Beyond Resolutions: Why Value-Aligned Goals Survive Past January

I was coaching a client who had decided that new year’s resolutions were a waste of time as she never stuck to them anyway. The new trend now is for people to have a word for the year like ‘Courage’ or ‘Resilience’ rather than a resolution. After all, how can you measure how resilient you were as opposed to how many times you went to the gym or stayed away from the fridge at night time?

January promised new beginnings, countless people set ambitious goals, eager to make changes in their lives. However, we are almost at the end of January, many of these goals have been abandoned. The core reason? A fundamental misalignment with their true values. Losing weight because to fit in a bridesmaid’s dress because you value your friendship with the bride is not the same as losing weight because you value your health and want to feel good in your body. Same outcome, different drivers.

The Enthusiasm of New Beginnings

January, symbolising a fresh start, often inspires us to set goals. These goals range from fitness targets to career advancements, shaped largely by societal norms or expectations. The initial enthusiasm is palpable, but without a deep, intrinsic connection to what truly matters to us – our core values – this enthusiasm wanes rapidly. The problem is that a lot of people do not know what their values are. Some people, women in particular have been people pleasing for so long, they genuinely cannot separate their values from their obligations.

The Values-Goals Disconnect

Core values are the guiding principles that dictate behaviour and can help people understand the difference between what is important to them and what is not. When goals are set without considering these values, there’s a disconnect. For example, if ‘family time’ is a top value but your goal is to work extra hours for a promotion, this misalignment creates an internal conflict. Goals not rooted in your values feel more like obligations rather than aspirations, leading to reduced motivation and eventual abandonment.

The Role of Societal Influence

Societal pressures often dictate the nature of our New Year resolutions. The media, social networks, and peer groups can heavily influence our goal-setting process. This external influence can lead to setting goals that resonate more with societal ideals than with our own personal values. The result? Goals that are more about external validation than internal fulfilment.

Understanding Personal Values

A key step in successful goal setting is understanding and acknowledging one’s personal values. This involves an investment of your time, introspection and sometimes, a shift in perspective. Values like creativity, autonomy, service, or stability must be identified and embraced, but a lot of the time, they don’t feel tangible enough and are discounted. However, goals aligned with these values are pursued with more passion and persistence because they are a true reflection of what we find meaningful.

As a coach, when people come to me with a set of goals, I always ask them what they will die in a ditch for!

The Challenge of Value Identification

One reason for the misalignment is the lack of awareness or understanding of one’s own values. Many people have not taken the time to truly delve into what their core values are. Without this understanding, goal-setting becomes a task based on what one thinks they should be doing, rather than what they truly want to achieve. Doing what you think you should be doing is hard work and not sustainable.

The Path to Alignment

The path to aligning goals with values starts with self-reflection. It requires an honest assessment of what is truly important to you. Once values are clearly defined, goals can be set that not only align with these values but also feel more attainable and satisfying. This alignment leads to greater perseverance and a higher likelihood of achieving these goals.

Embracing Flexibility

It’s important to remember that values can evolve over time. You are not the same person you were 10 years ago. Different stages of life require different focus. Therefore, flexibility in both understanding your values and adjusting your goals accordingly is crucial for long-term success.

Conclusion

As we navigate through the year, the challenge is not just to set goals but to set goals that are deeply rooted in our core values. This alignment creates a powerful synergy that not only propels us towards our goals but does so in a way that enriches and fulfils us. It’s time to shift the focus from what we think we should achieve to what we genuinely want to achieve. Only then can we break the cycle of abandoned resolutions and embrace a path of meaningful and sustainable personal growth.

If you would like to set value-aligned goals that you will stick to like glue, I will be delivering a workshop in February when the research shows that some 70% of people will have given up on their new year’s resolutions. I figure that will be the right time to set some proper goals. If you would like to attend, click here to register.