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I wrote in my last post about my lessons from 2012 I’ll be taking into 2013, and in the next few weeks I’ll be blogging about some of them in more detail. Beginning today  – with the importance of values over goals.

How often have you read about goal-setting?

It’s a phrase you hear more and more in today’s culture – especially during the New Year period. I’ve recently heard it several times from friends.

I’m sure ‘goal-setting’ works for some people. But for me, all it represents is another opportunity for disappointment. In the past I set goals with the best of intentions, and in the beginning been focussed on achieving them.

But then the romance fades. I get into the disillusionment phase. The goals seem ever larger and more difficult. I begin to realise they were impossible goals (even if they weren’t), and after some resistance (so I can say I did all I could), I give up.

People often say “I’m re-assessing my goals”. But all this phrase means is you’ve failed to achieve the goals you set before, and are lowering your expectations to ensure you meet them.

Which isn’t condusive to great work. And restricts our growth.

We are all capable of great work. All of us have it within us to achieve amazing things, to make a difference in the world.

We were created to be world-changers.

But goal-setting is pointless. All it results in is disappointment. We feel like failures and are liable to give up. No matter how much we achieve, we’ll feel like a failure.

So how can we approach this differently?

How about instead of goal-setting, we focus on value-setting. How about we clarify what we care about, what’s important to us, and make a decision to integrate these values into our regular pattern?

Values can cover a multitude of goals.

And we’re much less likely to feel like failures. (You can tweet that here)

For me, setting values looks a bit like this:

I have a strong value of investing in my writing gift, and stewarding it well. So I try to write and blog on a regular basis. It commits me to reading regularly, and to participate in communities or courses like Tribe Writers. It challenges me to put my work out publicly, and to ask others to guest post for them.

A commitment to the value of stewarding my writing gift has allowed me to grow as a writer, without the pressure goal setting brings. It allows me to be more relaxed about my growth as a writer, but also to take my responsibilities and commitments seriously.

So this year, instead of goal setting, do some value setting.

Sit down and figure out your key values and priorities. Then set out what it would look like realisitically to live those out on a regular basis – without setting specific targets or goals.

This year I’ve decided to make it a value to respect myself more, to take more care of my body, mind and soul. I’ve neglected to do this before and it’s caused me problems in all sorts of areas. But having this as a value means the following:


  1. I will feel a greater commitment to eat healthily, and exercise regularly – without the pressure of having to achieve specific targets.
  2. I will be committed to taking time to read, to feed my mind and get me thinking and engaging with the world, but no pressure to read every single day.
  3. It means a stronger commitment to praying and reading my Bible on a regular basis, without feeling guilty if I go a day or two without doing so.
  4. It will allow me to have days of proper rest, and holidays, without feeling guilty.


My challenge to you in 2013, is to stop setting goals. If you want to grow in a specific area or achieve something, don’t set a goal.

Instead, commit to a value allowing you to grow – but not putting undue pressure on you.

If you want to lose weight, commit to taking care of your body and respecting yourself more. If your desire is to grow in a specific gifting, commit to spending time investing in this gift on a regular basis, without setting specific targets.

Whatever area you wish to grow – and it can be more than one – find a value which covers it, and commit to living this value out. Making it part of your regular pattern.

You’ll find it much easier to live out. You’ll feel much less of a failure.

And you’re much more likely to achieve what you originally wanted to.

Indeed, you might find you achieve more than you ever thought possible.


Do you agree or disagree with me? Why?

Have you set goals before and failed to meet them?

What values do you want to live out in 2013? Share them in the comments below & be accountable!



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Related posts:

6 Lessons from 2012 (and why you need to share your story)

The Importance of Being Encouraging

This is My Truth


Why Life is Like Writing

What Story are You Telling?




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James Prescott

Hi, I’m James. I live near London. I’m a fan of good food, comic-book movies, & books. I love to write, and I coach other writers & creative people. Thank you for being part of my community. read more...

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