hesitate to reach out!
*The book: I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi has a really compelling concept surrounding defining your own ‘rich life.’ It’s focused on the ability to do what you value, and then determining the dollar value you need. By taking this approach you focus on what brings you value/joy and treat money exactly how it should be treated, as a tool.
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