It’s not every day you can leave the office knowing you have achieved your goals. Let’s face it, some days everything just falls into place and we achieve our goals, and other days it feels like we have just been spinning our wheels, not achieving anything.

If you don’t achieve your goals, does it leave you feeling frustrated? When that happens, it can be because you didn’t have a clear sense of living out your values. Even if you haven’t achieved a goal on a given day, when you know your values, you can still gain a sense of achievement just by knowing you have lived by them.

So what is the difference between goals and values?

In simple terms, a goal is a destination and values are how you get there – the journey. We have all heard the expression that the journey is more important than the destination. I’m suggesting they are both important, but that a destination with no values can leave you feeling empty.

Everyone needs goals

A goal is something you work toward. Once you have achieved a goal, that is it, and you move on to a new goal. For example, a goal could be to gain a promotion or to grow your business. Once these are achieved, you cannot keep working toward them. You need to set new goals.

Goals are important in modern life. We all aspire to achieve things personally and professionally…to create and build our dreams. In my role, I am lucky enough to be asking people about their goals and achievements every day so I can understand the successes and setbacks they have encountered along their career. Those that have been truly satisfied with what they have achieved (their goals), in almost all cases, have also focused on the values they live by (whether they have realised it or not).

Everyone benefits from knowing their values

Your values influence how you live your life. As Russ Harris, author of The Confidence Trap, succinctly puts it, values are the desired qualities of ongoing action…how you want to behave as a human being…the personal qualities and strengths you want to cultivate. Values are ongoing. They are not tasks to be completed. For example, your values might include to inspire and be supportive of those you work with. If you lived this during your day, you are much more likely to go home at night feeling satisfied, even if you haven’t achieved a specific goal.

How do you establish your values?

The most common method is to think about what you really enjoy doing and why, what gives you job satisfaction and when you have been happiest. You then define the things that are important. There are plenty of free resources to help with this. This one from MindTools works through a robust but simple methodology for defining your values:

Values allow you to maintain job satisfaction and feel fulfilled in your life even when you cannot go home every night high-fiving because you have achieved another of your goals. They allow you to gain satisfaction by living in alignment with your purpose.

Goals are ‘easy’ in any role and almost always expected. Values make the journey that much richer. I encourage you to take some time out to reflect on how these play out in your career and life.

Happy recruiting, Ian.