Do This Before You Set Your New Year’s Goals

We live in a world that is hyperfocused on goal-setting, reaching the next level, flaunting our accomplishments, and analyzing data set after data set so we can create and achieve even more. It’s exhausting!

Don’t get me wrong; I’m a big fan of goal-setting, and creating a measurable objective can help you stay on track and achieve great things.

However, I think it can also be helpful to take a step away from the constant pressure of hitting that next milestone and think in more abstract terms about what you want out of your life.

Before you set your resolutions for the New Year/New Decade (!!!), it may be helpful to do this one thing first: Understand Your Values.

I know this sounds a bit simplistic, and you may be thinking that you already know what you value out of life.

But really understanding what is most important to you, and reflecting on whether or not you are living according to those values, can be incredibly eye-opening. And, it will inspire you to live in a way that leaves you feeling so fulfilled, that setting and accomplishing goals becomes the icing on the cake. Or really just the sprinkles on the icing on the cake.

So how do you do start to gain a deeper understanding of your values? By taking the time to think about them of course!

The exercise below will give you the framework to do just that. Before you begin, get out a pen and a piece of paper or a journal.

1. Take a look at this list of values and qualities (Thank you Scott Jeffrey). Write down any word that is very important to you. Do this before moving on to the next steps! And, if you think of a value that isn’t on this list, go ahead and write it down.

2. Once you have a list of values that resonate, pick the top ten by circling them or highlighting them. If picking 10 is challenging, start by narrowing your list down to 20 or 25, then eliminating from there. And, if you don’t have enough values, go back to the list and pick a few more that you think are important, until you have 10.

3. Next, take those top values, and rate them by importance, 1 being the absolute most important to you. Remember, there is no right or wrong. This isn’t about whether or not you’re living according to these values, it’s more about what values are most important to you at this point in your life.

4. Reflect on your values. In your journal, answer the following questions. Don’t think too hard about what to write, just let your thoughts flow onto the paper.

  • What do your top values really mean to you? Why are they important? What was it like to have to rate them?
  • In what ways is your life aligned with your values? What can you do to shift yourself back if you’re feeling out of alignment? 
  • How would your life be different if you truly honored your values? Are there any areas of your life where you are honoring them? Any where you’re not?
  • How can you create more awareness of your values on a day-to-day basis? When making decisions? When interacting with others? 
  • How does it feel when you are really living your values? Or not living your values?

5. Keep the list of your top values somewhere you can see it. You can use this list as you create your intentions for 2020, or in lieu of any resolutions altogether. Have fun with it, and make it your own, as I did below.

I hope this exercise helped to create a bit more self-awareness, and will inspire you to put more energy towards those things that are important to you. I’d love to hear more about your top values, so please share below!

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