Written by Stephanie Grunewald, PhD

Core Values: The Secret to Powerful Life Goals

Many people focus on achieving goals. However, the reason for these goals is often ignored. Sometimes people set out to achieve a goal without really considering why. For example, someone might set a goal to make 1 million dollars. While this is a perfectly fine goal, it is important to consider why it matters. This is where finding the values in your life becomes important.

Perhaps 1 million dollars would allow for traveling, trying new foods, or taking time off. However, these things can occur in smaller ways without having to wait until 1 million has been earned. Beginning to seek the things you enjoy now would allow for increased life satisfaction along the journey toward the goal rather than only feeling satisfied once the goal is achieved. Identifying the why – or the values – helps find ways to live each day in accordance with what matters most.

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What are values?

Simply put, values are what you believe matter most in life. Values cannot be “achieved” like a goal. Instead, values serve as a compass that guides decisions in accordance with the direction you want your life to go. When you connect with your values, your life will move in meaningful directions. Values contribute to beliefs, ideas, and attitudes that ultimately impact how you will respond to life circumstances.

How Do Core Values Inform Our Life Goals?

If we go back to the example of the 1-million-dollar goal, some underlying values could be accomplishment, freedom, and prosperity. Moving in the direction of these values might encourage reflection on whether taking on another project that would help accomplish the goal, but would inhibit freedom, is worthwhile. Focusing on why allows each guiding decision to lead to a sense of fulfillment along the journey towards goal achievement.

Everyone chooses their own values, and they may change over time. There are many ways to categorize values and there are no “right” values. Rather, identifying one’s values is a very personal experience highlighting what brings meaning to your life.

Living life in accordance with values leads to satisfaction and contentment.

Analyzing and clarifying values can be helpful for self-improvement and overall wellbeing.

Sometimes people are acutely aware they are unhappy but do not know why or what to do about it.

Defining your values

There are many different exercises to help you identify your values, but here is just one brief example:

  • Reflect on the times when you are happiest.
  • Identify what makes you feel proud.
  • Notice when you feel fulfilled.
  • Taking the responses from the previous steps, list 3-5 of those words to help identify “core values”. If you need help coming up with words to capture your values, here is one useful tool to assist you. 

Once you know what you value most, you can reflect on whether or not you are living your life accordingly. For example, someone might say they value family, but work 80-hours per week and spend very little time with their identified value – family. In order to feel fulfilled, it is important that the time/effort allocation between values and actions aligns.

To help live your life of value, Contact Restorative Counseling today!

The Restorative Counseling team recognizes the importance of living the life you desire. We are here to help you identify the values that will bring meaning to your life and help guide you along your journey. To get started, schedule an appointment with one of our clinicians today.

headshot of stephanie wearing a pink shirt standing on a nature trail smiling

Hello! I’m Stephanie.

I help adults identify strengths and learn strategies to manage stress, deal with life transitions, and overcome anxiety. Read more about me.

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