It’s easy to have the best intentions when it comes to changing behaviour – but sticking to it can be tough. Research has shown that across individuals, teams and companies, spending time figuring out values helps people establish what their purpose is. This, in turn, gives people meaning and generates wellness.
How do I change my behaviour?
The key is answering the question: “why”? Typically society’s focus on goal orientation is about identifying what needs to change, rather than why.
We might be successful in our goals only to figure out later in life that what we worked so hard for actually ends up feeling hollow and meaningless.
Motivation comes from the question “why”. If we know why we are doing something, we can frequently summon the strength to go through all sorts of difficulty. The next step is to take action based on one’s values.
How do I identify my values?
According to Dr. Russ Harris, a leader in the field of values-based behaviour and mindfulness, values can be thought of as how we want to behave on an ongoing basis, how we want to be remembered, and what qualities we want to bring to our lives and relationships.
What kind of parent do you want to be? What kind of friend? Will you be focused on caring and connection, or adventure and assertiveness?
Values can also be used in intimate relationships and even business. Again, the focus is how we behave and can guide where we invest our time and money and who we choose to spend time with.
- In order to do something you have to feel like it: this is incorrect because if values are clear from the outset, action follows – whether we feel like doing something or not.
- Motivation will be constant once you decide to do something: in actuality, motivation tends to wax and wane, and we must continue to remind ourselves why we are doing something, then recommit.
- If I’m motivated, it should come easily: simply visualising success is not enough to lead to goal attainment. What is more helpful is visualising obstacles in the path and how you might overcome them.
In an area of life, whether we succeed or fail in reaching our goals, we can act according to our values – and therefore act meaningfully. This can lessen the blow of not achieving our goals.
In an ideal world we would be using both values and goals as motivators: values for the big picture and goals to narrow down specific targets.
Harris offers the final word on motivation: “If you want to break any self-defeating habit or any type of behavioural pattern that is destructive to yourself or others, you need some inspiration and you need some motivation; your values will give you both.”