Self-Knowledge: The Key to Choosing Your Goals
“Experts” talk a lot about accomplishing goals.
They tell you how to maximize your time. They may even tell you how to set goals, but do they help you select goals?
I read their blogs and books and listen to their audios, but the experts simply cannot help you pick the right goals for you. Why will no one help with this crucial aspect of life? Read on.
In this chapter, we look at the importance of self-knowledge and how it enables you to find the right goals for your life. Already, you know that discovering your core values is invaluable self-knowledge. Once you couple that with learning which goals are essential in your life, you have a good start on a fulfilled and happy life. I close this chapter with the question “What is essential in your life?”
There is strong scientific evidence that people who know themselves and how others see them are happier. They make smarter decisions. They have better personal and professional relationships. They raise more mature children. They’re smarter, superior students who choose better careers. They’re more creative, more confident, and better communicators. They’re less aggressive and less likely to lie, cheat, and steal. They’re better performers at work who get more promotions. They’re more effective leaders with more enthusiastic employees. They even lead more profitable companies.
— Dr. Tasha Eurich, Insight, leadership expert, speaker, and author
Fortunately, in the rest of her book Insight, Dr. Eurich reveals that self-awareness is a surprisingly developable skill. Integrating hundreds of studies with her own research and work in the Fortune 500 world, she shows us what it really takes to better understand ourselves on the inside.
If you’ve read this far, you now know how to increase your self-awareness: you start by discovering your ten to twenty internal core values. This is who you are. (Isn’t it amazing how many different writers and philosophers all make this same or similar point?)
The origin of “know thyself” has been attributed to many philosophers, even before Socrates, who expounded on this by saying, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” The saying was further used by Aeschylus, Plato, Thomas Hobbes, Alexander Pope, Benjamin Franklin, Jean-Jacques Rosseau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Samuel Coleridge. So, if we decide to use this same philosophy, we’re in good company.
I can’t think of a better way to know thyself or increase your self-awareness than by discovering your core values and applying them to every part of your life: your goals, your decisions, and your actions.
Remember: You Will Save Much Time and Effort by First Understanding Your Core Values
Before we dive into selecting your essential goals, I’d like to review just how much time starting with your core values really saves.
Before aligning your goals with your core values, let’s assume all of your thousands of goals, decisions, and actions are spread among the entire list of values. I have identified over 400 personal values, but the average person only has ten to twenty of those. That’s a maximum of 5 percent of all personal values.
So, by focusing on your ten to twenty core values, you would be eliminating most values, goals, decisions, and actions from your life. That also means you would eliminate most of the blogs, books, articles, and podcasts, too.
As you eliminate most of the clutter, your life becomes simpler. Decisions are easier to make. You spend much less time and effort on decisions, and you become far more satisfied with how you spend your time.
This sounds obvious, but so many people ignore it. They keep writing about how you can accomplish goals (without telling you how to choose them), which productivity hacks to use, how to build productive habits, which books and blogs to read, which podcasts to listen to, etc.
That advice may not be helpful, or it may be irrelevant, depending on your core values. You will not reach fulfillment or happiness by getting up early, taking cold showers, setting habits, reading and studying, meditating, giving gratitude, or getting mentors. You will find happiness by accomplishing goals that align with your core values.
Many of those productivity hacks will not work for you because the experts leave out a key ingredient: the selection of goals that are consistent with your core values. The experts assume you know your goals (or how to find them).
Yes — I use many of those productivity hacks and suggestions, but they did little good for me before I took the key step:
Carefully selecting my goals.
“Cheshire Cat,” asked Alice, “would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” “That depends a good deal on where you want to go,” said the Cat. “I don’t much care where,” said Alice. “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
— Lewis Carroll
In my next blog, I discuss starting with the essentials when planning your goals.
This is the nineteenth blog on this subject. Each blog can stand alone or can be viewed as a comprehensive look on the why and how finding and living by your core values can change your life. Dramatically!
If you want to read my other core values blogs: https://medium.com/the-innovation/your-core-values/home.
As a reminder, the actual step-by-step process of how you can discover your core values will only be covered in chapter 2 of my book, published January 12, 2021 — A Fool’s Errand: Why Your Goals are Falling Short and What You Can Do About It.
If you’d like me to email you the first chapter, please add your email here: https://mailchi.mp/592c9a435a29/a-fools-errand. (Until then, I promise to share with you the power of core values via blogs taken from my book 2–3 times per week.)
 Eurich, Tasha. Insight: Why We’re Not as Self-Aware as We Think, and How Seeing Ourselves Clearly Helps Us Succeed at Work and in Life. New York: Currency, 2017.
 Plato. The Apology of Socrates.
 Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. London: MacMillan & Co., Limited, 1912.