Your Values Are Driving Your Life Choices: Do You Want to Make Your Life Better?

I hope the answer to this question is, “YES!” The bottom line is this; if you want to make your life better, you are the only person who can do it. Because you are the only one who knows what better really means to you. It could mean more happiness, more money, more security, better relationships, more spontaneity, more adventure, doing what you love, you name it. Your world is limited only to your imagination and your drive to make it happen.

I want you to take a few minutes and think about what is really important to you right now and realize that what’s important to you now is driven by how you have stacked your personal values. If your personal values are #1 Professional Success, #2 Financial Independence, #3 Family; then it’s very likely that you will miss an important family occasion instead of missing a work trip or an opportunity to make more money. Conversely, if your #1 value is Family you will likely do everything in your power to make it to that birthday or anniversary, even if it means rearranging your schedule and putting something else on the back burner.

I’m not saying that having success as your #1 value is wrong. If that is how you want your values stacked, and many, many people do, then it’s perfectly fine. What I would like to point out is that many of us grow up learning our values from the role models in our lives, both positive and negative ones. We basically inherit many of our values through our experiences without thinking about which ones are good and which ones are bad, which ones support our goals and objectives and which ones detract from them. Most of us don’t take the time to think about what we want our values hierarchy to look like and we don’t actively choose our own values. We just pick them up along the way in life’s journey.

The good thing is that they are not set in stone. We can, at any time, rearrange our values to support our own life’s goals and objectives. We can simply change the hierarchy of our values to reflect what we want them to be, in order to promote our most important goals and objectives. I did this myself with great success. As an example: When I was young education was not high on my values list, as anyone who knew me back then can attest. Now it’s regularly one of the top five.

Think about your values. What is really important to you? What feelings do you want to experience every day? Many of the values at the top of my hierarchy are arranged to support ones that follow. My top ten values are:

  • Gratefulness and Appreciation – No matter what happens, I’m always very grateful for everyone and everything I have in my life. Wayne Dyer said, “If you aren’t grateful for everything you have then don’t need anything else. Why would you need one more thing to not be grateful for in your life? I feel that being grateful and appreciative is essential in getting the most out of everything else that follows.
  • Love, Warmth and Family – My family means more to me than anything. And I include some of my close friends in my definition of family. I will do anything reasonable and in my power for my family.
  • Health, Fitness and Vitality – Without health, fitness and vitality you cannot pursue life vigorously and passionately. You cannot do the things that you want to do. You simply don’t have the drive and energy to get to the top of that mountain. This one value supports me in the pursuit of all the rest of them.
  • Education, Learning and Intelligence – This one is really important to me and put a lot of my energy into pursuing this. This is my #1 hobby. Some people watch sports, go fishing, go out partying; I spend my time learning new things that I am interested in knowing and developing my mind. If you want to stay in shape physically you exercise your body. If you want to stay in shape intellectually you exercise your mind. A lot of studies show that people who are lifelong learners live longer and fuller lives than those who don’t continue to exercise their minds. “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”  Mahatma Gandhi
  • Achievement, Action, Breaking Through – I love the feeling of knowing that I’m taking action, breaking through barriers, and achieving my goals. With each goal that I achieve, small or big, my drive and resolve to achieve my other goals is strengthened. Leonardo Da Vinci gave us an observation that should be required learning, he said, “It came to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat around and waited for things to happen to them, rather they went out and happened to things.” I challenge each person to go out and happen to the things that matter most to you.
  • Success – The definition of success is different for each of us. To me success is living the values that I have listed here. If I can experience one or more of these values each day, then I feel I have succeeded. Lots of people feel unsuccessful because of the rules they have in order to allow themselves to feel successful. Set the rules up in your favor. Don’t make it impossible for you to experience the feeling of success.
  • Honesty and Integrity – This is an important value for me personally. I like to think I have a high degree of honesty and that my integrity is unshakeable. It’s is important to me that when I tell someone something, they have no reason to doubt me. Not all people hold this value high though. Not long ago, a person I called friend, and even considered him an extension of my family, decided to violate my trust in him by not honoring an agreement we had and essentially stole almost $8,000 from me. I was shocked. As I thought about it, I wondered what would make a person take advantage of a close friend in this way. Then I realized it was his values. To him, money and greed were more important than friendship. To me, honor and integrity were more important so I severed my relationship with him, knowing that I had acted according to my values and he had acted according to his.
  • Adventure and Spontaneity – Tony Robbins theory of the Six Human Needs says that the first two needs are Certainty and Uncertainty. You need certainty to feel secure, but if you feel too secure you get bored. So you need to balance your certainty with uncertainty. The surprises in life that give it spice and make it more interesting. I go out of my way to be spontaneous by taking last minute adventures/vacations to places that my wife and I want to see. Sometimes being spontaneous can be as simple as just saying, “Let’s go out to nice restaurant for dinner, go get ready. I made reservations at six.” Just be sure to keep it in balance. Too much uncertainty can freak some people out.
  • Playfulness, Fun and Happiness – I’m serious about what I do, but I try not to take anything too seriously, including myself. I try to stay in a playful and fun mood as much as possible. I think there are some definite health benefits to being playful and fun. Conversely there are major negative health consequences to being too serious all the time.
  • Contribution and Sharing – If you really want to feel abundant, then contribute to help others. By offering what you have to help others in need, it gives you the feeling that you have enough. In fact, you have so much that you can afford to give some away, be it your time or money. I make donations to my favorite organizations regularly. One of favorite is Make-a-Wish Foundation because they help children with terminal illnesses experience their wishes, wishes they may not otherwise get a chance to experience. I also donate copies of my books to charities like the Wounded Warrior Foundation and occasionally I donate my time and services as a speaker to help charitable organizations.

FOCUS: What is it, how can it help us achieve our goals, and what can we do to better develop our personal ability to focus?

The word “focus” has several definitions. Generally speaking, focus is about two important factors – clarity and concentration. Both of these are immensely important in the process of achieving our goals and making our dreams come true.

Clarity, in this sense, means knowing exactly what you want to achieve. You have to be able to articulate to your mind as clearly and concisely as possible what it is that is important to you, why it is so important, and how you will begin to pursue this objective. This activates a portion of your brain called the Reticular Activating System, or RAS for short. The RAS is the part of your brain that is responsible for attention among other things. By clearly articulating to your RAS what is important to you, it will look for ways, both consciously and unconsciously, to make that your reality. Enlisting the RAS in the pursuit of your goals really increases your chance of successful attainment.

Knowing exactly what you want is not enough. You also have to know what you don’t want. You can achieve a goal and get everything you want, but if you get some things along with it that you really don’t want, you’re going to have some issues.

Concentration, in this sense, means focusing your attention and actions one important goal at a time. Of course you can have more than one goal at a time and most people do have multiple goals – personal, professional, relational, spiritual, financial, health and fitness, etc. But when you are working on one of your goals you should try to focus all of your attention and energy on that specific goal in that moment.

Developing your ability to focus, like anything, simply requires practice. Schedule a time to work on your goals and stick to your schedule. Don’t be so easy to let yourself off the hook. Resolve that you are going to work on your goal for the entire scheduled time. You can set an alert on your phone to alarm when the time is up, that way you will be able to totally immerse yourself in focusing on the NOW. Find a quiet place where you can work uninterrupted. Remove as many distractions as possible – shut of your phones; don’t check your email, Facebook, or Twitter accounts; ask people to leave you alone for the scheduled amount of time.

Now that you know what focus is and how important it is in helping us achieve our goals, it’s time to set some POWER goals. I use the word POWER as an acronym for my goal setting system.

  1. PGoals should be Purposefully and Autonomously Designed. Each one you develop should directly support your overall life plan and be congruent with your life’s purpose in order to move you in the direction of your chosen destiny. For example, part of your life plan should include living a healthy and vigorous life. If it doesn’t already, I encourage you to add this to your plan. Health and fitness should be a top priority for anyone. Part of living a healthy and vigorous life is maintaining an ideal body weight. So, one of your goals should address achieving and maintaining your ideal body weight and composition.

Another important concept directly related to your chances of successfully achieving your goal is autonomy. Autonomy, as it is used here, means that the goal you set is in line with your personal desires and values as opposed to a goal that you set because of social pressures or expectations of what someone else thinks you should do. Studies have shown that the role of autonomy in goal setting is an important factor and impacts greatly on an individual’s ability and desire to achieve their goals. Goals that are set with a high degree of autonomy have a greater success rate. Koestner (2008) points out that recent research indicates that setting goals autonomously leads to individuals exerting more effort, experiencing less conflict, and a greater sense of readiness to change their behavior in an effort to achieve their goals. For example, if you want to achieve your ideal weight because you feel it will make you more attractive, healthier, and more energetic, you are much more likely to achieve your goal. Conversely, if you set a goal to lose weight primarily because of some external force (i.e. your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, or significant other wants you to lose weight) you are much more likely to fail because you were pressured into setting the goal.


  1. OGoals should be Objectively Assessed for attainability and risk. You should evaluate your goals as dispassionately as you can in order to accurately assess its attainability and to identify and consider the risks involved. There is a level of risk involved in everything we do. The task here is not to eliminate risk but to identify and control it. Remember the old adage, the greater the risk the greater the potential reward? That is true but consider the converse of that, the greater the risk the greater the potential loss. If the level of risk seems to be unacceptable but you are still determined to pursue that goal, try reframing it or breaking it down into smaller goals with more manageable risks. Continuing with my previous example, can you attain your ideal body weight and composition? Absolutely! If Jared of Subway fame could do it then so can you. Are there risks involved? Sure, but there are no risks that cannot be identified, assessed, and controlled by you. If necessary get advice from your physician or a nutritional specialist.


  1. WGoals must be Well Defined and Measurable. It is important that you have a clear picture of your goal to include what it is, why it is important, and how you will achieve it. Clarity allows you to articulate to your mind exactly what it is that is important to you. The more clearly you define your goals, the greater your chances of success are. This principle is based on the fact that it’s more difficult to know when you’ve succeeded if you don’t clearly know what you want.

The ability to measure your progress while pursuing a goal is important. This can easily be accomplished by including ways to quantify your progress. I already mentioned achieving your ideal weight. I can add the ability to measure this goal by setting a total pound target. By adding the dimension of time I can divide pounds by months to come up with intermediate targets, which represent reasonable progress that I can readily track. Here’s an example “I will achieve my ideal body weight of 170 pounds by reducing my current body weight by 24 pounds in one year; reducing my weight 2 pounds per month through daily exercise and healthy eating choices.” Now I have a more accurate means to measure my progress, I have set intermediate goals of 2-pounds per month. This extra dimension allows me to accurately track my progress on more frequent terms. It also provides me with an indicator of my progress, which allows me to quickly identify short falls and take corrective action in a timely fashion.

  1. E – It is necessary for your goals to be Emotionally Anchored. This is the fuel that drives you to accomplish your goals. What is your motivation to achieve this goal? Why is this so important to you? You must have compelling reasons for achieving your goals. Making your dreams come true takes effort and it will be difficult at times. You will run into barriers, some seemingly insurmountable. People close to you may not believe in your ability to achieve your dreams and goals. How will you overcome these obstacles? The answer to this lies in emotionally anchoring your goals by associating them with strong reasons why you want to achieve them. You must identify existing reasons or create reasons compelling enough to carry you through the toughest times. The stronger your reasons are the more likely you are to stay the course and follow through on your goals. With strong enough reasons you can accomplish almost anything set your mind to. We will discuss this in depth in the next chapter and follow it up with a practical exercise.


  1. R – It is crucial that goals be Realistically Time-bound. You must develop a timeline for achieving your goals. Developing a realistic timeline is one more way to add measurability to your goals. By setting a suspense date for completing a task you are really articulating to your mind a level of importance that is assigned to that task by you. It’s easy to let yourself off the hook by telling yourself, “I’ll start tomorrow.” Well, like the old saying goes, “Tomorrow never comes.” The time for action is now! By creating a timeline for the achievement of your goals you create pressure and by sticking to your timeline and taking small incremental steps towards the achievement of your goals you create momentum. Sustained momentum replicates the power of compounding interest in that you have daily successes building upon the previous day’s successes. Now that’s power! You have to realistically evaluate your chances of success in the timeframe you have allotted yourself. By utilizing the previous example again, I can say, “My goal of achieving my ideal body weight of 170 pounds by reducing my current body weight by 24 pounds in one year at a rate of 2-pounds per month,” is certainly attainable. Conversely, it would not be reasonable, or as attainable, to set a goal of losing 24 pounds in 1-week or 1-month and being able to keep it off.

So, the next time you want to go after a goal just apply these simple rules and make your goals YOUR REALITY!!


Increasing Your Chances of Success!

How can we increase our chances of success in any endeavor we choose to undertake? One way we can increase our chances of success by being confident that we can overcome obstacles and achieve our goals, whatever those goals may be. We should each possess a high level of confidence in what we plan to do as well as what we do now.

How do we develop a high level of confidence in any area of our life? The best way to develop confidence in any skill is to first become competent in that skill. We become competent in a skill by repetition, doing it over and over and over again. Tony Robbins said, “Repetition is the mother of skill.” That is 100% true and accurate. By repeatedly doing a task, whether it is a physical or mental task, we are exercising and building the muscles required for us to accomplish that task. The theory is simple; the more you do it, the better you become at doing it.

Once we reach a high degree of competence, we become confident that we can successfully perform a skill on a consistent basis. This gives us certainty that we will be successful the next time we perform that task or skill.

The simple belief that you can perform a task successfully and consistently holds incredible power.  One of my favorite quotes is from Henry Ford, who said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Think about the simplicity and power in this simple statement. If you truly believe that you can do something, you have such an advantage over someone who questions their ability, or worse yet, believes that they can’t do it. So, always think and believe you can.

Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself; he also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace. By the right choice and true application of thought, man ascends to the Divine Perfection; by the abuse and wrong application of thought, he descends below the level of the beast. Between these two extremes are all the grades of character, and man is their maker and master.

Of all the beautiful truths pertaining to the soul which have been restored and brought to light in this age, none is more gladdening or fruitful of divine promise and confidence than this – that man is the master of thought, the molder of character, and the maker and shaper of condition, environment, and destiny.

A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all of his thoughts.”(James Allen, 1902).

Believing in Yourself and Creating Your World With Your Thoughts

I have been fortunate to learn, albeit a little later in life than I would have preferred, that a person can literally do or accomplish whatever they put their mind to. People can literally make their dreams come true. It’s just a matter of desire, strategy, and most importantly, taking action. There are some simple distinctions and skills (key concepts), of which I believe most people are unaware, that anyone can use to move any area of their life to the next level. I outline this process in my book, Mind Energy: The Power of ME! I think that if you are honest with yourself, you find that, if you could, you would improve every area of your life. Even if you feel like you have the best personal life, professional life, emotional life, or the best relationship, you still want it be better. So, no matter where you are in your life, you can identify gaps between where you are now and where you want to be. My book is about taking action and closing those gaps. It is my goal to give this information to as many people as I can. I know that some people may not take it seriously, dismissing it as hyperbole, but it’s not. There are people all around us who are struggling to make even small improvements in one area of their life and if they just knew how to do it, they could increase the perceived quality of their life. There are no class, race, sex, or religious barriers when it comes to these principles. This process is the same for a young kid in the inner city or an extreme rural area as it is for an older person who is in a less than fulfilling relationship, or someone who is struggling to muster up the determination it takes to make it through high school or college. What I’m talking about is a universal truth. Make a promise to yourself that you are going to learn these key concepts and put them to work in your life helping yourself and others. Focus your thoughts and TAKE ACTION!