Goal Setting And Value Identification Lead To More Meaning and Purpose
Life seems to hurtle by us these days. To keep up with our frantic-paced life, our ever-changing technological society has given us radical tools to work, plan and supposedly become more efficient.
Computers, cell phones, iPhones and pagers are just a few examples of gadgets that keep us connected, sometimes 24/7. Information whizzes by us at a mind-numbing rate from Internet news sites, work computer systems, E-mail at work, E-mail at home, not to mention pagers, to do lists and pop up reminders. All in the name of efficiency. Work demands that we do more in less time and the global village keeps us all connected with instant news. More and more of us are reeling from information overload, feeling exhausted and possibly headed for burn out.
So what can we do to slow down the onslaught on our time and get back to what really matters? Do we continue to plug in to our to do lists on our iPhone and cram as much into each day as possible? Is there any meaning and purpose to our lives? Are we living according to our core values? Have we even the time as a society to reflect on these incredibly important questions?
Meaning and purpose – Who am I?
Finding any type of meaning and purpose requires us to step back from the daily pressures of life and find out what is truly important. It means to detach yourself from your belongings and look a little deeper than the house, car, paycheck or job that you own. Introspection isn’t an easy process. This is the beginning of a spiritual journey, the first key to lasting change. Without taking the time to reflect, we may one day wake up from our busy lives and realize we are living a hollow life. Very simply, ask yourself who you are. Do it now: “Who am I?”
Perhaps you are a father, an adventurer, an entrepreneur, or a musician. Perhaps you are also a philosopher, athlete, programmer, gardener or writer. You may also feel compassion, love, ambition, or any other deep-rooted emotion. Take a few minutes and in one simple sentence describe who you are. Describing who you are is the first step towards finding meaning and purpose. Who you are will also certainly help answer the question of “why am I here.”
Meaning and Purpose – Values.
Now that you know who you are, how do you live up to that statement? Knowing your values is the next step to creating a life filled with meaning and purpose. Knowing and living by your values is all about retaining your personal power. Your values reflect the true you and every time you don’t live by them, or someone takes them away, your personal power diminishes. Sounds like something Superman has doesn’t it? Personal power.
Say, for example, you have a value called control. Control to you means leaving the office at a reasonable hour to see your family. All of a sudden your new boss wants you to stay late every night. By easily giving in to his demands you have now lost some of your personal power. Your values and personal power are very intertwined. Do you spend your time living according to your values? Do you know your values? Do you value freedom, beauty, appreciation, and compassion? Interesting question, isn’t it? And your values will certainly change as you grow. Being a bachelor as opposed to a family man might bring two different sets of values.
Meaning and Purpose – Goals.
OK, so you have your who am I statement, and your core values written out. How do we live up to these, and continue to grow as a human being? With goal setting, of course. Goal setting without knowing who you are, and your values, is like shooting blindly in the dark. There is no target, no direction, just random goals based on the flavour of the month. By knowing who you are and your core values, your goals are always in tune with the true you and a life filled with meaning and purpose.
So, maybe in your who am I statement you have described yourself as a father and an outdoors person with one of your core values being beauty. Maybe a weekly hike in the woods with the family would be a goal. Now you have truly opened the door to what is truly meaningful to you. Having taken the time to reconnect with the true you through these exercises, isn’t goal setting that much easier?
In our North American schools we concentrate almost entirely on academics. But being such complex creatures with an infinite amount of choices, why don’t we spend more time educating ourselves on the three questions that really matter?
Who am I?
What are my core values?
What are my goals?
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