In a previous post, I talked about why living your values is one of the five practices of authentic leaders. In reality, living your values is a practice that virtually everyone can benefit from – whether you’re an entrepreneur just starting out, a college student about to enter the workforce, or a seasoned professional ready to take your game to the next level.
Drifting Off Course…
Think back to the beginning of the year. You probably heard a lot of people talking about New Year’s resolutions – goals to advance in a career path, lose weight, improve a skill or learn a new one, buy or sell a home, deepen spirituality – and the list goes on. Maybe you, too, had an outline of goals you wanted to achieve this year.
As author Rebecca Knight affirms in a recent HBR article, it’s one thing to state a goal – and something entirely different to actually accomplish it.
Why do so many people drift off course? And, what can you do to increase the chances of achieving your goals to meet your desired outcome?
How Your Values Guide You
Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, professor of Business Psychology at University College London, explains that we often “set goals that go against our nature”. What this means is that everyone has character traits and habits that have been ingrained over the course of a lifetime. Very often, major life goals involve breaking those ingrained patterns.
Many people fail to achieve a desired outcome because it’s very hard to break those ingrained patterns. When the goals you set aren’t in alignment with your values, it’s like you’re being pulled in two opposite directions.
Yet, many people fail to recognize the critical role their values play not only in establishing clear goals, but in achieving those aims.
When we’re not aligned with our values, we often make fear-based decisions. We allow “what-if” thinking to creep in and react not from a place of poise and confidence, but one of hesitation, doubt and/or fear.
Staying Aligned with Your Values
Before you establish your next goal, examine your values first. Here are helpful tips:
- Identify your most important values. Write or type them to make them real and tangible for you. Your values might focus on: service to others, family, community, leading with authenticity, honesty, lifelong learning, compassion, hard work, etc.
- Keep your list handy, so that you can refer back to it when you’re faced with a challenge, when you need to establish a new goal, or are asked to make a decision.
- Put a support team in place made up of spouses/partners, family members, mentors, trusted friends and even colleagues. Even the most outwardly confident, successful leader needs a trusted network to help her stay on course.
Keep in mind that your values will change during your lifetime, so you’ll find yourself reevaluating your values from time to time. In fact, many people don’t know what their true values are until they’re tested under pressure. When your success, your career, or even your life hangs in the balance, you will learn what is most important to you.
In the words of Roy E. Disney, “When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.”
Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
Colleen Slaughter Raue, Managing Partner of Authentic Leadership International
Colleen is a transformational leadership coach who guides international leaders as they attain the clarity, courage and self-confidence necessary to realize higher levels of productivity and fulfillment in both their personal and professional lives.
Her purpose is to facilitate her clients’ transformation from limiting beliefs and self-doubts into a deeper, more powerful knowingness of how much they – and what they envision for themselves – truly matter.
Colleen’s perspectives were recently featured in an article on the International Coach Federation’s website here.