Ideals vs Values

I read an interesting article today in ultra FITNESS magazine that talked about New Years Resolutions. It was another article that talked about why they don’t work.

Basically, to bastardise summarise his point, he said that we make goals and resolutions based on our ideals, not our values. And things we don’t value, we simply do not do.


An ideal is a ‘wish’ – what we would like to do or become. A value is about who we already are, and about what we already care about.

So, I may have the ideal of eating healthy to lose weight, but really, I value good abundant food that tastes yummy – well I’m fighting an uphill battle with myself, now aren’t I?

But how do we know what we really value? I mean, until our values are challenged, and we need to stand up for them, how do we identify them, especially if our values are misaligned with our ideals?

The author mentioned a lot of soul-searching and a lot of painful honesty, and one really good suggestion:

Imagine that a stranger followed you around for two weeks and recorded what you do. What you do would reflect your values.

For example, if you thought you valued fitness, but only worked out once in those two weeks, you probably don’t.

If you thought you valued punctuality, but you showed up on time or early less than half the time, this may not actually be a thing you value.

I would find it an interesting experiment to identify my values in this way, though, of course, I’m not going to pay anyone to follow me around for two weeks…

But also, I do wonder if it’s such a bad thing to work towards ideals? Or if there might be a way of aligning those goals and ideals with your values?

I may not value fitness for my health and well-being, but I do value appearance or fashion or social status or any other number of things that may help me exercise for the reasons that I value, rather than why I think I should or society suggests I should.

This is a rather quick “food for thought” kind of post, and I’m curious, what do you think about goals and values and ideals?

I'd much rather know what you think... let me know :)

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