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Refresh Your Year: How Values-Based Goals Can Make Next Year Your Best Midlife Year Yet!

Episode 72 | (00:00):
Hey there, friend. Today we are starting a new series called Refresh Your Year. It's designed to help you get focused and get moving on your midlife intentions and goals.

I'm recording this during the first week in December, but this exercise can be done any time of the year, whenever you're ready to make some changes. I did a similar series about this time last year and you really liked it, so I wanted to take you through the steps again so you'll be ready to take the new year by storm.

How does that sound? Does that sound good? Oh my gosh, that gets me so excited. All right, let's go. Let's do this!

Hey there, Easy Ager. If you are not already an Easy Aging® Insider, go to right after this episode and sign up today. 

So the first topic in this series is centered around values. I'm going to tell you what they are, how they're formed, and how they can protect you as you go about living your daily life.

Then I'm going to leave you with an exercise so you can discover what your top values are, and this is going to amp up your goal setting to a much more effective level, especially if you haven't had much luck with goals in the past.

What are values?

Here's one of the best definitions I've heard, and it's by psychologist Barb Markway and Celia Ampel in "The Self Confidence Workbook." They say,

"Values are the principles that give our lives meaning and allow us to persevere through adversity."

So our values give our lives meaning and allow us to persevere when times get tough. Basically, values are like the compass for your life.

They're like the compass that points you in the right direction to ensure that you're living a life that matters to you, a life that fulfills you, a life that brings you joy.

But they're also the compass that reminds you of what's important when things get difficult, when things get confusing. We all have these hard times in our lives, but our values keep us centered and grounded, no matter what else is going on around us.

How are values formed?

The short answer is, values are formed by the people you spend most of your time with. This started with your family. You were brought up with a specific set of values in your family.

Whether you agreed with them or not isn't the issue, but your family had a specific set of values that they lived by. Then went to college, and your values may have shifted a bit.

You were influenced by the new friends you were making, by a new environment you were in, by fellow students, by the professors, or even by the topics that you were studying.

Then you got married and your spouse's values more than likely began to affect your values, and vice versa. If you attend church, your values are influenced by your spiritual beliefs and the people you associate with there.

If you're active in the community, your values are influenced by the people around you in those activities. If you spend a lot of time on social media, your values are influenced by the individuals and the online groups that you hang out with as well.

You see where I'm going with this? Our values are influenced by our culture and by the people we spend the most time with. Fun fact: Our parents knew this and as a parent, I'm sure you knew it too.

In junior high and high school, my mother would constantly ask me, "Michelle, if your friends stuck their heads in the toilet, would you do it too?" She knew, and my dad knew.

As we get older, we know how quickly our friends can influence the way we think. That's why so many personal development gurus say things like, "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with."

The first time I heard this, I said, "Okay, let's see. I'm spending time with this person and this person and...oh my goodness, I need to make some changes." As much as I enjoyed these people, I knew that I just didn't really want to be the average of a couple of these folks.

I made some adjustments to my life when I figured this out. So your values are formed by the people you're around, and your values define you.

How do your values protect you?

Here's an example of how this works. My top values are, in order: peace, authenticity, love and connection, health, and humor and fun. Those are my top five. Because my number one value is peace, I know that living a peaceful life is important to me.

That means I evaluate everything that comes into my life with this in mind. This includes work opportunities, events, goal setting, and even people. Especially people.

I don't gravitate towards people with a lot of drama in their lives. I don't spend time with people who are high-maintenance or negative because these types of people affect my ability to enjoy a peaceful life.

I want to be with people who manage their lives with significantly more serenity and grace. For me, it's all simple and clear, and that's the beauty of knowing what your top values are. Very simple, very easy to figure out.

Here's another example of how knowing your values can protect you. I regularly say, "If it's not fun, I'm not interested." I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who may think I'm flippant or silly, or that I don't take things seriously.

But it's not that. When I say, "If it's not fun, I'm not interested," I say it quite seriously. I say it with great commitment and conviction because humor and fun are part of my top five values.

Knowing this means I can easily choose the activities and opportunities that come up in my life. I don't fret, I don't wring my hands to figure out if I want to do something. If it sounds like fun, I'm in. Simple enough, right?

And this simplicity extends to your goals as well. Values-based goals are unambiguous. They are clear, and they are aligned with who you are.

When you create values-based goals, it makes the process of achievement so much more rewarding. Let me explain:

Health is another one of my top five values and right now, I'm working with a nutritionist to eat as clean as possible. I also work out an average of five times a week. If you're wondering why that's so easy for me, the answer is simple.

It's because health is one of my top values in life and if you value something, you set your time and your energy around it. Let me repeat that one more time for those of you in the back who may not have been paying attention.

If you value something, you set your time and energy around it.

That means you're going to be making time to take care of this value. You're going to be making time to work out or have a peaceful life, or be your authentic self or whatever that value is.

Knowing your values, knowing where that compass is pointing you, helps provide direction for your life. So it's important that your goals and your values align because if they don't, a couple of things can happen.

Either you'll lose interest and you'll give up pretty easily on a goal because it's really not that important, and you'll just naturally start moving in a new direction.

The other option is you'll achieve the goal, but the victory won't be nearly as sweet as you'd like for it to be. I'm raising my hand here saying, "Ooh, ooh, me, me." I can speak from experience on this one. I know for a fact that if your goals are not values-based, they feel hollow.

When I was younger, I watched other people to see what they were doing and what goals they wanted. Then I'd set the goal and I'd go after it. I'd work really hard, and I'd achieve the goal, and the moment I achieved it I went, "Whoa, I really didn't even want this, did I?"

Let me tell you, there's nothing more painful or more disappointing than working that hard at something and finding out when you get there that it was meaningless. It didn't even matter. Ugh, it's not just meaningless. It's absolutely heartbreaking. 

So that's how your values can protect you from going in the wrong direction. I've told you what values are, how they're formed, and how they can protect you. When you align your values with your goals, you are going to make sure you're not running down the wrong path like I used to.

Now it's your turn. Print out this Values List, and use the process of elimination to check off the values that matter most to you. Put it down, then go back to it the next day for a second round. Keep narrowing down that list.

When you're doing this, ask yourself questions like:

  • When am I most content?
  • What refreshes me?
  • When am I living my most real and authentic life?
  • Who brings joy to my life and why?

This "who" question is an interesting one because when you see what you value in your closest friends and family members, you're going to start a seeing a pattern of what you value in your life.

For example, if reliability is important to you, you probably like people who are on time, and you like people who text or call when they're running late.

When you look at the people you get along with best and the qualities they have, more than likely these are qualities that you're going to want in your own life as well. Once again, this is the part where you can take a really good look at the people who you spend most of your time with.

A couple of things to understand about this exercise. First, you're not going to get it done all at once. When I did it, it took me seven rounds of elimination to get really clear on my top values, and I did it over a number of days.

I'd put it down, I'd come back a couple of days later, keep eliminating, keep moving stuff to the top, and deleting the rest of them. This may take you a while and that's good. My seven rounds made me exceptionally clear, and my values haven't changed since.

Second, there's no right or wrong number of how many top values you can have. I knew someone who had 17 top values and when she told me this, I felt myself going, "Wow, that is intense. That makes me so tired."

First of all, there's no way I could remember 17 but you do what's right for you. If you can remember 17 or 20 or whatever, go for it. I knew I couldn't do that, so I just narrowed mine down to 10.

But over the years I've noticed that ones that I depend on the most are really the top three to five values. These are the ones that I use use regularly. So "you do you," and pick the number that's right for you.

Knowing your values helps you understand what matters most to you. When you know that, you can set the goals that are meaningful and you can live a more intentional, fulfilling life. Let me give you a quick recap:

Values are the principles that give our lives meaning and allow us to persevere through adversity.

  • Our values are influenced by the people we spend the most time with in person and online.
  • Knowing your values can protect you because they're your compass, your north star, to make sure you're going in the right direction and you're going after the goals that matter most to you.

When you do this exercise, know a couple of things.

1. It may take you a few rounds of elimination to get the values that matter most to you

2. You can have as many or as few top values as you like. Just make sure they're meaningful and fulfilling for you.

Friend, I do hope you take the time to figure out your top values because these are going to benefit you, not simply in your goal setting but in other parts of your life. So make some time to do that as soon as you can, okay?

Once again, if you are not already an Easy Aging® Insider go to right now and sign up. I'll see you in the next episode and until then, peace, love and blessings to you and yours. Take care. Bye-bye!


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