Understanding The Difference Between Values and Goals

Understanding The Difference Between Values and Goals

Understanding The Difference Between Values and Goals

Values and goals are tools you can use daily to help keep yourself pushing forward and leading a meaningful life. People sometimes get these two concepts confused, so our expert on anxiety and marriage counseling, Dr. Phillips, wants us to take a minute to explain the difference and how both can be helpful.


Goals are things you desire to accomplish by a specific point in time. Setting goals is vital for encouraging and maintaining or improving your mental health. Achieving goals allows you to feel good knowing you've done what you set out to accomplish. It can help to set small but concrete goals when stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious so you have a clear plan of action. When you feel overwhelmed, try to make a to-do list of concrete goals that will help you regain a feeling of control. What needs to be done? Are some actions more crucial than others, or do items need to be completed in a specific order? The next stage is to make those smaller goals SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-limited) so you can start checking them off your list. You'll see a host of favorable feelings as you achieve the goals. Some goals are longer-term (like becoming a Doctor), but they suit the same purpose, to give you a sense of direction in a manner that you know when you've made it.

In summary, a goal is something that you can someday accomplish. There is an endpoint or a path to say, "Yes! I did it."


Values, on the other side of the spectrum, have no endpoint. Values are much like the northern star; you can see them and move toward them but never get there. Values are the most important things to you and can help you make determinations throughout your life.

While everybody has values, we aren't always intentional in pinpointing them and applying them in our lives. When people become more clear about their values, they often start identifying decisions that generated emotional despair that contradicts their values.

In summary, values direct you but are not a destination. Instead, they are about prioritizing what is most significant in your life.

Value Driven Goals

By setting values-driven goals, you can have the most vivid sense of purpose and find the most meaning in your life. This involves setting goals in line with your values. For example, if you notice yourself working additional hours all the time but have recognized family as a leading value, you might set a goal to leave work by 5 pm every night for a month. If you cherish helping others, you might set a goal to volunteer one afternoon monthly for the coming year.

Subsequent Steps

If you desire to live a fuller life where you make decisions and set goals that are compatible with your values, consider contacting us today. Our expert on anxiety and marriage counseling, Dr. Phillips, loves to help people get unstuck. In addition, our office will take the time to pair you with the right therapist, specify your personal values, and move forward to achieve goals that will provide you with a sense of purpose and meaning.

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Orlando, Florida 32803
Heather Oller

Heather Oller is the owner and founder of Orlando Thrive Therapy, Coaching, and Counseling. She is a licensed counselor and a family mediator who has over 23 years of dedicated work as a professional in the mental health field. Through her company's mission, she continues to pave the way for future therapists, and their clients, who want a higher quality of life....and who want to thrive, rather than just survive. You can contact Orlando Thrive Therapy at (407) 592-8997 for more information.