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Beyond goal setting: Why values are important for clear life direction

By Asha 03 Nov 2019
Female student about to start writing a list on empty notebook.

So it’s that time of semester … assessment marks are back, final assignments are due and exams are around the corner! It can be at this time when you may see yourself closely resemble all or some of the below and wonder what really matters?

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As a USQ Student Support psychologist, some of the common things that I see at this point in the semester are very inventive ways to avoid doing uni work, whether it be video-gaming, social media, cleaning, or alphabetising the book collection. This usually means by the time students get around to doing their uni work, their stress levels are at an all-time high, and they find themselves overwhelmed and sitting in a state of angst … still unable to study.

So, what if I told you there was a way to turn this around? Make this semester different? That at any time, you could tell if what you were doing was ultimately going to lead you down a path of life-fulfilment and satisfaction? Would it be worth your time, or does your bookshelf need re-ordering from tallest to shortest?

Many of us go along, not really sure if what we are doing aligns with what is really important to us. That’s because we live in a society based on goals. Finish high school, graduate from uni, get that dream job, buy a house, have 2.3 children … and a dog. The problem is, we can do all of that and if our actions aren’t tied to what is essential to who we are or who we’d like to be, then our goals can feel quite empty or we can get lost along the way.

To ensure our life has meaning every step of the way, while we are achieving our long-term goals, while we are shaping who we ultimately want to be, then we need to ask ourselves … what are my values? What is truly important to me? What do I want to stand for in the face of this challenge? Who do I want to be as a family member, a friend, a uni student?

Through defining what is important to us, and what qualities we want to bring to our ongoing behaviour, we can more readily tap into the internal sign-posts that let us know if what we are doing, whether it be partying, studying or something in between, is going to give us a sense of meaning and let us achieve our goals.

That way, you won’t be rolling the dice on your future, you’ll be making specific choices on who you want to be and how you want to live.

If you would like to make an appointment to see me to discuss how you can utilise values-guided behaviour and goal-setting to get the most out of your time at USQ, please do so by contacting the Student Health and Wellness Team.

Author profile of Asha