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Defining Personal Values

Picture of Karl Palachuk

Karl W. Palachuk
December 26, 2007

Goal-Setting Part 3

In Part 1 we talked about how goal-setting must be practiced regularly and forever. It is not a one-time task or a short-term project.

In Part 2 we introduced Quiet Time — The First Habit of Success.

Now we begin the actual Goal-Setting Process.

And, roughly speaking, this is the process:
1) Define the values or principles that are important to you.
2) Based on these values, define your vision or mission.
3) Identify the roles you play in your daily life (spouse, parent, employer, employee, etc.).
4) Plan activities in each of these role areas that are consistent with your vision and values.

Here’s the hierarchy:

Values Vision Roles Activities hierarchy

A few cautionary notes about defining your values and vision.

It is extremely important that you identify values that are important to you personally: Not your spouse, not your parents, not what you think the rest of the world wants from you.

It is also important that you do not select your core values based on guilt. You might feel, based on society’s values, that you “should” hold certain values. But this is a dangerous road to go down. When people accept other people’s values, they find themselve pursuing goals that are not necessarily their own.

If you accept core values that are not completely and absolutely your own, then you’ll go through the process headed in the wrong direction and end up with a personal vision statement that’s not your own.

Consider this list of Values: https://relaxfocussucceed.com/Articles/2007122201.htm.

There you’ll find many delightful values that everyone should have. Here are a few examples:
– Accountability
– Commitment
– Fareness
– Honesty
– Modesty
– Professionalism
– Service
– Thoughtfulness
– Warmth

Everyone should have these values, right? Fine. But are these the absolute most important values in your life? Probably not. And if you simply accept these values, then you would build a vision based on values that are not completely comfortable to you.

Now it’s time to use The First Habit of Success — daily quiet time.

Spend some time each morning thinking about your core values.

Start by reviewing the long list and choosing values that are important to you. Don’t be overly picky at first. Just list as many values as you can that are important to you. Think about these every morning during your quiet time.

Then begin to whittle down the list to ten. Then seven. Eventually, get it down to three or four values that you consider to be the absolute core values of your life.

Even then your work isn’t complete. When you have your core values, spend time comparing your core values to every other value on that list (or any list you can find). This process will help you come to the realization that the values you defined are in fact the most important values in your life.

And while I always believe in revisiting the goal-setting process, I believe you’ll find that these core values only change very slowly over time. The reason is simple: Once you’ve defined the absolute core values of your life, any re-evaluation would bring you to the same conclusions.

You should take as much time as it takes to settle on the right values for you. Remember the diagram. Values and principles are the base. After you begin the process of considering which values are core for you, you won’t be able to ignore them. You’ll naturally start thinking about what it means in the “real world” to hold these values.

And that is our next step.

For now, spend your daily quiet time considering the values that are important to you.


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