It’s the beginning of the year so you know what that means; new years resolutions! It’s the perfect time of year to not only create those goals but also more importantly to ensure they’re the right goals for you. So how do you know if your goals are the right ones for you? Only you can create them and truly know whether they are a good fit but it’s my hope to give you a couple of basic tools and tips to figuring it out.
The most important element when determining whether your goals are appropriate is to ensure they are aligned with your values. What are values? “a person’s principles or standards of behavior” is their technical definition. Values guide you and they are typically a product of genetics and the environment you were raised in.
When I work with clients regarding their cash flow, one of the first things I mention is that I have absolutely no opinion on where they spend their money; I only care that their cash flow habits ultimately mirror where their values are. If I have a client who values “adventure”, I better see a portion of their budget dedicated to travel and/or exploration and it’s a core part of our discussion.
Okay so now that we know values-driven goal planning is important, how exactly do you go about creating goals that are aligned with your values? This isn’t an exercise that can be done quickly and certainly isn’t a one-time task. Determining what is important to you often takes years or decades to truly define. It’s important to remember that this entire process should be a long-term evolving exercise that changes year to year. To get started though, I have a few tips/suggestions you can take to start refining your goals to match your values.
Tip #1: Do an energy & values “audit”: the first tip has to do with looking back at previous weeks, months and years and determine how you have previously valued things in your life. This process consists of reflecting on your past couple of years and determining where you spend your time, where you spend your money, and which of those activities energize you.
For example, if you were most energized when you were meeting new friends and colleagues, that element of your life is likely part of your value system.
Write down all the activities that you feel were most important over the last year or two so you can get some ideas for how to incorporate them with your goals.
Tip #2: Complete a values exercise: there is no shortage of values exercises available and these exercises should be able to help you identify some values that resonate with you that you may not already have in your life. One exercise I have recommended before is Hannah Moore of Guiding Wealth’s value exercise in which you see a list of adjectives and you start with circling the top 20-30 that resonate, then refine to the top 10-15, then to the top 5-7. You can also Google search “values exercises” and likely find an exercise that’s a good fit for you.
After completing this exercise, you should have a list of values that you may already be living and values that resonate that you aren’t necessarily giving enough time to. Now onto the next tip.
Tip #3: Identify 3-5 goals that in some way have to relate to the values you have written down. It doesn’t need to be one for one but you should ensure that all your goals hit on your values in some way. Here’s an example:
· Financial Independence
My goals may be something like:
· Grow my business by 30% in 2022 (related to competition)
· Continue learning through designations, certifications, and self-reading (related to learning)
· Travel to new destinations with my family (related to relationships and play)
· Contribute more to retirement than previous years (relates to financial independence)
· Connect with new colleagues/friends in 2022 (relates to relationships)
It’s important to remember that goals should be larger overarching themes and then there will be tactical items over each month to meet those goals. So “grow my business” really becomes 3-5 tasks over the year that I’m focused on completing that directly results in meeting the goal.
You can see how all the values are interwoven in the overarching goals I’m hoping to achieve in 2022. So now that you’ve identified and confirmed values are related to the goals you’ve selected, you are well on your way to living your “best life.” I do believe it’s important to find a place to track progress on these goals, but remember not to obsess or get discouraged if you aren’t hitting them 100% of the time.
Ultimately the goal of setting goals in the first place is to push yourself every year and to enjoy the life you lead.