If you're like 60% of Americans, you don’t create New Year's resolutions. Among those who do, 23% abandon them within the first week. If resolutions are working for you, keep it up; there's no one-size-fits-all answer to this. If you’re looking for a new approach for 2024, keep reading.
In 'Atomic Habits', author James Clear talks about the power of shifting from outcome-based goals to identity-based goals. The idea is that once you decide the type of person you want to be (your identity), it becomes easier to move in that direction. Tying your identity to your goals makes it easier for you to follow through and everyone else to support. For example, if you’re giving up alcohol, this shift means moving from saying ‘I’m not having a drink’ (an outcome) to ‘I’m not a drinker’ or ‘I’m a super-healthy person’ (an identity).
One of the simplest way to uncover our own identities is to reflect on our values. Values tell us who we want to be and what we stand for. Yet, how many of us have taken the time to sit down and figure out exactly what those values are? In our experience, not many, and importantly, what are we missing by skipping such a meaningful step?
Values come before goals, before strategy, before tactics, before products, before market choices, before financing, before business plans, before every decision. Values come first, and all else follows—in business, in career, and in life. (Jim Collins)
The Value of Values
Resolutions, like goals, are constantly changing, but not values. Values can evolve, but much more slowly. Values are foundational and enduring. While there isn’t a bad word on our value list, it’s impossible to embody all 72 words. You can’t have 72 priorities, and similarly, you can’t have 72 values. We suggest 4, no more than 5. However, the process of narrowing down your values is one of the most helpful exercises you’ll ever do. You might be surprised by what you discard, what challenges you, and what ultimately remains on your list. Deciding your values is rewarding, but isn't always easy.
Once you have these values, your goals and resolutions can more naturally emerge. You’ll understand simultaneously what direction to avoid and what direction to head. TFM families call values their compass.
Resolutions often falter under pressure due to a lack of foundational support. There's nothing behind the goal. Values, on the other hand, not only withstand pressure but grow stronger the more weight we put on them. I often think of a TFM client, a talented and busy physician. She was coming off a huge medical conference, the practice was over capacity, and she was extremely stressed. A colleague had asked her to speak to a group of medical students the following night, which she wanted to do, but it would have meant missing movie night with her children. Just as she was about to say yes, she remembered her family values, and the word BALANCE hit her like a ton of bricks. Her values gave her the strength to say no, honoring her identity as someone who maintains BALANCE in their life.
Values allow for incremental long-term improvement. If you value HEALTH, exercising 2.5% more than you did last month is a more effective long-term strategy than going to the gym 8 times the first week in January. Values are for people who want to play the long game. To give you a sense of what other families are prioritizing, here are the top values of TFM clients in 2023.
TFM Families in 2023
- Love - Consistently the #1 value of TFM families. Despite a world focused on differences, the love we have for family and those closest to us remains a unifying force.
- Gratitude - More powerful than many realize. Try the grateful flow exercise next time you’re feeling down. If you’re reading this, you have plenty to be grateful for, including everyday things like toilets, everything bagels, and waking up today.
- Faith - TFM is religion-agnostic, but deeply faithful. Our clients' diverse beliefs are a source of comfort and inspiration.
- Health - Gaining new importance post-pandemic, whether it’s medicine 3.0 or social fitness. Notably, ‘Balance’ ranked #7.
- Integrity - Integrity goes beyond honesty; it's about adhering to your values.
- Adventure - As Helen Keller said, "Life is either a great adventure or nothing." The pandemic's restrictions may have fueled a desire for adventure.
It's Never Too Late
Just get started. People over 55 are 3.1 times less likely to have resolutions compared to younger adults, but it's never too late. Choose one value. Spend 10 minutes thinking about your values. Use our list below or sign-up for TFM Essentials and uncover your family values with one of our family coaches. What are you waiting for?