The Importance Of Goal-Value Alignment
At times we get so busy setting and pursuing our goals that we forget to ask ourselves why a particular goal is important to us. Do you want to lose weight because your spouse has been nagging you about it, or because you value your health and well-being? Do you want to make more money so that you can keep up with the Joneses, or because you value the freedom that money can provide for you and your family?
Values are those things which a person finds personally rewarding, worthwhile, and, well, valuable. There are countless examples of values; they are as varied and diverse as the people who have them. For example, there are hallmark values such as peace, justice, truth, love, friendship, and moderation. Yet ideas such as greed, selfishness, and deceit are, technically, values as well.
Goals are similar, but slightly different from, values. True, something like ?peace? can be both a goal and a value. Goals are something I aim to achieve; a value is that which I see as useful or significant. Goals are always out there on the horizon, whereas values are usually right here, right now. To merely visualize or wish for the achievement of a goal will get you nowhere ? unless you utilize your values to bring your goals into focus: ?The longest sermon will not lift a grain of sand? (Leonard Leeman).
It serves you best when your values coincide with, and are aligned with, your goals. If I wish to achieve financial success, and am short on dedication, ingenuity, and will, I will be like the proverbial salmon swimming upstream. A gymnast who is not into risk, wellness, and obedience is not likely to achieve his or her goal of an Olympic medal.
Four tips to align your values with your goals:
*Know your values, and know your goals. Though easier said than done, if one knows what they value, and what they wish to achieve in the future, there is a good chance that they can use their values to achieve their goals.
*Put your goals in writing. Create the intermediate steps to achieving your goal. If you want to lose weight, concentrate on your weekly food intake and calorie reduction. Use values such as courage, will, and creativity to make movement toward a slimmer you.
*Create goals that are aspirational in nature, and yet realistic. It?s no good to reach your goal every day; goals ought to be those ideals that take weeks, months, and years to see come to fruition. However, watch that your goals are not ?unrealistic? or it could sap your self-esteem.
*Believe that it is indeed up to you to decide what your values are, and what your goals are. Your parents, church, community, boss, country, and the media all have ideas about what you should value, but I firmly believe that a person can reach their potential for fulfillment and responsibility when they themselves decide what they value, what they believe, and why. If you?re using someone else?s values to pursue someone else?s goals, you?re headed for burnout.
In summary, use your values to reach your goals. If you want to accomplish something, what will it take? Your true values. Don?t put the cart in front of the horse ? you have to put your values first. Selfishness cannot breed love. Jealously will not beget kinship ? there is a misalignment between the value (jealously being a type of selfishness) and the goal (relationship). You cannot achieve peace in your heart and in our world (goal) by using aggressive and selfish means to achieve it, for the goal you have in mind is not consistent with the values that it would take to achieve it. Putting your values such as dedication, empathy, self-knowledge, kindness, will, justice, charity, and creativity first is how you arrive at peace ? by no other means will you achieve your goal. Consider Bennedict Spinoza?s sage advice: ?Peace is not an absence of war. It is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition?.? A. J. Muste?s words are also potent: ?There is no way to peace; peace is the way.?
About the Author: Jason Merchey is a philosophical thinker, author, speaker, coach, poet, blogger, talk radio show host, founder of Values of the Wise and, facetiously, "the Wise Guy."