• Published August 20, 2023
  • 5 Minute Read

How to Set Achievable Goals (That Align With Your Values)

Published August 20, 2023
Woman contemplating how to set achievable goals and connect her goals and values

Connecting Your Goals and Values: Why & How

Setting goals can help you change and improve, achieve satisfaction, and feel like you’re moving through your life and your career with direction. But it isn’t easy; setting achievable goals takes time and commitment.

3 Tips to Keep in Mind for Setting Achievable Goals

Whether related to your career or your life in general, to set achievable goals (and to increase your chances of success and satisfaction at meeting those aspirations), remember these 3 keys for success.

1. Make sure your goals are aligned with your values.

Too often, people set goals based on their thinking alone. But you’re much more likely to achieve your goals if they align with your feelings and values, too. So bring your heart into the goal-setting process and examine how connected your goals and values are — whether the goals you have set will help you achieve the underlying life principles that you believe are most important. Specific values will be different for everyone, but to lead as authentically as possible, your goals must be values-based. Learn more about understanding your values below.

2. Make sure your goals are specific.

Even if you have values-based goals, they still may be too broad and general to work towards. Avoid a sense of overwhelm and not knowing where to start by recasting your aspirations into the form of a SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Limited). Setting achievable goals starts with breaking your larger objectives into smaller, specific steps that will move you in the right direction towards whatever matters most to you.

3. Make sure you have ample support.

You’re more likely to succeed at your goals if you have someone serving as your coach, cheerleader, or mentor. Ask friends, family, and co-workers for their support and to hold you accountable as you work toward your goals. After setting your goals, revisit them at regular intervals to make sure they’re still aligned with your values and to re-energize your efforts so you stay on track.

Infographic: How to Set Achievable Goals

Setting Achievable Goals That Align With Your Values: 5 Steps

How to Connect Your Goals and Values

Here’s a step-by-step guide to setting attainable goals that align with your values.

1. Take stock of your values.

To connect your goals and values, you first need to know exactly what your values are. If you’re not sure, take some time to build this self-understanding. In many of our programs, we do an exercise with participants to help them figure this out using our Values Explorer™ card deck tool, which helps them reflect on and better understand their personal priorities.

As you explore, examine what matters most to you across 4 facets of your life — career, self, family, and community — and consider how you’re living out your values in each of those areas. (In our Leadership Development Program (LDP)®, we explore this idea with participants and offer them the visual of a “button” connecting these 4 life areas together in holistic leadership.)

You might ask yourself: How do you spend your time and energy? What are you passionate about? What do you need to do more of? What should you cut back on? What’s missing?

Take time to process your thoughts and feelings, and consider any feedback you’ve been given, such your 360 results. Gaining this perspective will give you some ideas about what you might want to change or improve. List 5 things you’d like to do better or differently within a particular facet of your life. Write them down as possible values-based goals for yourself to pursue.

2. Focus.

To make sure you’re setting achievable goals, select just one facet out of the 4 to focus on first, and look at your list of things to work on. Prioritize what’s most important to you, so you ensure you’re living with greater intention, both at work and at home.

Then, actually write down your aspiration, adding enough detail to turn this values-based goal into a SMART goal:

  • Specific: Include as much detail as possible.
  • Measurable: Identify quantitative targets for tracking your progress and results.
  • Attainable: Make sure it’s possible to achieve the desired result.
  • Realistic: Acknowledge the practical requirements necessary to accomplish the goal.
  • Time-Limited: Specify the timeframe, and build in deadlines along the way.

3. Plan.

This is key to ensure you succeed at attaining your goals. Break down your SMART goal into small, specific steps that will move you in the right direction. Begin by listing at least one action to take in the next week. Schedule a time to do it. Then, really do it! This is the key for turning your intentions into reality.

4. Enlist support.

Think about family, friends, or co-workers whom you can inform of your new goal and ask for the different types of support you might need. They can help hold you accountable for making progress. Carefully select whom you tell and when you tell them, so as not to undermine your motivation or progress.

5. Revisit.

Each week or month, set aside time to assess how you’re doing against your goal, keeping a focus on your values. Decide what additional actions you’ll take toward achieving your goal. Reevaluate your priorities and set new milestones as needed.

A Closing Word on Values-Based Goal Setting

Yes, this process takes time. Choosing and planning your goals — and making sure your goals and values are aligned — is hard work. But by spending the time to connect your goals and values, you’ll find greater purpose in leadership and increased satisfaction in your daily personal and professional life.

Ready to Take the Next Step?

Build your team’s capacity for setting achievable goals that align with your organization’s values with a customized learning journey for your leaders using our research-backed modules. Available leadership topics include Accountability, Authenticity, Emotional Intelligence, Influence Skills, Self-Awareness, and more.

  • Published August 20, 2023
  • 5 Minute Read
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Leading Effectively Staff
Leading Effectively Staff

This article was written by our Leading Effectively staff, who analyze our decades of pioneering, expert research and experiences in the field to share content that will help leaders at every level. Subscribe to our emails to get the latest research-based leadership articles and insights sent straight to your inbox.

This article was written by our Leading Effectively staff, who analyze our decades of pioneering, expert research and experiences in the field to share content that will help leaders at every level. Subscribe to our emails to get the latest research-based leadership articles and insights sent straight to your inbox.

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At the Center for Creative Leadership, our drive to create a ripple effect of positive change underpins everything we do. For 50+ years, we've pioneered leadership development solutions for everyone from frontline workers to global CEOs. Consistently ranked among the world's top providers of executive education, our research-based programs and solutions inspire individuals in organizations across the world — including 2/3 of the Fortune 1000 — to ignite remarkable transformations.