Most of my clients come to me because they feel stuck.
As a coach, one of the first questions I ask when working with any client is “What’s your story?” Essentially, I’m looking for clues to understand my client’s motivations and potential obstacles to achieving their goals. I’m curious as to what about their life they deem important or unimportant, and the language they use to talk about themselves.
From there, I usually ask them to articulate their values and why they’ve made the choices they’ve made in their life. Most of the time, there is a pause as they reflect. While they may intuitively know their values, it takes them time to articulate. They may have never really put them into words because sharing one’s values often feels intimate and vulnerable.
From my perspective, the key to achieving any goal is to connect the goal to your values. Most people set goals while overlooking the underlying reason for the goal. Yet, in my experience, if they don’t know the fundamental “why” behind the goal and the underlying value that it relates to, they’re going to have trouble achieving their long term goals. They’ll stop and start, get frustrated, feel anxious or confused and give up.
Whether coaching or leading a weekend intensive, one of the most effective goal-setting exercises I’ve witnessed is having people partner up to share their values. It allows for an opportunity to find common ground in ways that many do not in their professional lives. These discussions lead to true connections with others. It melts through egos and allows people the opportunity to understand themselves better. This in turn, frees up energy to focus on what’s important in their lives.
Often I find that clients get off track or stuck because their pursuits are at odds in some way with their values. They haven’t been clear or truthful with themselves as to the why behind their pursuits. They know what they’d like to achieve and focus on playing “the game” or concentrate on “should’s” rather than what excites them or motivates them.
We’ve all experienced the new year’s resolution that begins with a bang and then feel the momentum wane as the complexities of life interfere. Without connecting to the “why,” implementing change and staying motivated achieve your goals over the long term can be challenging. Understanding what we value and why is the important piece for implementing and sustaining the energy and focus needed to achieve any goal.
Since values are so important in goal setting, I’d like to share a tool I use with my clients. The Life Values Inventory is a free assessment that I began using with clients as a way to better understand their values. The inventory focuses on 14 different values that have been paired down from over 200. It is intended that these 14 values will serve as a way to provide an initial framework to further explore and identify values that are important to you.
Once you’ve identified your values, then write down your goals. The powerful combination of values and goal setting will provide you with the underlying drive to move projects forward leading to change and achievement.