Why Values Are More Important than Goals

There’s been much talk in the blogosphere recently about goal-setting for 2017. No surprise really, it having been the beginning of a new year not that long ago. I didn’t set any goals for this year, which is quite typical for me, yet for some reason this year, I felt like I needed to do something along those lines anyway. I’ve come to realise over the years, that values are more important than goals, hence the name of this blog, “There’s Value” and it’s tagline ‘value and purpose in life’ (ha, it’s not just about investing in value stocks).

I think this feeling came about because I’ve been working on a project with a friend and as part of our work, I had to re-read The Power of Full Engagement (*), which is an amazing book every one of you should read. I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s essentially about peak performance and getting the best out of life, by concentrating on managing your energy instead of your time. The authors draw on their work in sports coaching and use what they’ve learned to show how we can all learn to perform highly without stressing ourselves out. However, the book reminded me about the differences I’ve come to perceive between goals, themes, and values in my life, so I decided to work again on those things which were of true importance to me.

The book reminded me about the differences I’ve come to perceive between goals, themes, and values in my life, so I decided to work again on those things which were of true importance to me. I guess having two children, starting a third company, and quitting my part-time job to look after my poorly child (and simultaneously work from home) in August 2016 have all been pretty major life changes and pretty busy activities. So, you could say I’ve had a lot to think about lately.

Why Values Are So Important

Values are crucial to you as a person. They define who you are and reflect your deepest beliefs. Knowing and adhering to your core values in a congruent fashion is essential to living an authentic and happy life. Let me give you an example. Let’s say you love your partner or spouse and are committed to him/her, but you both live very full lives. Nevertheless, you agree to do date night once a week. Even if you don’t go out, you can have a simple, candlelit dinner at home, or have a beer and watch a movie together and that will be a special occasion for you both. However, if you spend the entire time talking about work or some TV show you just saw, you’re not really putting energy into your partner – thus you are being incongruent about your value of love and commitment for your partner or spouse.

Being incongruent in our values versus our actions leads to a great energy drain, because our mental and emotional lives don’t match our physical output and expression of our values. I suspect the main reason we don’t do what we say we should or would love to do is a selfish pattern of “pain avoidance”. We don’t put effort into our partner or kids or whatever else because we have tricked ourselves into thinking that it is somehow painful, it takes too much effort, I’m tired, wouldn’t it be better to just chill and slob out in front of the TV… etc. All these excuses and many more to avoid getting over the small effort of being true to ourselves. Sheer laziness.

And I admit, I am guilty of it. We all are really. We have moments where we just can’t be f*cking bothered. That’s reality. But I feel that if we regularly look at our deepest values and try to live according to those, we will have less of these ‘lazy’ moments. We will strive for action, because we will feel that warm glow when we do get over the small hill of effort and go sailing down the other side.

What Did I Actually Do Though?

I suggested to my spouse that we come up with five or six ‘family themes’. Things that we valued as a family and wanted to make key themes in our familial life. Things that we wanted our children to hold fast to, and things which we felt were deeply important for a family unit. We each took a day or two to ponder (amidst the busyness of our lives) and then pooled our collective ideas together. This is what we got:

  1. Supportiveness;
  2. Cleanliness (Peacefulness – being clean and tidy is peaceful, whereas having crap all over the place is definitely NOT peaceful);
  3. Learning;
  4. Health;
  5. Relaxation;
  6. Fun.

It’s not meant to be an exhaustive list, and there are many more values that we each adhere to personally, but these are things we felt are necessary for our own family to work together well, smoothly, and happily as a family unit. Under each of these main headings we wrote ideas about how to achieve each of those things e.g. exercise 3x per week under ‘Health’, and do one fun activity as a family every weekend under ‘Fun’. The good thing about these is that they don’t have to cost money or be a special trip or anything big, because as soon as you have kids your bank account feels like it’s being robbed every month anyway! The point is that you live according to these values and you find various ways of upholding them

The point is that you live according to these values and you find various ways of upholding them, you don’t have to have specific goals, but sometimes specific goals really help, especially things like exercising 3x per week. Yet things like ‘being supportive’ don’t lend themselves well to goals, so we do that by looking at the themes regularly and holding each other to account. Sitting down once a week over a glass of wine or something else you enjoy and talking over things form the previous week is a great opportunity to connect with your partner or kids or a friend. Lots of people I know have ‘accountability partners’ for their spiritual journey, or a coach or business mentor for their work, exercise, or lifestyle journeys.

What do you think, are values more important than goals? Let me know, leave a comment below 🙂


  1. Refreshing post M. Thank you for sharing!

    I’m well into my goals (as you know), but I’ve recently tried to make mine around habits and processes rather than just outcomes. I think outcome goals are useful for measuring progression, but I, and many others, get stuck on focussing on them and not the tasks that lead to that very outcome.

    I love the concept of weekly family reviews. How wonderful!

    I strongly encouraged Lou (she had little choice), to listen to Tony Robbins’ relationship CD to see if we could take some value from it as we drove home. Despite her initial resistance, she agreed to it. Probably just to shut me up.

    And as per usual, Tony talked a lot of sense, and helped us start some deep and meaningful conversations about how we truly feel about each other and what we want from a relationship.

    I’m a big believer in regularly reviewing processes – that includes finances, relationships, happiness or whatever really.

    Thank you for the book recommendation, I’ll be sure to add it to my list. (BTW – the link isn’t working).

    Speak soon

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. Totally agree with everything you say. It’s hard to focus on what really matters sometimes, doing things from a to-do list or our goals gives a small sense of achievement, sometimes a great one, but I find that the getting fades rather quickly. Thus I’m trying to concentrate on these deeper themes and values and live through them – the feeling you get lasts and feels deeper.

      Please can I borrow the Tony Robbins CD?


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