Values are the overriding factor that causes congruence or incongruence, causes people to be motivated or not. If you know their values, you have the final key. If you don’t, you may create a powerful behavior that doesn’t last of doesn’t produce its desired end. If it’s in conflict with a person’s values, it will act like a circuit breaker to override them. Values are like the court of last resort. They decide which behaviors work and which don’t, which produce desired states and which produce incongruity.
Just as people have different ideas of what values mean, they have different ways of determining if their values are being fulfilled.
On a personal level, eliciting an evidence procedure is one of the most valuable things you can do to set goals for yourself. Here’s a worthwhile exercise: Take five values that are important to you and figure out your evidence procedure. What has to happen for you to know that your values are being met or fulfilled? Answer it now on another piece of paper. Evaluate whether your evidence procedure helps you or holds you back.
You can control and change your own evidence procedures. The ones we come up with are just mental constructs, nothing more. They should serve us instead of holding us back.
Values change. Sometimes they change radically, but usually they change on an unconscious level. Many of us have evidence procedures that are either self defeating or outdated. When you were in high school, you might have needed multiple romantic involvements to feel attractive. As an adult, you might want to develop more elegant strategies. If you value personal attractiveness but you only feel attractive if your looks rival those of some Hollywood or Bollywood celebrity.
We all know of people who were fixated on an outcome something that symbolized some ultimate value for them. And then, when they reached it, they found if didn’t have meaning at all. Their values had changed, but the evidence procedure had taken on a life of its own. Sometimes people have an evidence procedure that’s not attached to any values at all. They know what they want, but they don’t know why. So when they get it, it turns out to be a mirage something the culture sold them on but they didn’t really desire. The incongruity between values and behaviors is one of the great themes in literature and films ranging from Citizen Kane to The Great Gatsby. You need to develop an ongoing sense of your values and how they’re changing.
Another way to review evidence procedures is to note whether they are accessible at a level that is attainable at a level that is attainable within a reasonable period of tome. Take two high school graduates starting out in life. For one kid, success may mean a stable family, a job that pays $40,000 a year, a $100,000 home, and being physically fit. For another it may mean a great family, a $240,000 a year income, a $2 million home, the body of a triathlete, lots of friends, a professional foot ball team, and a chauffeured Rolls-Royce. Having lofty goals is fine if they work for you.
But just as goals and values change, evidence procedures do, too. People are happier if they also find intermediate goals to shoot for. These provide feedback that you are succeeding, that you can achieve your dreams. Some people might be totally motivated by the goal of a triathlete’s body, the $2 million house, foot ball team, and a Rolls-Royce. Others might first view success as running a 10K race effectively or working out consistently or changing dietary habits or having a beautiful $100,000 home or a loving relationship or family. After creating this outcome, they can set new ones. They could still reach for the more opulent vision, but they might get more satisfaction after achieving the earlier goal.
Another aspect of evidence procedures is specificity. If you place as value on romance, you might say your evidence procedure is to have a good relationship with an attractive and loving woman. That’s reasonable outcome worth pursuing. You may even have a good picture of the looks and personally traits you most want. That’s fine, too. Another may have as an evidence procedure a tempestuous romance with a blond, blue eyed Playboy bunny with a forty-two- inch bust, a Fifth Avenue condo in Manhattan, and a six figure income. Only those exact sub-modalities will satisfy him. There’s nothing wrong with having a target, but there is a great deal of potential for frustration if you link your values to a picture that’s too specific. You are ruling out 99 percent of the people, things, or experienced that could satisfy you. That doesn’t mean you can’t create such results in your life – you can. However, with more flexibility in your evidence procedure, you will more easily fulfill your true desire or values.
There’s a common thread here: the importance of flexibility. Remember that in any context, the system with the most flexibility, with the most choices, will be the most effective. It’s absolutely crucial to remember that values have primacy for us, but we represent their primacy by the evidence procedures we adopt. You can choose a map of the world that’s so circumscribed it almost guarantees frustration. Many of us do that. We say success is precisely this and a good relationship is precisely another thing. But taking all the flexibility out of the system is one of the surest ways to guarantee frustration.