Happy New Year! It’s the start of a new year, and as is customary for most people, many of us are setting goals. Successfully achieving our goals is an essential driver for a leader. Here’s why… 

As Your Leadership Guide, I have the privilege to connect with great leaders. I love working with all leaders, especially emerging leaders, embarking on their leadership journey. 

Recently, I discussed goals for the upcoming year during a conversation with an emerging leader I mentor. Before I could begin my goal-setting protocol, my mentee interrupted me. He was so excited to share that he had anticipated my question, so he had selected five goals to work on during the upcoming year.  

For the next ten minutes, my mentee shared each goal, the rationale for selecting the goal, and the expected outcomes of achieving the goal. It was apparent that my mentee had spent a lot of time developing his goals. 

When he finished, I thanked and congratulated my mentee. I shared how much I appreciated his hard work and thoughtfulness. I then asked if it was okay to follow a protocol I have used before discussing each of his goals. 

Well, my mentee explained, he followed a goal setting template to ensure his goals where SMART. He also identified the required actions, cost, and potential problems. My mentee also created an excel spreadsheet to track his progress. 

I once again thanked and congratulated him. I explained the steps he had taken were a part of the goal-setting protocol; however, his work was not complete. At that point, the joy in his voice began to fade.  

He asked, “what else do I need to do?” I informed him we needed to begin at the beginning. Well, you know what he said next, “beginning, what beginning?” He went on to explain that his goals were in alignment with his vision. 

So I asked him again if we could follow my goal-setting protocol. Reluctantly, he agreed. As we began, I asked him to put his goals aside and trust the process.  

Over the next 40 minutes, we engaged in a back-and-forth conversation without ever mentioning the word goal. As we wrapped up our conversation, I asked my mentee to reflect on his goals over the next few days. Based on our discussion, he should make any adjustments deemed necessary. 

Of course, the next time we spoke, I asked about his goals. Well, he explained that he revised his goals. Why? Because his previous goals were not in alignment with his values. 

So what is the difference between values and goals, and why is it important? Well, our values are the foundation of how we want to live our lives. Whereas goals are the specific actions we take to accomplish something.  

“Goals that flow from values are inherently more meaningful and more likely to be achieved than those picked at random or those selected because you think you should focus on them.”

-Dr. Lori Eisner

When your values and goals are aligned, you will have your compelling “Why” to push you forward. Achieving your goal will be your only measure of success.  

So before you start developing your future goals, remember to begin at the beginning. Aligning your goals with your values is key to success. 

Are your goals aligned with your values? 


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  • Ouch. I’m sure we all have made “goals” that we did not score so well. Filtering a goal through our values is obviously a HUGE benefit. It is now forcing me to look back and reevaluate some goals and really ask the question, “Why don’t I value XYZ…” especially on goals I continue to set before me and continually fail to achieve. Got some soul searching to do after reading this…

  • Hi, what are some of your favorite exercises to help someone discover their values? Thanks!

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    About the author

    Hi, I'm Kim, Your Leadership Guide. I equip aspiring leaders to lead with confidence, emerging leaders to expand their influence, and accomplished leaders to achieve significance!