Personal Goal Setting

What is Your Motive?

Fundamental to self-motivation is understanding what motivates you to do things.

This may sound straightforward but sometimes your motivation is hidden from your consciousness – your own personal hidden agenda.  Your motivation may well change from hour-to-hour, day-to-day and through life.  As this happens your needs, wants and goals and values change and evolve.

Your values (should) determine your priorities, and, deep down, they’re probably the measures you use to tell if your life is turning out the way you want it to. When the things that you do and the way you behave match your values, life is usually good – you’re satisfied and content.

Have you ever worked with a manager who knew what mattered and stood her ground about these things? Then you probably worked with a manager who leads from her values. Leading with values is a leadership philosophy that steps outside of measuring success by prestige, personal wealth and power. It is not about emulating the great leaders of yesteryear. Instead, it is a practice of identifying what matters to you, what you stand for and what values you have in your life. With this basis of knowing your purpose, making the right decisions in life and leadership becomes easy.

Making the right decisions is only the beginning. Leading with values is important for leaders because it creates and maintains company culture, informs employee selection, guides the direction of company growth, and adds meaning to the work required to maintain the organization. That meaning starts with the leader, and passes down to all levels of the team.

However, understanding your values and doing the “right thing” isn’t simple. In fact, for all of us, it’s a lifetime challenge that requires thought and practice. So let’s talk about the definition of a value.

What is a value?

Many people think that values are ethics or morals; they’re not. Values are what is important to us, what we ‘value’, and what gives us purpose. Just as organizations have values, individuals do too. Most people have approximately 5-7 core values that identify who they are at their core. Each person’s values are unique to that person; even if two people happen to pick the same value word, such as integrity, each person will demonstrate it differently in her daily actions and language.

It’s important to note that values aren’t just for work. Values reflect who we are on a daily basis, in everything we do at home and at work. This holistic approach helps us be a leader in all aspects of our life, not just in our careers.

Why do I need to know my values?

Values give us our sense of purpose. On a leadership level, when we align with our values on a daily basis, we have more energy and feel more fulfilled because we are leading from what’s important to us. When we don’t align with our values, we feel less authentic and become demotivated about our daily lives, which reflects in our leadership.

Think of it as a tree: values are our roots that keep us grounded in what’s important to us. The strength of the values determines the strength of the trunk, branches, leaves and fruit from year to year. A strong tree supports the ecosystem around it; a leader with strong values supports the organizational culture.

How Do I Find My Values?

Values are like a compass that points us to our “true north.” Let’s review a great exercise to help you clearly identify your core values. Can you recall a moment where your life couldn’t get any better? When everything felt aligned? It may have even felt like the best day of your life. Take some time to remember this peak moment and follow these steps:

1. Describe this peak moment in detail. If you are working on this exercise alone, write the description. If you are doing this exercise with someone, talk about this moment for 2-3 minutes while the other person takes notes.

2. Think about and discuss what values are recognizable in this particular peak moment.

3. Pick the value or values that you’ve identified as most important to you. (Remember that your values apply to both your personal and professional worlds.)

From the three potential values I identified above, I pick ‘adventurous’ as the one that is most important to me in both my career and personal life.

4. Define what the chosen value or values mean to YOU.

5. Choose a value name that resonates with YOU.

6. Continue the process until you define approximately 5 core values.

How Do I Put My Values in Action?

Now it’s time to put your values into practice. Here are three practical tips to help you begin the process.

Tip One: Before making a decision, follow these five steps:

  1. First, review your list of values. For this exercise, it is best to have your values written down.
  2. Then ask yourself this question about the value you have listed as number one: “On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, how well does the perceived outcome of this decision or opportunity align with value number one?” Then write down the number.
  3. Ask the same question about each value on your list.
  4. After you’ve rated the perceived outcome of this decision or opportunity for each of your core values, add the numbers up and find the average.
  5. Lastly, evaluate the score. Your aim is to get a score of seven or higher on average. If you score below seven, the decision or opportunity may not align enough with your values to be considered.

Tip Two: Check in on your values daily

Ideally, you should “check in” on your values daily. (If daily feels like too much, try weekly.) Personally, I do this on the way home from work. I ask myself, “How well did my decisions and behavior align with value #1 today?” This takes only two minutes yet provides you with a good sense of what to improve the next day. It keeps you focused and in touch with what is important to you.

Tip Three: Purposefully remind yourself of your values

It’s important to have a visual reminder of your values, in addition to your list of values. This keeps them front and center in your mind. Here are some easy ways to remind yourself of your values on a regular basis:

  • Create a screensaver.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of a post-it.
  • Find a picture that represents one of your values and keep it somewhere you will see it daily.
  • Choose a song to represent one or more of your values and listen to it once a day as part of your morning, afternoon, or evening ritual.
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