Values VS Goals: Which is Better to Pursue?

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Values and Goals are two simple, but powerful, words that should be carefully understood. Many people don’t know the difference between the two… and I can’t blame them.

As I write this post, I wonder whether one can truly live a successful life by focusing on only goals or only values? But before you think of your answer, let’s first be sure of the exact definition of both terms.

In this post, we will look at values vs. goals in an attempt to guide you to understand which one is worth pursuing when it comes to what you want from life.

A Definition of Values and Goals

Values are fundamental and essential beliefs that motivate or guide actions or attitudes. They assist you in deciding what is important to you.

Values define the personal qualities that you choose to guide your actions, the kind of person you would like to be, how you treat yourself and others, and your relationship with the world around you. They provide the general guidelines for behavior.

Goals are desired results or concepts of the future that a person imagines, plans, and devotes to achieving. They represent the decisions and commitments you make to getting what you want. They may also help you drop some bad habits, and embrace new  ones that improve your overall quality of life.

Goals help you stay focused while determining what you want. They also keep us inspired and driven, leaving us in a perpetual state of action… rather than inaction.

Goals can help you make the most of this life when conceived and chased well.

Values vs Goals: Differences Explained

The differences between values and goals are significant. Values are aspiring qualities that you would like to express. They offer a deep sense of eternal direction and add meaning to your life. A value is not an end in itself, but a means to a specific end. For example, if you nurture your self-confidence, a day will never come when your self-confidence has no value in life.

On the other hand, goals are things we hope to achieve within a given time. A goal is not a means to an end, but an end in itself. This is because they are measurable, specific, attainable, and time-bound. Some examples of smart goal setting could be getting a dream job, advancing your education, getting a promotion or receiving an award. 

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A goal is not a means to an end, but an end in itself.

To achieve your goals, values also have to come into play. Goals without values are like high stairs without rails… you will be anxious, depressed and the mission is more likely to fail.

Goals that flow from values are intrinsically more meaningful and more likely to be achieved than outcome goals that focus on the results, without considering the process and associated behaviors.

Being clear about your values helps you define what you stand for and your mission in life.

Values Pros and Cons

Determining a set of values has its benefits and its downsides.

Pros of Values

  • Increased Confidence

Values increase your confidence level since they create a sense of stability in your life. With values, you know what you want. Therefore, what other people want doesn’t matter to you

When you identify what is fulfilling for you, it doesn’t matter what is necessary to others. This will naturally create a sense of self-confidence in your life.

  • Values Help in Decision-Making

Sometimes, you find yourself in a situation where you need to make a concrete decision. Values can assist you in making the right one.  You can come to a more sober, less emotionally-affected conclusion even under challenging situations. 

You can use values to decide or reflect on problems, for instance, if you feel like you need to apologize for something. They are the guiding principle for behavior, a beneficial tool!

  • Values help to clear the clutter

Many people are being consumed with so much baggage these days. Values help to remove the excess baggage in your life. 

You will get rid of the things you don’t want, require or believe are essential. Clear the energy and time-wasting stuff out of your life with valuable values!

  • Values Help You Find Purpose

Many people have never figured out the purpose of life. Your values can help to answer the broad question, “What is my purpose in life?”

You should first know the importance of life before knowing what you want in life.

You get that much closer to an answer if you know what you value.

  • Values Influence Your Outcomes

Understanding yourself is very important. However, what can you do with self-knowledge?

Understanding yourself and prioritizing those things you value in life will help you focus on your strengths.

Your path to reinvention is through change. Therefore, you can control your outcomes when you understand how to accept change.

This kind of change begins by changing your behaviors and approaches to life. But it is only possible when you know your values.

Cons of Values

  • Too Much Pressure

Values can result in too much pressure. After identifying the values you want to possess, you must live and breathe them. Otherwise, they will lose credibility.

You should be prepared to lose friends if they are unwilling to walk in a values-led way.

  • Some Values Can Be Bad

Wrong values are non-constructive, non-factual, and out of your control.

For instance, being famous can be bad value since it is based on what other people think of you, which you can’t control.

When you rank your wealth or success above deeper values that impact others – such as ethics, honesty and compassion – you run the risk of becoming too proud, arrogant, and shallow.

When you have wrong values, you give attention to things that don’t matter. But unfortunately, these things lead to complex or hard-to-solve problems.

  • Some Values are Unhealthy

Unhealthy values promote superstition and are socially destructive and difficult to control. In most cases, these values are not helpful or fact-based.

They can be outwardly driven. People are wrong about things often, if not always. If you refuse to admit a wrong, you won’t learn from them. 

Therefore, it is better to avoid ignorance and provide room for growth. 

Pros of Goals

Goals plan to attain something. They have some purpose in your personal and career settings. In addition, they have a particular time frame for accomplishment.

  • Goals Give Focus and Direction

A process goal helps you focus and have a clear direction of where you want to go and how you do it. With such, you precisely know what you require to get where you want.

For example, if your goal is to shed some weight, you know you should stop eating junk food and exercise a lot. Your goals will dictate your actions.

The problem is that you must be clear about your goals. There is a saying, “Vague goals produce vague results.”

The majority of the people have vague and undefined goals. As a result, they fail to have a great plan to help them achieve their goals.

  • Goals Can Make You More Productive

When you set goals, you become more productive because they keep reminding you of what you want. They can trigger action, making you productive even in both life and business.

With goals, you work on areas and things you want instead of whatever comes your way. As a result, goals drive you to become more productive.

  • Gives You Motivation

When you set goals, the eagerness to achieve them keeps you going.

If you set goals that encompass your passion, you will be automatically drawn toward them. With this, success will be inevitable.

Cons of Goals

  • Goals Can Kill Your Creativity

Setting goals can kill your creativity because you are focused on an outcome. This is more so if you follow outcome goals, rather than process goals. If you have a specific goal, you may limit the creativity of your mind to the achievement of that goal. This way, you may ignore other valuable practices.

  • Goals Can Make You Stressed and Pressured

Even though your goals can motivate you, they can sometimes pressure and stress you.

Yes, this depends on the kind of goals you have set. If you have set goals that are very hard to achieve, you will feel stressed and pressured if you feel you’re running out of time.

The stress and pressure will force you to postpone and abandon your goals.

  • Some Goals Are Often Wrong

Setting wrong goals is one of the gravest mistakes that most people make. Wrong goals result in negative outcomes, a big drawback in goal setting.

People sometimes get influenced by their surroundings and those around them. For example, if you see someone buy a new house or car, you want it also.

You will sometimes find yourself chasing the wrong things because of comparing yourself with others.

To Sum Up the Pros and Cons…

Below is a simple infographic summing up the advantages and disadvantages of both goals and values. This comparison will help you identify where to focus on most and make an informed decision.

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How to Decide Between Values or Goals

From the pros and cons of values vs goals, it’s evident that focusing on values instead of goals can be a key to creating a more fulfilling life.

If you focus only on goals, you live an achievement-driven life. Although this life can appear awesome on the outside, it leaves you feeling somewhat void on the inside.

If you change your focus to include your values, you begin living a more meaning-driven life.

While chasing your goal ideas, you may feel nervous about achieving them, making your journey miserable.

Therefore, even if you get excited after finally reaching your destination, you arrive exhausted, stressed, and lonely.

When you try to instill values into your process, you will find meaning in the process. This is especially important, since sometimes you don’t accomplish the goal.

If you haven’t moved towards your goal in a values-based way, failure will come next.

However, if you have realized your values on the journey, even if you don’t achieve what you want, you will feel good about your engagement in the process.

You will also have positive experiences along the way.

Focus on values if:

  • You put a lot of importance on honesty.
  • You have certain things in life that you value and prioritize.
  • You always believe in saying what you think and not holding back.
  • You have a more incredible determination that is not associated with position or wealth.

Focus on goals if:

  • You want to take part in activities that satisfy you personally.
  • You want your success (like a new phone, new car, a new house) to be seen by people.
  • You love getting great compliments from your colleagues, family, and friends,
  • You are an enthusiastic person who doesn’t require to be encouraged by other people.

Final Thoughts on Values vs Goals

It would be best to stop putting too much focus on your goals. Instead, change your direction to your values.

Your values are like your guiding principle of how you want to live your life, how you want to show up, and how you want to be remembered. They quite often act as your good compass and assist in making decisions. In addition, they enable you to decide where, how and who you invest and spend your time with.

Goals that align with personal core values will often result in a successful, admirable, and fulfilled life. If you want to know some core values that will guide you towards the achievement of your goals, read our article on 100 core personal values to live by as you navigate through your journey to success. Then for added inspiration, read our collection core values quotes.

Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.

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