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completing goals create goals goals mental skills mental training values Apr 15, 2022

To be more successful at completing your goals, those goals must be connected to your values. Values are the principles or standards that you follow in your life. What do you value most? What are the personal qualities and character strengths you want to cultivate? Goals are something you want to achieve or possess, and as soon as you complete your goal, you go for another one.

For example,

Now, let’s say you need to improve your surfing skills to place five positions better in the ranking, but you also like spending time on the beach or hanging out with your friends. So, the time you spend with friends could be used for longer practices in the ocean. Practicing more also means more pain, muscle soreness, and tiredness. On the other hand, being on the beach with your friends make you feel good. If you value performance and become your best, your values-based behavior will be more practices. Having fun with friends makes you feel good, but not to the point that your values are compromised. Do you prioritize your feelings or your values? Are you the type of person who is always directed to what makes you feel good? If your feelings come first, you will not achieve much because what makes you feel better (your emotions) is not always the best choice. If you lose track of your values, you can jeopardize your goals.

To re-connect, think about what really matters to you, think about the person you want to become, define your values (e.g., to practice and improve your skills continuously), and describe the behaviors that align with your values (e.g., giving full effort to improve every day, respecting opponents, and having a positive attitude). Now bring those behaviors to the everyday situation in relationships, work, and sports. The next step is to set your outcome goals (e.g., place five positions better). Performance goal (e.g., practice ten more hours a week). Process goal (e.g., limit my time hanging out on the beach to ten minutes daily).

Maybe your goal is to save money to pay for a surf trip. You value being adventurous, actively exploring stimulating experiences, traveling, connecting with another culture, and learning other languages. The behaviors that translate those values are welcoming tourists into your country, educating yourself about different cultures, and practicing a foreign language whenever you see a tourist. The outcome goal is one international surf trip. The performance goal is to save 300 dollars a month during the year. Process goals are to cook dinner at home, go to your favorite restaurant only once a week, and replace the coffee at your favorite coffee shop with free coffee at work.

All are planned, but unexpected things can happen. If you face difficulties such as an injury or an unpredicted expense, your values will give you extra energy and motivation to keep moving forward; your values will guide your actions on an ongoing basis, even if you are months or years from completing your goals. In contrast, your goals tell you what to do now; goals give you the plan to achieve what you want. Goals will be completed and removed from the list; values will guide your life.

Always remember that we cannot have everything we want, and sometimes we need to give up on something to get other things, such as surfing less to complete a college degree or giving up on the next surf trip to buy a better car for your family. Living by your values will bring you satisfaction and fulfillment even if you do not achieve your goals.

Goal setting is one of the most studied mental skills, and researchers found that goal setting enhances performance, but there are some guidelines to follow. 


Harris, R. (2009). ACT made simple: an easy-to-read primer on acceptance and commitment therapy. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

O’Connor, E. (2016). The Great Courses (Producer). How values and goals drive performance [DVD]. Available from https://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/the-psychology-of-performance-how-to-be-your-best-in-life.html

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