So here we are in 2013. What will it take for you to define this year as successful?
Let’s start by looking back on 2012. What did you achieve? What mistakes did you make? Where do you feel you failed?
Did you get a promotion or an increase in salary? Did you buy something important like a house or a car? Did you fail to get elected to serve as President of the USA?
It can be easy to focus on these external markers of success or failure. But what about your internal yard stick? How much were you the person you want to be? How often were you mindful or generous or brave or loving or …(insert your own values here).
How good were you at noticing the times when you weren’t living your values and then gently adjusting your behaviour so it aligned more closely with who you want to be?
‘Values are your heart’s deepest desires for how you want to behave as a human being. Values are not about what you want to get or achieve; they are about how you want to behave or act on an ongoing basis.’
Russ Harris – The Happiness Trap
Measuring your life by what you achieve isn’t wrong but the research suggests that we over estimate the impact of these events. We think that if we get the good job and nice house we will be happy and so we conscientiously pursue those goals. Sometimes we are so busy striving that we neglect other important aspects of our life, like nurturing our health and our relationships, and we forget who we are and what we want to stand for.
The second way of measuring your life – Did I live my values? Was I the person I want to be? – is both more likely to create richness and meaning and will tend to support you in making those moment to moment choices that determine the direction of your life.
So as you review 2012 and before you set yourself some goals for 2013, spend a few moments revisiting your values. Lundgren’s Bull’s Eye activity is a cool way of doing this.