It seems simple enough. You want to lose weight, have more money, work less and play more. But have you ever asked yourself why?
If you continuously fall short of achieving the things you want in your life, then chances are there’s a disconnection between saying you want something and the steps you take to achieve it.
That disconnection is you not knowing your ‘why’.
In order to get the things, you believe you want, you need to first understand what’s important to you, because that’s where your motivation to go after them really comes from.
Define your core values
Knowing your core values (what’s important to you in life) will be the difference between setting goals that resonate as opposed to just frustrate.
Say you want to start exercising, but you’re used to years of sitting around doing nothing, even though you know you should be doing something. Clearly, the benefits of sitting around are far greater than the benefits of exercise.
The first thing you want to do is ask yourself these questions:
- Is this goal actually attainable?
- Is it attractive to me?
- Is it authentic? (Does it resonate with your core values?)
If the answer to those questions isn’t a resounding yes, then it probably doesn’t align with your core values. If that’s the case, doing a personal inventory will help you find out where your priorities lie.
Do a personal inventory
What really counts for us is a difficult thing to identify. Often, we think we should have certain values.
A simple exercise to help you pinpoint your values is to find somewhere quiet, grab a pen and paper, and ask yourself the following questions.
- What’s most important to me in life?” (Don’t overthink it, just write down everything that comes to mind, even if it sounds wrong.)
- For each thing, you write down, put it into this sentence: “What does _______ mean to me?”
If you wrote down money, you might say something like: “Money means ‘achievement’, ‘security’ or ‘freedom’.”
Here you’ve uncovered that your underlying values are: achievement, security or freedom. Money isn’t what you value; it’s your way of getting what you value.
Once you’ve figured out your values, (you can make a list of the top five to seven that are most important to you) ask yourself: Do I currently prioritize these things? If not, why? And think about the changes you need to make so you can live according to your values.
Identify what is important to you
When you’re doing an inventory, listen to the language you use.
If you’re thinking things like “I should do this”, “I ought to do that”, it’s likely that’s not an intrinsic value and that’s okay.
Look beyond the socially acceptable things, otherwise you’re trying to achieve that goal because you feel guilty or ashamed, or worthless because you don’t already do it.
That might motivate you to get started, but it won’t be enough to keep you going.
You need to be able to identify what it is about your goal that adds to you as a person, that makes you feel better and more expansive.
A certain goal might seem desirable, but once you start digging, you might be surprised to find that it’s not actually important to you.
On the other hand, if your goal is aligned with your core values, the thought of it will trigger a positive gut feeling.
That feeling is what will keep you grinding well past the initial feeling of excitement.