Our desires and ultimately the goals we set for ourselves reflect what we value. Have you done a current goal inventory? This is a great way to discover what your core values are. It is important to truly understand what our needs (values) are, in order to have a sense of meaning for our life. When our life has meaning, then we have a purpose, which can be powerful energy to keep us moving forward.
Often, our goals and values change as we get older and as our life circumstances evolve. Often a common goal of being happy, making more money, having a bigger and better house or car; thinking that once we attain these new things, then we will be happy. Very often though, we attain that new object of our desire and the happiness is fleeting.
There is good movie on Netflix now called “happiness”. In the documentary, Author and psychology professor, Tim Kasser gives a wonderful description of intrinsic and extrinsic values. Intrinsic values are for personal growth, healthy personal relationships and helping the world be a better place. Where extrinsic values are for material possessions, status, and self-image. These two sets of values are essentially at odds and his research has shown that people more focused on the extrinsic values tend to show more signs of depression, anxiety, and personal ills.
“The more that people care about materialistic goals, the lower their personal well-being. For example, people whose value/goal system is more focused on money, image and status report lower happiness and life satisfaction, more depression and anxiety, and a variety of other personal ills. Second, the more that people care about materialistic goals, the less pro-socially they tend to behave. For example, materialistic goals are associated with being less empathic and cooperative, and more manipulative and competitive. Third, the more that people care about materialistic goals, the less they care about ecological sustainability and the more their lifestyles tend to have a damaging effect on the planet.”
Finding balance between intrinsic and extrinsic goals is key. We are very much conditioned and taught to strive for extrinsic goals but this is proving to be the very reason people are unhappy, and why the planet is becoming more threatened by the very lifestyles that extrinsic goals promote.
After creating your goals for year see where you can bring in more intrinsic values. This is what the great teachers have taught will lead us to a life of fufillment.
“Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.”