Are your goals closely aligned to your life and values? If not, they are a barrier and one of the most significant factors in achieving your goals.
Reflecting on our goals improves our self-awareness and should happen regularly, not just at the beginning of a new year.
I encourage you to take a mental and physical break often to rest, review and contemplate your values and goals. During vacation, I usually take time to practise my self-awareness skills, a core competency of emotional intelligence to reflect on these aspects of my life.
What are your values?
When I say values, I'm not referring to obvious ones like integrity or honesty – because they are ones that would be on expected to be on most of our lists. What ideologies are important to you besides these. Values; a person's principles or standards of behaviour; what is essential in life to you? Is it connection, loyalty, time management, structure, relationships? Often when we're frustrated with our life, it's due to a misalignment of our values. For example, we may have a goal of networking more both for business or personal. Therefore, we plan and execute six events in two weeks, but somehow we feel frustrated, but why? We set and met the goal; however, if our value is in connecting with people, and we went to networking events like a robot just going through the motions, our connection was missing. Paying attention to the benefits will help us get what we need alongside the actual goal itself.
Do your professional values align with your employer?
As an organization evolves, there is a mission, vision and values statement. A great deal of time is devoted to this statement, and as the company grows, they revisit this, and as they onboard, they hope to hire employees whose professional values align with that of the companies. When I consult with corporate teams, one of the first things we discuss is the company's values and their values. Our work is an integral part of our life, regardless of the role you play at work; it contributes to the big picture. You want to project the best of you and be effective in both your personal and professional life.
You may want to consider your values a little more carefully. Chris Akins, Registered Psychotherapist, suggests two of the following tests:
“First, sit down with your list of values, then go through each value and write down the criteria for that value. Odds are, if you cannot write down several criteria for any particular value, you have not really defined what that value means to you. And if you have not defined the value, you probably have not internalized it. And a value that is not internalized is not really a value that you own for yourself.
Second, after you have really defined your values, reflect on how well you actually keep them. If you say you value family, but your efforts are mostly focused towards work, there may be cause to reconsider how strongly you hold the family value. In other words, the more strongly your behavior reflects the values you want to hold, the more strongly you actually hold those values.”
Learning the impact on a personal level
These recommendations were useful to me during a recent vacation. At the beginning of a holiday, it takes me several days to unwind and begin to rest and relax. Even while on vacation, I have to focus on not scheduling too many things into my days, or I'm back on life's treadmill and not able to give my mind and body a rest. In the middle of our trip late one afternoon, as I sat looking at the sunset over the ocean, I began to visit my life and review my values.
As I sat relaxing on a lounge chair calmly floating at sea, I looked into the absolute beauty of the sunset and began to reflect on the journey that I've taken over the last few years. I took Chris Akins' advice and made a list of my values, the things that were important to me in my life and began to connect the dots to ensure that everything was aligned. It's so important to stop and take a good look at yourself. Take time to visit your values along the way because when they align with your actions, the quality of your life is sure to be more rewarding and fulfilling.
If you're interested in becoming more self-aware and deliberate about your life, consider an emotional intelligence assessment.
This article was originally published on January 21, 2017, and has been updated (June 2020).
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