Values vs. Goals

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Whether you believe it or not we are all governed by values. Our values influence how we make decisions and effectively run our lives. Values can be instilled in us or we can choose to adopt them. Our values can change. The important thing to know is that when we have strong values, and positive values, they will be integral to our achieving what we want in this life.

Values are not goals. Goals are targets. Values are the base upon which we run our lives.

Values are how you see the world, what you see as important, what you believe.

Why are we talking about values? Because they form the base for your approach to life! Values are the bedrock of your walking the path of life. They support and drive your purpose.

When coaching clients, one of the actions that we take is to have the client articulate what his or her values are. By writing them down, it is a way to keep our values present in our lives.

Here are a few ways to go about clarifying your values:

1. Imagine you have a day to spend any way you want. What would you do? Some of the answers will give you clarity on what some of your values are.

2. Think about your sense of right and wrong. As you articulate what is right, you will become more clear on your values.

3. Consider what excites you and what motivates you. These will give you clues to values, as well.

4. Ponder about the actions that can add stability to your life. This will open up thought on what those values might be

When you write down your values, it is important to write them in the present tense. As an example, you might write one of your values as "I am financially stable" rather than "I will be financially stable."

A great way to do all this, is to use index cards or sticky notes, because you may find that you will have many things written down. Most likely, they will work their way into natural groupings. Some people like to set a few overriding values, with supporting values.

To use the example above, an overall value could be "I am financially stable". You might have several supporting values to this statement such as, "I pay all my bills before the due date." "I review my insurance annually, " "I save x percent of my income."

Here are some areas where you might wish to state your values:

- family
- education
- morals
- community
- career
- friendships
- health
- finances
- recreation

While this may appear to be making more work than is necessary, it's interesting to see how, by being clear on what your values are, they can influence your actions.

In a personal example, one of my values is "I explore when I travel." On a recent speaking engagement in Oklahoma City, when I arrived at my hotel room, despite the fact that I was tired, I asked how far the Oklahoma Memorial was. When I found out it was only six blocks, I walked there, and was extremely glad that I did. It was a memorial to experience. I doubt that I would have done that, if I had not "lived" this value.

So, I urge you to take a little bit of time to become clear on what your values are. They are already there, most likely you just haven't put them to paper. It's nice to live them, and it's even nicer to pass them on to those who follow you.

Marsha Egan, CPCU, PCC is CEO of The Egan Group, Inc., a Reading, PA based professional coaching firm. She is a certified executive coach and professional speaker, specializing in leadership development and can be reached at or visit

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