Our natural abilities, personal style, skills, families of origin, and current stage of life are foundational and objective. They tell us what our make-up is, what kind of unique ship we are. Our values and goals give us direction and purpose. What is important to me, and what do I want to achieve? If I know what kind of ship I am, where do I want to set sail for and why?
A lot of us end up being herded into certain directions because our friends are going that way, or perhaps there is family pressure to become a certain type of professional, whether a doctor or clergy person or police officer. And of course there are the universal desires for recognition, wealth, prestige, etc. Highlands calls this the Lemming Conspiracy. We unthinkingly follow the herd, even when the herd is going off in a direction that is contrary to who we are and what we believe.
Identifying our personal values and life goals requires some introspective work: What gives my life meaning and purpose? Where do I invest most of my time and energy? Does this align with the things I value? Are my life goals my own, or were they foisted on me? Many of us have unthinkingly adopted others’ values and goals without really thinking about what is important to us.
Examples of values include health, spirituality, family, friendships, financial security, status, wisdom, excitement/fun, creativity, leisure, new experiences, and autonomy/power.
Rank your values in order. Be specific and descriptive about what each value means to you.
Now rank your values relative to where you currently invest the bulk of your time and energy.
Do your values align with your current time and energy investment, or are they widely divergent? For example, did you rank health or family high on your list, but find that you don’t spend much time on fitness or with your significant other or children?
What changes can you make in your life now so that you are living in greater alignment with your own values?
The difference between a desire and a goal is that a goal is specific, measurable, attainable, and time-bound. So “getting into shape” is a desire, but “running a 5k at the end of three months” is a goal.