When’s the last time you stopped to think about your values?
Values are the beliefs, ideas, ideals and characteristics that are uniquely important to us. They are your ‘non-negotiables’ and personal decision-making tools that are sometimes so ingrained in our minds and hearts that we don’t even realise how they impact our perception or behaviour. For many of us, our core values exist in our subconscious. That is why most of us aren’t spending Sunday-Funday talking about personal values. But maybe we should, given that our perceptions, emotions, decisions and behaviour are usually based on what we believe.
Most of us are so caught up in the whirlwind of life that we take for granted the people or things that matter to us most. As a result, we seldom take a pause to evaluate our lives and whether our priorities are reflected in where we spend the most time, energy and effort. Living a values-driven life is about bringing our subconscious thoughts, beliefs and emotions to the surface - in order to be more conscious, deliberate and resolute in everyday interactions, situations and experiences.
Values are not stagnant; they are shaped by how we evolve, experience and understand the world. The question becomes: How do we bring our core values to light? At times of change and transition, how do we stay grounded in our values and true to ourselves?
A good first step is to define 5 or 6 key areas in your life right now. To illustrate, here are two different examples:
Example 1: Relationship (Fiance), Work/Career, Fitness, Friends, Travel
Example 2: Parenting, Spirituality, Nutrition, Family, Learning/Education, Community
For each of the key Life Areas you’ve defined, think of ONE WORD to describe why it’s so important to you. Think about qualities, characteristics or how each aspect of your life makes you feel. Another way is to consider your ‘non-negotiables’ in each area for more insight to what you believe. Try digging beyond the surface of the first words you come up with in order to uncover what is at the core. This may take several iterations, but don’t over think it! Write down whatever comes to mind now and move on to something else. Revisit what you wrote a day or two later and see how you feel. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to define your values; what matters is that they are meaningful and important to YOU.
When we peel back the layers of what we think we know, we often come to discover who we truly are.
Once you have clarity about your personal values, it become easier to assess how your life measures up to YOUR standards. With a little reflection, you can quickly gauge whether your values are showing up in key aspects of your life, how well you are living and contributing those values in different situations, and where there may be room for improvement.
Here are some questions to consider as you further reflect on your personal values:
Do I derive and contribute my values in every interaction, situation or experience in Life/Work?
Am I investing enough time and energy toward nurturing the relationships that are important to me?
Are my habits, decisions and behaviours aligned to the beliefs and ideas I hold to be true?
When we take a moment to think about these questions, we begin to recognise the events, situations and relationships that give meaning to our lives. It is a reminder that the pursuit of happiness is not about having more, achieving more, or doing more. It is about looking in and discovering your ‘truth’ - because inner space is the real and final frontier.
Download our FREE Values Review Worksheet to help you take a pulse of your values-driven life.