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As professionals, it can be easy to get caught up in the pursuit of specific goals and targets, whether it be closing a big deal, achieving a promotion, or hitting a certain income level. However, according to our neuropsychology and evolutionary heritage, when we attain a goal, we experience satiation and emotional plateau. This phenomenon is linked to the hedonic treadmill concept which suggests that in order to maintain positive emotion, we must constantly seek new goals.

The key to finding sustained meaning and happiness in both our professional and personal lives may lie in shifting our focus from specific goals to active values and ideals. Active values, such as honor, courage, kindness and compassion, have a clear essence and can be practiced continuously, unlike one-off goals which have a clear beginning and ending and lead to satiability.

Here are 5 practical tips for incorporating active values into your professional and personal life:

  1. Identify your core values: Take some time to reflect on what values are most important to you and how they align with your professional and personal goals. This will help you to focus on the things that truly matter to you and will bring you the most fulfillment.
  2. Incorporate active values into your daily routine: Make a conscious effort to incorporate your core values into your daily actions and decision-making. For example, if one of your values is compassion, make it a habit to check in with colleagues and ask them how they are doing or if they need any support.
  3. Use active values as a guide for decision-making: When faced with difficult decisions, use your core values as a guide. Ask yourself, “What would a person of integrity do in this situation? How would someone who values kindness respond?”
  4. Prioritize active values over goals: While goals are important, they should not be the sole focus of your professional and personal life. Prioritize active values, such as honor and courage, over specific goals and targets, as these values will bring a sense of sustained meaning and happiness.
  5. Surround yourself with people who share your values: Seek out colleagues and friends who share your core values and ideals. Having a support system of people who understand and share your values will help you to stay true to yourself and find fulfillment in your professional and personal life.

Incorporating active values into your professional and personal life can bring a sense of sustained meaning and happiness that may be elusive through the pursuit of specific goals alone. By identifying and prioritizing core values such as honor, courage, kindness, and compassion, professionals can find fulfillment and satisfaction in their work and in their lives that are not based on satiability but on the clear essence of active values.

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