• Dr. Sharon Livingston

Do Your Goals Reflect What You Value?


What could make more sense, your goals will be easier to attain if they reflect what you value? But you’d be amazed at how few people can say what they actually do value. And, one critical reason goals are difficult to achieve is that while they seem to make sense, the ones we struggle with are often NOT heart felt, not in line with what you value. In the last article, I invited you to think about your real self. If you haven’t read it, you can see it here. https://www.drsharonlivingston.com/single-post/2020/10/20/When-Do-You-Feel-Most-Like-Your-True-Self Many people told me it’s a worthwhile exercise. Think about it. Who do you admire? What is it about them? When are you most grounded in who you are? When do you feel most Inspired? Confident? Excited about life? How do those people, those moments reflect what’s important to you? Let me give you an example. One of my clients came to me to help him get a job he wanted. He had been a successful financial consultant, with international investment banks. It was a lucrative position for over a decade. The company folded. And more importantly, his whole industry had changed with many others like him losing their positions. He was on his own. After a year of looking with nothing materializing, he showed up in my office. Hearing about the struggle and his disappointments in finding a new slot, I asked him to tell me what he enjoyed doing. His eyes lit up as he talked about running in nature, playing with his little boys and delighting in their “wise” observations on life, reading about world history, listening to classical music, having a beer with a friend, and occasionally traveling to far off cities around the world. He loved learning about different cultures and spoke several languages. The only thing that resonated with his job, was having a beer with a friend. He took his clients out for drinks as part of the getting to know you process. That was his favorite part – dropping the pretenses and having real conversations which created a closer tie and friendship which encouraged the client to feel safe with him, want to spend more time with him, work with him and led to a sale. He most enjoyed getting to develop that trusting relationship. But that was only a small part of his work. We talked about how he might leverage that relationship building facility he had as part of a career shift. After considering a number of different fields and work options that needed his skills, he started applying for high level opportunities in Public Relations that emphasized building and maintaining international connections and alliances. He was particularly interested in Eastern Europe since he was fluent in Russian. His career search became exciting instead of draining and depressing. Interestingly, when an old financial colleague learned that he had changed his focus he secured an introduction to an executive at a premier global intellectual property law firm. They hit it off in the first interview. He is now director of Public Relations and Content Management, adding Chinese to his language knowledge library. Another client was having trouble staying committed to her weight loss goal. She’s 5’4” medium build and her weight hovers around 150 lbs. Her doctor told her that her blood pressure would come down and she would be healthier in general as well as less depressed if she lost 25 lbs. She also wanted to take off the weight to feel more attractive. Every Monday she resolved to eat better and exercise, but by Wednesday she was back to her old habits and actually was beginning to gain weight. We talked about what got in the way. We talked about her food choices. We talked about her feelings about moving and breathing deeply. I asked about her feeling depressed. And then the topic of her marriage came up. As we dug a little deeper it became apparent that an important part of what she valued in her life was lacking. She and her husband had not been intimate in almost a year. She described herself as someone who loved to be in love, to be close and physical. She told herself that the reason they were distant must be her appearance. Although upsetting, this belief gave her a sense of control. If only she lost the weight, all would be fine again. There was something she could do. But what if that failed? What if she was that attractive person she wanted to be and he still remained distant. It was a huge risk, one that she was terrified to take. She realized that it was critical to evaluate and work on the relationship to whatever end. Look, it’s not easy. We’re still in process and now that she’s doing it for herself, now that she’s valuing and taking care of herself, she’s losing weight. Her blood pressure has improved and she’s feeling physically stronger. The jury is still out on the future of her marriage, but she’s dedicated to herself while both she and her husband are working on their commitment to each other. Knowing what you value, what is meaningful to you will help in thinking about your current goals and how they fit your personal beliefs. When you’re working towards outcomes that allow you to be authentic, that’s a clue that you are in alignment with your values. And when you have to betray yourself to fit in or find success, you may feel regretful and alone and demotivated. Here’s a starter list of things one might value. Add your own if you see something missing


Altruism Beauty Being Ethical Being in Control Community Compassion Creative Expression Democracy Excellence Faith Fame Family Freedom Health and Wellness Integrity Order Productivity Romantic Love Trustworthiness Strength Wealth


Write down the goal you’ve been struggling to attain as crisply as possible.

E.g., My goal is to become a corporate consultant in team building.

Or, my goal is to lose 20 lbs through diet and exercise in the next 3 months.

Or, my goal is to get back to my painting and create 5 new paintings in the next month.

Or, . . . fill in the blank.

The chart below will help you think about what’s really important to you [whether it is to anyone else or not]. We can then look at how your goals and actions line up with what you value.

Use the grid below to do the following . . .

  1. Put an X next to all of the ones in the chart that you value.

  2. Add others that were left out

  3. Rate each one on 1 – 10 scale, where 10 is very important to you and one is not really that important. Use any number from 1-10 for each one.

  4. Select the top 10 most important to you

  5. In the next column, choose the top 5 and label them in order of importance, 1 is most important, 2 next most, etc.

  6. Now look at your goal. Which of the values you chose as your top 5 line up with your goal?

List out your top five values.

Ask yourself for each: For each of the top 5 values, is my goal in line with this value?

What specific actions have you taken in the last week that demonstrate your commitment to that value? How might you do so more often going forward?

For those values that are in alignment with your goal, jot down in what ways the goal and that particular value are in sync?

For those that are not in sync with your value, how not?

Reflection:

What did you notice?

Are there any areas that surprised you?

How does this impact your thoughts and feelings about your goal?

Bottom line: Is your hard to reach goal in tune with what you value?

In the next article, we’ll discuss actions you can take to further assess whether to continue with this goal; if so, how so; and/or when and how to consider another opportunity.

If this has raised some questions that you might want help to consider further feel free to contact me.

DrSharonLivingston@Gmail.com. Or 201 614 4439, cell 603 505 5000.

To your success

Doc Sharon