Last week my friend and client, Emily Bennington, a full-time author and speaker took down the vision board she had in her office and replaced it with a wall of thank you notes from students who had heard her speak. Thank you’s from those who she’d left an impact on. Evidence that she’d made a difference. Validation, just in case she needed a little, that what she’s doing matters.

Most importantly, the act of replacing a vision board – an outline of big goals, aspirations, and audacious dreams, with thank you notes, speaks volumes to what really matters when it comes to excelling professionally and personally.

It shifts the focus from GOALS to VALUES.

It may feel like goals are what really matters. Much of which can be attributed to the way we’ve been brought up. How many times have you been asked the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” – Probably one too many.

We, collectively, live for our “five year plan”. We’re always focused on where we see ourselves going, and so often, forget to recognize where we are and the impact we can and do have today.

And while I agree with my friend Sam that “nothing meaningful happens in 30 days” – I also believe it’s a disservice to sacrafice the now in favor of the future. To look toward the horizon and fail to maximize the moment. This moment.

Goals are important. They provide you with a sense of direction and a sense of purpose. But goals change. They’re a blessing in that they keep you motivated and focused, but a curse in that they rarely leave you feeling fully satisfied.

I may want to run a marathon in under 4 hours (my new goal), but what really matters – why I started running – why I’ve already run two marathons this year – is that running has exponentially improved my health and confidence. Physical well-being is a hugely important value to me.

I may want to earn $1 million in revenues at Proof by 2015 – but what really matters – why I started a business – is that it allows me the freedom to work with who I want, when I want, from where I want to work. It gives me options. It gives me control. This freedom entrepreneurship allows is a hugely important value to me.

If I focus on nothing by my speed and the money I make, I’ll never be satisfied or content. The goal will change. I’ll always want to run faster and take more to the bank – and I’ll drive myself insane somehow finding a way to convince myself that I’m failing. That I can be doing more.

But when a client goes out of their way to tell me with confidence that I’m great at what I do – When my wife and my family is there to hug and high five me at the finish line of a marathon – at the end end of the day, it’s the only validation I need.

Because when you focus on values – what matters most – WHY you do what you do – You’ll realize that you’ve already succeeded.

Today I encourage you to shift your focus from goals to values. Write your values down. Family, health, freedom – whatever really matters to you. And if you feel lost. If you feel like you can’t possibly do enough to keep up. If you aren’t sure which path to pursue, use those values to provide clarity and drive your decisions.

Because goals change, but values are forever.

(Photo credit)

About Matt Cheuvront

I empower folks to do the work they want to do and live the life they want to live. I also watch entirely too much Saved by the Bell, run marathons, and drink plenty of craft beer. Check out the work my company is doing at Proof Branding.