Happy New Year! I hope you are feeling the exciting energy of the fresh start 2022 offers you, and are filled with optimism for the coming year.
This sense of renewal and new beginnings can inspire hope in January, and like me, you might find yourself noticing the slightly longer hours of daylight, or searching the gardens and parks for early signs of spring.
As humans, we are naturally drawn to beginnings and endings and we use them to create meaning in many aspects of our lives. Be it the hope in the dawning of a new day, the closure needed in the ending of a relationship, the ‘I’ll start on Monday’ vibe at the beginning of a new week to make health-related changes; you probably use this cycle of ending and re-birth to your benefit without even realising.
This is especially evident in the first few weeks of the new year when we usually set ambitious goals for ourselves. Often spurred on by our hopes of ending whatever cycle we have been stuck in and starting again on the right track, we dream of creating a better path to ‘a new you’.
But how often have you set personal goals or resolutions in January, only to give up before February?
The reason your resolutions don’t last, is that they are often based on your head, not your heart. You think you should set this health, lifestyle or career goal, without stopping to work out if it’s the right goal for you.
For example, say you want to lose weight. What is the motivation behind this goal? Is it health-related because you value fitness? Would it allow you to live with more ease because you value independence? Or play with your children because you value your family time? Or is it because the ads you see on social media make you feel bad about yourself?
Bringing your heart into the goal setting process allows you to identify what is important to you (your values) which feeds into what it is that you really want to achieve in your life; your vision.
Your goals are like stepping stones to help you on your journey to achieve your vision, and to be successful it is essential that they align with your values and vision.
Your personal values are the strengths, characteristics and underlying principles of life that matter to you. They might be things like ‘freedom’, ‘family’, ‘fun’, ‘kindness’, ‘self-care’, ‘simplicity’, ‘focus’, anything that is important to you that you, well, value!
If you don’t know what your values are, click here to get my free guide to identifying them (includes a list of 240 values!).
To convince you to include this step in setting your resolutions, here are 5 reasons you should identify your personal values before setting goals:
1. Clear Life Vision & Goals
When you think about how you want to live your life, you are focusing on your values. Knowing them can help you get clarity about your vision; what you want your life to look like and how you want it to feel. When you know where you want to be, it is easier to select goals that help you get closer to this future life. Think of your values like a compass that keeps you heading in the right direction towards your larger life vision.
2. Easier Decision Making
When you know your vision and values it becomes much easier to make decisions.
Does this choice help me stay true to my values? Yes - go ahead; no - stop and think. It isn’t always possible to meet all of your values exactly, but making time to reflect on whether your choices are aligned may lead you to a better decision or a satisfactory compromise.
Say you want to change careers; focusing on your values of freedom, flexibility, creativity and fun can help you to narrow the field or even work out whether a job is right for you. Does this job reflect your values? What would you be willing to compromise on? If you had to compromise on the fun aspect, where will you build that into your life outside of work?
Using your values to guide your decision making almost automatically moves you a step closer to achieving your goals and just makes life so much simpler.
3. Easier Behavioural Changes
You have probably noticed that some habits are easier to change than others. This is most likely because they fit in with your personal values and help you move closer towards your vision. For example, if you want to improve your fitness, going for a daily brisk walk or run might be easier to achieve if you value time alone in nature; whereas attending a Zumba class might work if you value fun and connection with other people.
If your wider vision requires changing some aspects of your behaviour, or creating positive habits, you will definitely find them easier to achieve if you make sure they are aligned with your goals.
4. Greater Sense of Purpose
Have you ever felt lost or like something is missing from your life? That feeling is a clue that your life is out of alignment with your personal values (even if you aren’t consciously aware of them).
Life satisfaction often accompanies a sense of meaning and purpose and can be achieved by setting and achieving goals that contribute to fulfilling your life vision. This will give you the feeling that you are moving purposefully in the right direction and confident that your actions are contributing to a better quality of life.
5. More Time
This one is incredibly simple. How much time have you wasted thinking about what you should do next, feeling overwhelmed by the myriad of choices available to you or worrying whether you have made the right decision?
Knowing your values cuts through all of that uncertainty. A simple check whether your options are aligned with your values and vision can help you make decisions quicker and with more confidence, freeing up your time for more important things.
Of course, knowing all of this doesn’t mean it will be easy to make life changes, but it can get you on the right path. To really lock in your values, vision and goals for 2022 I would strongly recommend booking some coaching sessions...