Goals and Values
Many of us are familiar with the concept of goals – working towards a desired outcome in the short, medium or long term. For example, “I want to save this much money by Christmas”, or “I want to run a marathon one day”.
Goals are important for motivation and discipline... however, there are some downsides. When we don’t achieve our goals, we can feel deflated and bad about ourselves. Our so-called “failures” can become fuel for beating ourselves up.
Goals can also be based on what other people think is important. We may set certain goals because we think that to be a successful or worthwhile person, we must achieve what other people place value on.
But what about what we value…what even are values?
Dr Russ Harris, a renowned trainer and therapist in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, describes values as a type of compass that give our lives direction towards what is meaningful.
When trying to identify your own values, think about how you spend your time, your important relationships, your faith or spirituality, your hobbies, your job… what are the things that really make life meaningful for you?
For example, if you like gardening in your spare time, perhaps the underlying value is about an appreciation for nature. You don’t have to have the “best” garden, you can simply enjoy watching your plants grow and find other ways to spend time in nature.
Perhaps you enjoy travelling, and the underlying value is about meeting new people and a sense of adventure. Even when you can’t travel because of COVID restrictions, you can find other ways of living in line with this value, such as joining a new group or looking for places to visit in your state.
Values can be more helpful than goals because they don’t place pressure on us to “achieve”. Values give us endless possibilities to explore what is important, even in the tough times. And if we do want to set goals, we can be sure that they are meaningful to us… more on this later.