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Why Change? Finding the Values and Goals that Matter to You

30 September 2022 13:55

This edited excerpt from Get Your Life Back by Fiona Kennedy and David Pearson examines how we find the motivation to change by focusing on values and goals that mean something to us.

We all have repeated patterns where we act in ways we would not be proud of. Or sometimes others treat us in ways we do not want to be treated. Identifying these habits and patterns helps us build our motivation to change. But when things do begin to change, we might forget this previous unhappiness and lapse back into old habits. Or we might get stuck and just feel like giving up. Reminding ourselves of the reasons we wanted to change in the first place can help to keep us going.

It is fine to want to stop doing things but the question is, ‘What will I be doing when I’m not doing these things?’ We need to identify what we really want in our lives. Once we know how we want our life to be, we can start taking baby steps towards our goals. Ask yourself, ‘Five years from now, for example, how would I like my life to be?’ Most of us would answer something like this: ‘To feel good about myself; to have someone to love; somewhere comfortable to live; to be healthy; to make a contribution to my community; perhaps to have the job that I want.’

You may notice your mind saying, ‘But I can never manage this. Heaven knows, I’ve tried so many times.’ Life is not always kind, so you need to identify your own personal values and the directions you want to go in your life. Here is another way to get clearer about your values. Imagine you are now eighty years old. Imagine you overhear someone talking about you. They are talking about the kind of person you are and what you have done with your life. What would you like to hear? What kind of person would you like them to say you have been? How will you have treated others around you and how will you have looked after your own needs? What will your achievements have been?

What are values, goals and actions?

Values are about what is really important to you: how you want to live your life. Our values are what make us feel good about ourselves. They show us the way towards the identity that we want. Values can guide our choices so that we do the things that we see as important or desirable. There is no correct or incorrect value or goal: it is personal to each of us, ranging from looking good to wanting a meaningful job. The way in which we relate to others – loved ones, family, people we meet at work – can be dependent on our values. Your values are your reasons to work towards your goals.

It is quite tricky to tell the difference between a value and a goal. One way of looking at it is to say that values are about how we want to be and goals about what we want to do. In fact, it does not really matter. What we are aiming to do here is to:

  1. Get clear about believing in something/wanting something in our life (value/goal)
  2. Imagine how this is going to look in our own life (imagine how this value/goal would look in reality)
  3. Plan to take a small action in this direction (baby step)