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Goals and Values

Is your life is like a Road Map or an Ordnance Survey (OS) map?

Section of Road Map
Midlands Road Map

A roadmap is all about starting points and destinations.  In other words, getting from A to B.  You’re in Glasgow and you want to go to Birmingham.  You take the M8 onto the M74 and join the M6 around Carlisle.  Stopping for 30 minutes at Westmorland Services you arrive in Birmingham 5 hours and 30 minutes later. Job done.

Section of OS Map
OS Map

An Ordnance Survey map on the other hand has all the detail, the points of interests, mountain and valley contours, rivers, woodland, churchyards, country inns, footpaths and bridal ways.

A road map life measures meaning, purpose and success against the attainment of goals (the destination).  In the above example, this would be getting from Glasgow to Birmingham by road in five and a half hours. It’s striking how much we invest in goals like this, even though we all know that anything can happen along the way. A puncture, a breakdown or worse might mean that it takes 8 or 10 hours or that we never get there at all. 

The OS life, whilst mindful of goals, has a more immediate focus as it moves towards them.  It’s more about paying attention to the detail of the experience and doing what matters even though there are difficulties and challenges along the way.   This life is focussed more on values than goals and it is acting in the service of chosen values, doing the things that are important, that create life’s meaning and purpose not the attainment of end goals.

The road map life has the potential to get snared in a cycle of dissatisfaction and disappointment – you might never get to Birmingham or when you do, it might not be how you imagined it.

I’m reminded of the poet Raymond Carver, who lived 10 years more than expected after being diagnosed with cancer. He said of those 10 years, every day was “pure gravy”. An OS life if ever there was one.

Values and Goals is something that I talk about it my webinar: Cope Better. Feel Better. Live Better.  If you are curious to learn more go to my website for details.


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