Values and Goals
February 2, 2020 6:12 PM   Subscribe

What are your favorite exercises for working through your values? And what tools do you use to set and keep track of your goals? I'm trying to figure out what I value and use that to come up with some goals for myself.

I'm looking for some structure around figuring out my values and using those to inform my goal-setting. This is for the purpose of figuring out personal stuff - what I want my life to look like and how to get there.

Values exercises I've tried: taking a huge list of values and trying to pick or narrow down to 10. That was difficult and I'm not sure the characteristics I ended up with were truly the ones I value most. Have also tried a story-based values exercise - thinking of an experience you've had that was meaningful or challenging and what that tells you about what you value. Would be open to more of the latter, a new strategy/tool or however you ended up figuring out your values.

I'm also new to setting and keeping track of goals over a long period of time. That's not something I've been trained in or that comes naturally. I'm particularly interested in structure-y things like worksheets and spreadsheets but also more free-form stuff if that's been helpful to you.

Looking forward to hearing what works for you! Thanks all.
posted by switcheroo to Grab Bag (7 answers total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: These are a couple of MetaFilter comments I liked that are aimed at this question. Both comments contain specific exercises. That said, I'll be watching this thread for answers too.
-This one by Brittanie on seeing choices more clearly
-This one by EmpressCallipygos that starts with envisioning the average day in your perfect life
posted by capricorn at 7:09 PM on February 2, 2020 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Grab you bank account and your calendar. What did you spend your money and your time on? Those are your current values. Our true values are revealed by our actions, not our ideas. Where is the discomfort? What would you change?
As far as goals, try creating systems instead.
posted by SyraCarol at 7:24 PM on February 2, 2020 [12 favorites]

Couple of suggestions:
Write down a list of people you admire, then things they've done that you admire about them, then why you admire that accomplishment. Ie - my chemistry partner, the way she talked about a time she messed up even though she hates messing up, I think I admire her honesty and kindness to herself.

You can also think about groups that you've been a part of that you enjoyed being a part of, what made the group successful to you and is that something you strive to emulate?

Another activity is to write about a time in your life when things felt 'right', what was going on in: your romantic life, your financial life, your hobbies, your family, your professional life, your friendships? While you can't go back in time, thinking about how you were spending energy in different parts of life might give you an idea about what's important.

A lot of private schools, non profits, etc. Have values statements that might be a good spring board. I particularly like the four pillars of outward bound: craftsmanship, compassion, self reliance, and physical/emotional fitness.

Finally, it might be helpful to think about a value as a frame for viewing your past experiences and a guide for planning how to you want to spend your future time, regardless of outcome
posted by ajarbaday at 7:30 PM on February 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Brené Brown has a great exercise on clarifying your values! The beginning part of it does require narrowing down from a list though, which may not work for you since you've tried that before. I figured I would share in case the worksheet is still helpful. Check out page 6 of this PDF.

1. Look at the list of values and select a bunch of values that are meaningful to you.
2. Narrow those values down to 2 or 3 core values that you feel define you.
3. Complete the lamp light worksheet.

Here's a better link for the worksheet.
posted by sweetjane at 7:58 PM on February 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Oh, this is an interesting assessment I like to use. I wrote about it here. I invented it I guess, but I think it is really thought provoking.

Basically, it's a list of brene brown values. But, you have someone else listen to you talk for a while, tell a story. And then they identify from that list of values what they heard you value.
posted by rebent at 8:50 PM on February 2, 2020

I recently did an exercise using the list of values from Brene Brown (the right side of page 6 linked by sweejane above) The instructions were to pick 10 then pick three. What I found helpful was to notice which ones I was most proud of in my children. You may not have kids yet but it might be interesting to look at the list again and ask yourself which values do you most want your (hypothetical) children to learn from you.

Having a top three could help you ask if the question: if these are your values do you need to do more to be living up to them. But for me, in day to day life, there are often so many different values in play that I'm not sure how helpful it is have a list of just three top values.
posted by metahawk at 9:52 PM on February 2, 2020

Ahem, so I hesitate to recommend this because the website is say the least. However, it was part of a class I took a few years ago (introduced with a number of caveats and encouragement to please be patient! Visit little and often until you get a hang of the structure). It's called Project Worldview. Its intent is to help build literacy around worldviews (our own and those of others), and is all about examining our beliefs and values.

They attempt to describe multiple facets of our worldviews and use European playing card suits to categorize them into how the individual interacts with: self, other individuals, groups, and nature.

I'd first link you here to get a sense of it. Next, here is a Top Cards and Discards where, once you're familiar with all of the worldviews, you choose the ones which most resonate with you and most antagonize you. This gives an interesting look at what you most value in terms of both what you embrace and what you distance yourself from.
posted by hannahelastic at 9:39 AM on February 3, 2020

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