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Setting Goals in Light of Values

Last week’s post was all about identify top life values – one of my favorite ways of establishing more purpose and direction in life. If you missed last week, I encourage you to go back to it before moving on to this week. Once our values are identified, we can know with certainty that our purposed goals are taking us in the direction of our values.

I have heard it said that values help us to know the direction in which we are headed, for instance they tell us that we are going east. You can go east for a very long time and still be going east. We do not check off our values, we just continue to pursue them through different means and goals. Our values tell us we are going east, our goals tell us we want to go to Washington, D.C.

Setting goals is an important part of pursuing a more meaningful life. Goal setting allows us to reflect on and become more intentional about the direction our life is headed in and steps we are taking to get there.

My favorite way to do this is through setting SMART goals.

Here’s what it means to set SMART goals:

Goals must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

For goals to be specific, they must clearly detail what we hope to achieve – they must indicate where, how, when, with whom, and what obstacles there are to achieving the stated goal.

For goals to be measurable, we need to know exactly how we would know that we have reached that goal. For instance, many set the goal of wanting “to be happy.” For this goal to be specific we need to know what action steps, in what way, and with who we plan to pursue happiness, and for it to become measurable we need to know how we will know that we are happier and have reached the goal.

For a goal to be attainable, it needs to be within our reach. I see this a lot – individuals setting unrealistic or too lofty goals, then becoming discouraged and defeated when they are unable to meet those goals. For instance, I rarely encourage people to set a goal that requires them do something every day consistently, i.e. to meditate every day this week, because if a day is missed, often the rest of the week is also missed out of frustration that the goal has already been unmet. Something that allows for more wiggle room, like to meditate at least 3x weekly, allows for a day to be missed and to get back in rhythm the next day.

For a goal to be relevant, it must be something you genuinely feel is important and falls within your identified values. It’s important to ask yourself, “why do I want to reach this goal?” and “how will this goal bring me toward my stated life values?” If we discover that we are setting goals because we think others would find them important or we are “supposed” to want to do them, that, again, often leads to discouragement and a difficult time with follow through.

For a goal to be timely, it must include a timeline/deadline of completion.

These characteristics help to bring focus, intentionality, and purpose to our goal-setting and increase the chances of us being able to achieve your goals.

Hope you been able to seek direction in identify your values and clarity in setting some SMART goals to lead to a more purposeful life this month!

Have a beautiful, purposeful week!

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