When you’re trying to figure out your goals in life, it is very important that you ignore outside influences, and focus on your core values. Which is why I find it ridiculous how much power you have over your future at times where probably 95% of people either haven’t developed their core values yet, or still have their decisions mostly controlled by outside influences. Like their parents… or what their friends choose to do.
But it’s never too late to break free, to give yourself the opportunity to choose the direction you want to take in life. Jamie mentions examples of people that bravely started to pursue risky goals after the age of 30. And I’m sure there are many examples of people who start after 50 or even 60.
How Do I Find Goals Guided By My Core Values?
A question that brings your core values to light, is: “What things would you change about the world if you had the chance?” Isolate the few that are the most important to you. The next part of the exercise, is considering what’s more important to you, facilitating such change in any way possible, or just enjoying your life as best you can, while also facilitating some positive change through your actions.
To figure that out, you have to ignore every outside influence… from social pressures, your role models, people you think are happier than you, your friends and family.. isolate yourself in your mind. Think about it this way.. if you were completely free to do anything you wanted, pursue it whichever way you wanted, what would you be doing right now? Even if that answer to you is simply exploring the world in search of your purpose, that’s the right answer for you.
Oh and forget about instant gratification and pleasure, eating ice cream while getting a massage doesn’t count as a life goal. Here’s an example of what’s not a relevant choice. At some point in my late teens, I had decided that I was going to devote my life to becoming more of a douchebag, and focus on becoming a smash hit with the ladies. This was motivated by a misguided idea that douchebags are inherently more happy people than I was at the time.. as I managed to befriend a few such people.. I realized that not only were they troubled by many of the same things that I was.. they were also often troubled by the way they chose to act in some situations.
And I also discovered how inherently bad I am at being a douchebag.. not that I am too much of a good person, I am just bad at selectively being a bad person to specific people. Although I have to admit that at times I am overpowered by someone’s looks and treat them slightly differently due to the dopamine high that being in their presence seems to give me. In which case I end up feeling like a piece of shit and a hypocrite, because I feel so strongly about treating people the same… regardless of their looks.
So…that’s an example of letting outside influence guide your decision and have you waste your time and effort. So it’s important that you manage to ignore how you think of other people, and your ideas of what makes people happy in general.. focus entirely on yourself.
Let’s say the answer to the first question is that you would increase equality for LGBT people if you could. What you want to be, is a world travelling singer song writer. You could make that the core message behind your music and just travel the world. Of course there will not always be such an obvious possible correlation between the two areas, but don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Sometimes inspiring change in people can be more powerful than just applying your own efforts.
It’s Easier To Find New Friends, Than Change Your Core Values
This is something that is easy to superficially understand, but hard to completely comprehend and live by. Especially as you grow older and friends are harder to come by. There might be a turning point in your late 60s where the opposite starts to ring true, but unless you’re at that point in your life, stick with your gut.
Also worth remembering, is that after high school, most people won’t judge you if your core values and your goals in life are different from theirs. So keep in mind that even if you choose to tell all your friends about what you’re going to do, many will remain supportive and only those who are incredibly negative should be ignored and possibly cut from your life.
That’s not to say that you should ignore any and all criticism, sometimes friends who are further removed from the situation can make valid points… such as maybe you should save up a little more money before you go on your journey.. and things that can be easy to forget in the heat of the moment.
Core Values Rarely Do, But When They Change..
First I would wait for a few weeks or months just to make sure that you are not momentarily overwhelmed by a combination of outside influences. If you still feel that your values urge you to change your path, do so. If you don’t it was most likely a “phase” caused by a large event in your life. While opposition can sometimes cause your conviction to falter, it is important to understand that it might not be as life altering as it can appear at he moment it happens. Let things subside before you make any final decisions.
And while you can argue that your core values are instilled in you by your parents and community when you’re growing up, I would argue they are a result and directly correlate with who you currently are as a person. Which means that even if that’s how you got them, it doesn’t make them any less valid in your search for meaning and happiness.
I’m not a very altruistic person. I don’t think many of us are at our core. I’m not able to forsake my personal goals and invest the rest of my foreseeable future to start making the difference that I want to see in the world. Instead I have chosen to give one month, and try to inspire as many people as possible to do the same. At Month To Make A Difference you can join me and contribute your experiences from your efforts to inspire the change that you want to see in the world around you.
Miyajima is a small island not too far from Hiroshima, and this picture was taken when my family came to visit me in Japan. Funnily enough, that’s when I did most of my travelling and other touristey stuff. For the most part of my stay, I was just… living there. It had become just another home.. where most people spoke a slightly cooler language and I had trouble reading road-signs, the paper and the bills that I was paying.