Friday, 19 July 2013 11:05

Goal Setting That Works – Aligning Goals and Values

“Begin with the end in mind,” encourages Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.1 When you look at your life, there are so many goals you could pursue. But before you can set meaningful goals for yourself, you need to know where you want to go. If you clearly understand where you want to be, you can make sure your actions bring you closer to that place each and every day.

Corporations spend billions every year on strategic planning. They align their business goals and operations with their mission and values – their core reasons for being in business. Corporations may complete this exercise in-house or engage the services of an external Consultant who has specialized skills in areas like values alignment, cultural and business analysis,  and strategic planning. .

Executives and Small Business Owners  also involve themselves in similar planning sessions with their executive coaches. They examine their strengths and weaknesses with their coach, they look at their career and personal goals, and make strategic decisions about where and how to spend their time and energy.

Some coaches straddle the field of “executive coaching” as well as “life” coaching.. Life coaches do the same thing with individuals. They explore and clarify with you your identity, your values, and your true purpose in life. How can you know what you need to do, where you need to spend your time and energy, if you don’t know what is most important to you? This is difficult and important work. And it is hard to do alone. Taking the time to make personal definitions for yourself will make the process of goal setting and staying on track much easier.

Regardless of whether your goals are to finish a university degree, get a better job, start a business, buy a home, or lose weight, the process is the same. The aspirational goals you set must be consistent with your c ore values and true identity if you want to sustain your motivation over time. 2.

Here are three essential elements you must consider before writing down your goals:

  1.       Examine your identity: Quite simply, who are you? Self-awareness is the cornerstone to emotional intelligence and so important that this one feature will do more for your success in life than any other social competency. If you know yourself well, you can choose a path aligned with your strengths and weaknesses. You will not get distracted by people, places and things that are not congruent with your true self.

How do you improve your self-awareness? Through working with your coach, doing assessments, examining your attitude, your passions, your self-image, examining your assumptions and beliefs and being willing to ask for and receive feedback.

Avoid defining yourself in terms of external things (job titles, education, family roles, etc.) and look at your personal integrity, ethics, and things that are important to you.

There are  a range of behaviour styles, leadership, team, values, wealth creation and personality type assessments available through your coach. Gaining a deeper understanding of your own preferred, natural way of behaving and thinking can greatly improve your understanding of yourself. As a side benefit, it also improves your understanding of others different from yourself. Ask your coach about the assessment tools they offer.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to gain clarity about your identity:

  •     When thinking about myself, what am I most proud of?
  •     How would my friends describe me?
  •     How would my co-workers describe me?
  •     What does my family say about me?
  •     What are the three most important areas in my personal life?
  •     How have I changed over my adult years?
  •     What are my strengths?
  •     What do I avoid or dislike doing?
  1.     Define your values: What are your most fundamental beliefs? Identify three important moral values that are important to you. The more clearly defined your values are, the more energy and focus you will have for your goals. Values provide the basic structure you need to build your personal life, your career, your business and any other aspect of your life.

Consider your attitude towards other people. Think about your current obligations to your community, family and friends. Reflect on the core beliefs you have that you would want to pass on to the younger generation. If you were to mentor someone, what values would you project as being most important in the world?

Here are two exercises to help define your values. Look over the following list of values and rank each from 1 to 10 (with 1 representing values most important to you).  Be sure to add any that are important to you but not on this list.

Values Identification Exercise 1.0

Security Wealth Good health
Relationship with spouse Relationship with children Relationship with family
Fame/recognition Job/career Power
Happiness Friendship Retiremnet
Owning your own business Long life Travel
Respect of peers Spiritual fulfillment Charity
Having fun Sport/fitness Learning/education
Peace/tranquility Influence Integrity/ethics
Artistic expression Community involvement


What are the five values you ranked the highest? Those five values should be receiving 80% of your time and energy. Write down your five most important values on a separate sheet of paper and post them somewhere you will see them every day. This will drive your actions and keep you focused on what is most important.

Values Identification Exercise 2.0

Your highest values are nearly always reflected in how you spend your time. The things highest on your list inspire you to action. The things lowest on your list are where you find yourself procrastinating. 2.

Answer the following questions. Then list your top 3 things in order of importance.

  •     How do you fill the space where you live?
  •     What do you spend your time doing?
  •     What do you spend your money on?
  •     What do you think about and talk about?
  •     Where are you the most disciplined? 3.

 The values you have identified are the foundation of your success. They help you prioritise the goals you set for yourself. Without values clearly defined and prioritised, it is difficult to prioritise goals. This makes it easier to make a choice when commitments compete for your attention.

  1.     Establish your goals: Goal setting is not easy. It is hard work requiring time and thought. It means soul searching. Fear of failure – and fear of success – can stop people from setting clear goals and interferes with the process of actually putting them into writing.

If you have completed steps one and two – you have examined your identity and clarified your values  –  then you have already done the hard work. The goal setting should be a natural extension of your values.

For example, if you value good health, then your goals of eating well and exercising regularly follow naturally. Focus on only three goals at a time, in order to be focused. Break each goal down to two or three components, along with specific, measurable, realistic time-frames..

D Worrall  (2010)


Covey, S (1989 ) The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Simon & Shuster.

Worrall, D (2009) A Climate for Change, Life Success Publishing.

Demartini, J (2002) from Worrall D( 2009)  A Climate for Change, Life Success Publishing..


For more on goal setting, values and SMART goals see A Climate for Change (2009), D Worrall at

For further information on Executive Coaching and Business Consulting for Leaders of Change, contact Di at Worrall Assoc. on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Last modified on Friday, 19 July 2013 11:20

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