How to Define Your Personal Values, Vision and Goals

Every successful company has a list of values, vision and goals — although some “mean” them more than others. What I mean, is that sometimes they are empty phrases so that they have an answer if someone asks, “What are your company values?” Other companies, really try to integrate their values, make decisions with their vision in mind, and set goals which will help them in their vision. If these 3 definitions are important for a company, then they are crucial for an individual. Without values, vision and goals, individuals float around life with out anything _real_ to base their decisions on, and without working towards anything in particular.

1) Discover Your Values

A good first step in uncovering values, is the “eulogy” exercise. Sleep on it, and then don’t spend more than three minutes jotting down a eulogy that you hope is said one day (many years from now) at your funeral. Who would say it? What do you hope they would say about you? Now, go back and read it and see what the central themes are. It is likely that these are your values.

2) Pare them Down to Core Values

Most people can come up with a ton of things that they value, but it is impossible to focus on all of them at once. Pick about three core values which are most important to you and non-negotiable.

3) Integrate your Values into your Vision

There are two elements of a vision: envisioned future and core ideology. The latter outlines your core value and what you see as the primary purpose of your existence. The envisioned future has a 10-30 year goal with a vivid description which describes what achieving that goal will be like.

Your vision should deal with your place in the world and the effects from your actions. It should take your values and place them into context of what you want to do with them, where you want to be in life, and how you want to effect those around you.

4) Defining your Goals

Goals should be attainable and in line with your vision and values. It is good to have staggered goals — some which are easier to attain in a short amount of time, and other bigger, more challenging ones which are in the distance.

5) Checking-In

As you progress through life, you may find that your values change – as you attain goals, you will have new ones. Sometimes you will lose track of your values, vision and goals. In any of these cases, a regular “check-in” will be helpful. Ask yourself questions such as: Have I been living according to these values and this vision? and Am I making progress towards my goals. If the answer is no, then either you have been lazy, or else you might need to reexamine the values, vision and goals that you have set.

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