We often hear about the importance of values. The word gets thrown around in so many different contexts and is so abstract that we tend to not pay much attention to it. Yet, values are real and have a significant impact on our lives! They shape the way we interact with others, how we work, and what choices we make. We might not be aware of it, but our personal values are the strongest drivers in our lives. They shape our personality development and are the biggest motivator for getting out of bed in the morning.
If life doesn’t quite seem to be turning out the way you had hoped in one or more areas, it might be because your values are getting compromised or are not aligned with what you are doing on a daily basis. For example, one of my biggest values is freedom. Yet, my previous career did not allow for that in the way I was craving. Needless to say, I was not happy in my job for years, and I therefore wasn’t able to contribute in the most meaningful way – at work and outside of work. Now that I do what I love and something that fully honours my values, I feel lighter, and every day gives me a sense of achievement and fulfilment. Things are falling into place more easily and life feels effortless.
What motivates most of us – far more than material success or recognition – is our desire to be true to ourselves and live aligned to our personal values. If we have a deep feeling of continuously sacrificing something that is really important for us, we cannot operate at our best. Don’t underestimate the power of values and identifying them for yourself. It will affect your life in every way.
So, what can you do to ensure you are living true to your values?
Firstly, you need to identify what your values really are. There are many lists and tables on the internet that will give you a comprehensive overview of all the types of values. Write down all the words that jump out at you – at least 15-20. Read through your list carefully and circle three to five values that feel most powerful to you.
Secondly, think about what those top values really mean to you. For example, freedom will mean something very different to me than it does to you. Be sure you are clear with what those values entail for you! Write out your own definition for each of them.
Thirdly, look at your current life and recognise where your values might be getting compromised and how that is affecting you. It could be at work, in your family, with friends, or within your environment. How would these circumstances work out differently if they were more aligned to your values?
Finally, find ways to bring bring those values to life. For instance, if love is an important value to you, do something loving for someone else, tell a friend how much you care for them, or spend five minutes in meditation thinking about someone you love.
Keep your core value list close by and refer to it whenever you are facing challenging situations or need to make a decision. Which option for moving forward is more in line with your inner value system? Choose your next steps accordingly, and you are much more likely to find a smooth resolution.