It seems crazy to say it – but we’re almost at the end of another year. Before we’re whipped up into the mad whirl of Christmas preparations, it’s a good time to take stock and reflect. How has your year been? Have you achieved what you wanted to achieve? Done the things you wanted to do? And what are your goals for 2020?
Over the next few weeks on the blog and podcast we’re going to be looking at issues surrounding goals. It’s all very well to have vague New Year aspirations – to be healthier, more organised, or to progress in our careers. What we’ll be focusing on, however, is how to hone these general aims into specific and achievable goals. The starting point for this process is understanding your motivations. In order to work out what you actually want from your life and career over the next year, you need to know why you want it. And that means knowing your values.
“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” – Roy Disney
You will only ever find real motivation for doing what you have to do in life if you are being authentic and staying true to your core values. Your values are the things that matter most to you – the things that drive you from within. From my own experience, when I was working in the City pre children, I certainly knew what I wanted – a well-paid job with status and recognition – but I had no sense of any deeper meaning to my ambitions. This resulted in a crisis of motivation when I later tried to combine my working life and motherhood. By stepping back, reflecting, and learning to identify my ‘why’, the things that really mattered to me – I was able to work out a better strategy for keeping myself motivated and happy, whilst working and parenting. (Tune into this week’s podcast #42 for more of my personal examples of Living Your ‘Why’).
Knowing your ‘why’, then, is key to setting the right goals, for being able to achieve those goals – and to finding that all important work/life balance. (Keep your eyes and ears peeled for next week’s podcast and blog on making specific goals). The problem that many of us have is not having ever taken the time to properly identify our ‘why’. As I mentioned, I was forced to think seriously about mine when I came under intense pressure trying to combine my career and parenting – and going through that process has really helped me with my subsequent career and work/life decisions. Now my ‘why’ is at the heart of everything I do – and that is what ultimately makes for a fulfilling and rewarding work/life experience.
I would therefore encourage you to take the time and effort required for identifying your ‘why’. To get you started, follow these steps:
Cast your mind back over your life experiences. Think about the times when you felt most excited and energised. What was going on then and what were you doing? Conversely, reflect on some occasions in your life when you felt enraged, frustrated or devastated. Again – what was going on at that time and what were you doing? Write down your thoughts.
2. Connect values to those experiences.
Think about the values that are connected with each of those experiences. Have a look at this list of values to help you and choose a handful that resonate most deeply with how you felt at the time:
Adventure, Ambition, Beauty, Authenticity, Creativity, Excellence, Excitement, Freedom, Friendship, Fun, Honesty, Humour, Integrity, Kindness, Learning, Love, Nurturing, Openness, Recognition, Trust, Balance, Choice, Appreciation, Security, Reward, Growth, Balance, Achievement, Spirituality, Zest, Health, Performance, Order, Risk-taking, Recognition, Loyalty, Challenge, Tolerance, Autonomy, Independence, Originality, Flexibility, Respect, Safety, Stability, Care
3. Choose the values that align most with your best experiences.
Pick a handful of values that recur when you look at your favourable past experiences.
4. Create a values statement for each of your chosen values.
Write a sentence for each of your values explaining what it means to you and your life: eg: Health – ‘It is important to me to eat well and exercise regularly to maintain high fitness and energy levels.’ Or Independence – ‘It is important to me to earn my own money and have control of my finances’.
5. Rank your values.
Think about your values in order of the importance they have to you. Is achievement your top priority? Or is it more important that what you do involves creativity for example?
6. Plan some positive actions that align with your chosen values.
For example – if you value creativity, make a plan to take up a creative hobby or attend classes – pledge to paint or write (or whatever your skill) once a week. If excellence is important, plan a project where there is an opportunity for gaining an award or recognition to give you something tangible to strive for.
7. Reassess your ‘why’ regularly.
Keep yourself on track by regularly checking in with how you are doing in relation to living a life that aligns with your ‘why’. Your values may change as your life circumstances do, so remain self-aware and make sure that whatever you do, and whatever decisions you make – everything is still aligned with the things that really matter to you.
Once you have worked out your ‘why’, you are in a much stronger position for making a success of combining your career with the challenges of parenting in 2020. Tune into this week’s podcast #42 where I’ll be sharing my own personal stories of how living my ‘why’ has helped me achieve my goals – or signup here to find out more about ‘Having it all’ – my one on one coaching programme for 2020.