in life

Goals Change. Values Are Forever.

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)

Add Your Voice


  1. Matt
    You are wise for your age!!! Most people do not figure this out until much later in life. My hope is that my sons will figure this out earlier than I did ( in my life) and enjoy the moment while still moving passionately forward with their dreams
    Thanks for another uplifting blog!

  2. Thank you for the great post Matt. Values are definitely the reasons why we have the goals that we have. Whether it is something you are working toward, like the freedom that you mentioned, or something that you are working to support family, hobbies and stability.

    There is always value or reasons behind what we want to achieve. That is our motivation and inspiration. Thanks again for the awesome post!

  3. Matt,
    You hit the nail right on the head with this post.
    Yes, we all tend to get so caught up in trying to achieve our goals, in always looking forward, that we tend to neglect the present.
    I believe that family should top the list for most people’s values. Jobs change, bosses change, bad times pass by, but the support & love of family is what gives us the strength to ride out the bad times.
    Here’s to new beginnings, here’s to fully living in the present, here’s to appreciating what we have, here’s to contentment…..goals can come and go

  4. Matt,

    Thank you for sharing your insights. Your generosity is greatly appreciated. Many times they lift my spirits and keep me going, and I am sure I speak for many. This post came at a perfect time since I have been feeling very lost lately and trying to find my way. I think getting reacquainted with my values is a good place to start .


  5. Hey Matt,

    I love this. When we face indecision, it’s usually because we’re not keeping our eyes and hearts focused on our values. We tend to get overwhelmed because we don’t know what action to take next (I’ve had my fair share of this!) The only remedy is to remind yourself of the true, core ‘why’, or simply put – what aligns with your core being. Love, love, love it.


  6. Thank you so much for the wonderful post.

    It’s very easy for me to feel low when goals I had wanted two years ago are not the same today. I don’t know why I get like this, but putting things in perspective has never been a strong suit for me! :)

    After reading this, I have realized that my values haven’t changed all that much! How I get there is up to me. Feeling inspired. THANKS!


  7. Killer post man, reminds me of the quote below. It’s so easy to get caught looking back or forwards that we miss what’s really going on.

    “Man surprised me most about humanity.Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

    ― Dalai Lama XIV