The Direction Your Life Takes Depends on Your Values, not Goals
What mark would we like to leave on this world after everything is over? Sometimes we find ourselves feeling like we have no control. It feels like we’re on a big bus going anywhere our fellow passengers want. We make decisions based on what people around us say we should do. And so, we end up taking paths heading a completely direction than our values.
We carry baggage full of insecurity, getting heavier and heavier as time passes, and leaving no room for our values. As a result, we are blinded to the fact that time does not stop. And that turning back is not always possible.
We take paths that leave us unfulfilled. Paths chosen for us by others. They are forced on us with nice-sounding words like, “it’s what’s best for you”, “believe me, it’s the right thing to do”, “this is what you deserve now.” Then one day, we discover ourselves driving but our hands aren’t on the wheel.
Values are life’s signposts
To begin with, a value is not an outcome or goal. A value cannot run out, it is always there. Values define the words we use to shape our lives: acceptance, persistence, order, conformity, impartiality, intimacy. It is a long list of directions we use to choose goals that really matter to us.
Therefore, a valuable life is the result of acting in service to things we actually value. The problem is that many times we don’t know how to identify what those values are, and how they relate to our lives.
Regrets at the wrong time
Bronnie Ware, a Canadian nurse, collected the last regrets of her patients in a palliative care unit over several years. An article published later by the Harvard Business Review corroborated the same information. There are 5 common regrets of people who are going to die, “I wish I…”:
“Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values.”
Let’s remember the key is to anticipate this frustration, to find our values and to set objectives which that give meaning to this journey of life. Psychological professionals help people go from words to action. The first step is to identify our values and prioritize them based on where we are in life.
From that point, short and long term goals are established. This means our values will form the pillars upon which we will be setting long-term goals. Objectives that really give us meaning and the opportunity to grow and be happy with ourselves.
Then we will specify and plan out those objectives with actions. This is the scary part because we have to anticipate difficulty. Making changes causes insecurity, and we might want to run away. But we work throughout the whole process to overcome obstacles and barriers. We must always keep in mind that there is no greater health than the one achieved through our own choices.