Let’s talk for a minute about values. You might have heard the term bandied around by coaches, in self-help books, or even at work. But still a lot of people either aren’t fully clear on what ‘values’ really are, or can’t clearly articulate their own highest values. Knowing your values and living in alignment with them is critical to a life that is happy, meaningful and fulfilling so it’s worth you spending some time on this.
So… what are values?
Simply put, your values are what you consider to be most important – in life, at work, or in relationships. Some examples of one’s core values might be wealth, freedom, faith, adventure, self-discipline, health, equality or family.
Values aren’t goals as they don’t have an end point. Rather, values guide the direction of your life, inform the decisions you make, and ideally will influence your vision and goals because setting a goal that isn’t aligned with your values isn’t going to get much traction.
If I showed you a list of values you’d identify many of them as being important to you because we all consider many things to be important in our lives. The key is being able to drill down and determine the one or two HIGHEST values in your life. It can be challenging to narrow them down like this but there’s a powerful clarity that comes from doing so. This is what you stand for and what you’ll be remembered for. Values are that important. Before I get you to dive into your own values, I want to make a couple of important points:
- There are no right or wrong answers here. Try not to get caught up in what you think your values ‘should’ be.
- Be honest with yourself. If you say that physical health is an important value but your daily behaviour patterns do not include healthful choices, is it because you’re acting out of alignment with your values (trust me, you’ll know that in your gut) or because actually physical health is really not the most important thing to you? Remember – there’s no right or wrong!
So if you’re ready to take some time to explore your own highest values, feel free to download this Values List to give you some inspiration. Take some time with it. Get your top 10. Then narrow down to five. And if possible, get it down even further to two (or three). And when you’ve taken some time to reflect and decide on what’s most important to you, ask yourself….
- Are the choices I’m making today consistent with my core values?
- When I reflect on how I spend my time, money and energy, am I investing in the things I consider to be most important?
- What might I do differently to ensure that my espoused values (what I say) are aligned with my enacted values (what I do)?
Have fun with it and if you find this exercise challenging, give yourself plenty of time to think and reflect.