If you’re reading this, you probably want more for yourself. More health. More confidence. A bigger and better life overall. Hell yeah. We love that about you. And after reading our posts on body image and weight, you may be feeling open to a new approach to create that feeling of more, bigger, and better. That’s what today’s post is all about– how to get clear on your values and set effective goals so you can grow powerfully in the direction of your choice.
Today we’re talking about values, especially as they relate to your health and how you care for yourself.
“A better way to think about happiness is… living in accord with your values and in a way that is more open and accepting of your history as it echoes into the present, that’s more self-affirming, self-validating and values-based. The Greeks had a word for it; they called it eudaimonia. And it is something that will empower human lives.”Steven C. Hayes, PhD and expert in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
By bringing awareness to your values, you’re going to get crystal clear on what you want your life to be about, which seriously simplifies everyday decision making. So what are values then?
Vales are chosen life directions
Let’s break this idea from Steven C. Hayes down. Your values are your choice. They are not your judgments or evaluations. Values are inherently whole and perfect. No, not that perfect. This perfect:
2. absolute; complete (used for emphasis). “a perfect stranger”
If you’re doing the work of getting clear on your values and you find yourself thinking that your values aren’t “right,” that’s actually a judgment. So, in that case, there must be some other value– your true value– that underlies that judgment.
Values are also directional, meaning they aren’t an outcome that can be achieved. Let’s say, for example, that family is one of your values. You can’t just “check the box” next to family by having Sunday night dinners together every week for a month. The work of cultivating that loving family is never-ending.
That said, much like directions, living a value-driven life doesn’t mean that the path is always straight. In his book, “Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life,” Hayes illustrates this concept with an awesome metaphor. Let’s say you’re driving west. You may find yourself driving north or south as you’re headed that way, but it doesn’t change or negate your overall trajectory. To return to our earlier example, someone can value a family and still argue with his or her family members. How that argument is carried out, though, will be influenced by that family value.
Think about how this could relate to you and your approach to health. Maybe you did a Whole30 last January, loved it, and promised to eat in a Whole30ish way indefinitely. But when Valentine’s Day rolled around and your boo gifted you a box of chocolates, you were overcome with the urge to eat the whole box. The next day you felt guilty and ashamed. But for some reason, you just couldn’t get back to eating how you were just a few days before. You’re officially “off the wagon.”
But now you’re here, learning all about values. If you’ve done the Whole30 and you follow NF, I’m willing to bet that you value your health. The good thing is that you can be someone who values her health and eats chocolate. And if/when you eat the whole box, you recognize that it’s just a little detour north as you travel west. Shame need not apply. When you’re aware of your values and what that means for you, you can continue to walk on a value-driven path even after you experience detours.
Values aren’t goals
Values and goals are different, but both are important as you’re re-embarking upon your health journey. Unlike values which are ongoing and never really accomplished, goals are things you can obtain while living out your values. Goals are concrete achievable events, situations, or objects. You can “check the box” on a goal. Once you know your values, you can set goals that inch you along your value-driven path.
People often conflate goals and values. Let’s say someone sets a goal to get into grad school, but then she treats it as if it were a value. But after she gets the acceptance letter, the glow of accomplishment dissipates and she suddenly feels directionless and empty. If instead, she recognized her underlying value is self-development, then grad school would simply be one stop along her value-driven path that she’ll continue throughout the rest of her life.
In our Nutritional Freedom programs, we focus on helping our clients create goals that they have the autonomy to achieve. That means focusing on action goals, not outcome goals. Here’s another example to illustrate the difference.
Let’s say you value career development, so you set a goal to get a promotion by next year. This is an outcome-based goal.
You set out and do all the right things. You hit your quarterly targets, you take on new projects, the team you manage is rocking, and your boss gives you a glowing review. You’re ready to receive that promotion on a silver platter. But while you were kicking butt, your company was not. So when your manager recommends you for a promotion, your CEO and HR determined that there simply isn’t room in the budget. You don’t get a promotion, which means you don’t hit your goal. Missing the mark on goals never feels good, and with outcome-based goals there often many external factors at play. This is why we like to focus on thought and behavior goals where you have more autonomy. Once those goals are set, it’s important to visit them regularly and set new ones as appropriate.
We created this worksheet for you to get clear on your values and then set goals accordingly. We hope this helps you begin to craft an approach to your health and your life that is informed by your inner wisdom and fueled from a deep sense of self-respect.