Building Your Dream Life Starts with Defining Your Values

UPDATED: April 2, 2022
PUBLISHED: February 28, 2022
What Is a Values-Based Lifestyle and How Do You Actually Build One?

Growth is a necessary part of life.

We invest money so it will grow. We invest time so things important to us will grow. And we invest in ourselves so we can grow.     

I have found growth works best when you define it around a values-based lifestyle—one that gets you all you desire, including balance.

You can usually determine the direction of growth by the actions you take. Take training a small tree, for example: When it starts out, it is weak; even a light wind could knock it over. To prevent that from happening, you plant it at a good depth and tie it to a stake to give it strength and support. We often forget that we should train ourselves similarly.

A while back, I had a wake-up call that made me realize I could no longer delay my goals. In fact, I realized that if I didn’t make some lifestyle changes, I may never achieve them at all. I’m happy to say, with the help of coaches and mentors, I made it happen. You can, too. 

Let me share with you the stakes you can put in place to support your growth and desires. 

1. Values Definition

Values anchor you. When you are faced with a situation or must make a decision, solid values keep you from becoming uprooted. They give you a basis for how you design each day. 

The first step for me was to define core values—values that had personal meaning. With the help from my coach, I drilled it down to my top five: family, integrity, accountability, time and health. These would drive my daily activity. They would help me get to the lifestyle I desired. 

2. Values-Based Habits  

If an unsupported tree is battered daily from a strong northwest wind, the tree will be permanently bent. It will grow, but in the wrong direction. This is why the stake of consistent habits is important, a reinforcement. 

Good habits create a good life. Bad habits can destroy it. Attach your habits to your values and apply them daily.

3. Values-Based Goals

Instead of setting New Year’s resolutions, ask yourself, How can I grow this year? Consider the areas of life: career, family, health, relationships, spiritual, financial, fun. How do you want to grow in each, and how does that potential growth align with your values? 

  • How will my relationships grow?
  • How will my business grow?
  • How will my team grow?
  • How will my financial assets grow?
  • How will I get healthier? 

The key with goals is to make them specific and measurable. “Someday” is not specific enough. “I should” is a pretty good guarantee that you never will. But if you say, “I will lose 10 pounds this month, and here is how I am going to do it and why it is important to me,” your chances of reaching that goal are quite high.

4. Values-Based Accountability 

Being highly accountable to yourself and others increases the likelihood of you forming good habits, living according to your values and ultimately reaching your goals.

Do you have a solid framework of accountability in your life? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I have established boundaries that help me know when to say yes or no?
  • Do I have a planning system and a way to stay accountable to it?
  • Do I have a trusted coach or mentor who will guide, encourage and commit to helping you stay on track?
  • Do I have a board of advisers to whom I’m accountable in business, even if I am the leader?

Your goal may not be to spend time near the ocean (as mine was). It may be to spend time in the mountains, with your family, pursuing an interest or championing a cause. Maybe you simply want to create a life that has more balance in all the important areas. Or perhaps you want to reach certain career levels in a business without sacrificing the people and values most important to you. 

It sounds like a simple assignment: Define your values and your desired lifestyle. Yet so many people never take the time to do it. They just continue doing what they do, day after day, week after week, year after year. And before they know it, decades have passed.

You will grow, but will you drive these four values-based stakes deep enough to help you grow in the right direction? Do yourself a favor and define your desired lifestyle now. Don’t wait.

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2022 Issue of SUCCESS magazine. Photo by David Herraez Calzada/

Ferguson is an internationally respected certified SUCCESS Coach, speaker, mentor, and author.