Hello lovely readers, pardon my absence on my blog for a while now. I am at that phase of my life where it seems everything is at a standstill but then I still keep trusting God to intervene in due time. I would like to introduce this commonplace word value, and delve deep into how we can acquire values which would shape our vision and make this world a better place for us to live in.
What are values? How can they orient your life, and possibly impart meaning and a sense of purpose?
The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines values as “beliefs about what is right and wrong and what is important in life”. Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work. They determine your priorities, and, deep down, they are probably the measures you use to tell if your life is turning out the way you want it to.
Values are deeply held beliefs that certain qualities are desirable. They define what is right or fundamentally important to each of us. They provide guidelines for our choices and activities.
According to advances in neuroscience, values are neural processes resulting from binding cognitive representations of concepts, goals, and beliefs together with emotional attitudes. The term “values” is shorthand for hinting at complex levels of imagination. It ranges from one’s dreams and their roots in unconscious night processes to more preconscious daydreams and conscious aspirations. Values are potential capital fueled by hope and the motivation to expand and go forward.
Values are something you care about—a lot! Values can “change the world”. Values measure what people feel are desirable, vital, useful, and worthwhile. They influence the direction of how we feel, think, and make choices—perform and behave.
When the things that you do and the way you behave match your values, life is usually good and you are satisfied and content. But when these don’t align with your personal values, that’s when things feel wrong. This can be a real source of unhappiness.
This is why making a conscious effort to identify your values is so important.
Values have transformative energy. As aspirations, values create visions for the future. Grasping one’s values consciously, people become self-leaders. As self-activists, their living example is “larger than life” both to themselves and others thus easing value performance in real-time.
If your personal vision is going to have any real meaning, you have to live it. And where you live your vision is in your values, because values are what guide your behavior on a day-to-day basis.
Living by your personal values sounds easy-at least in theory. And yet so many of us don’t consistently live by our values. Have you ever been in any of these situations?
- Someone said or did something that you strongly disagreed with, but you didn’t speak up about it and felt ashamed afterwards.
- You set goals for yourself and then failed to meet them.
- Your life or career has not worked out the way you wanted them to.
- What you want often clashes with what you’ve got to do or what’s “practical.”
- You’re so busy pleasing other people that you are not even sure what your own true values are.
If any of these resonate with you, you will need to learn what personal values are and why they’re important.
Let’s start with a personal values definition. Personal values are the things that are important to us, the characteristics and behaviors that motivate us and guide our decisions.
For example, maybe you value honesty. You believe in being honest wherever possible and you think it’s important to say what you really think. When you don’t speak your mind, you probably feel disappointed in yourself.
Or maybe you value kindness. You jump at the chance to help other people, and you are generous in giving your time and resources to worthy causes or to friends and family.
Those are just two examples of personal values out of many. Everyone has their own personal values, and they can be quite different. Some people are competitive, while others value cooperation. Some people value adventure, while others prefer security.
Values matter because you’re likely to feel better if you’re living according to your values and to feel worse if you don’t. This applies both to day-to-day decisions and to larger life choices.
Most of us don’t know our values. We don’t understand what’s most important to us. Instead, we focus on what our society, culture, and media values.
Can you articulate your top 5 to 10 values that are most important to you?
Without undergoing a discovery process, it’s challenging to identify your personal core values. It is easy to speculate and idealize what you should value. But knowing and accepting what you value takes effort.
Choosing Core Values
If you are not sure about your own core values, or if you would like to clarify which of your values are top priority now,
- Start with a Beginner’s Mind
It’s too easy to presume that we know the answer at the start and to, therefore, never embark on a creative, personal discovery process.
Adopt the mind of a beginner—someone with no preconceived notions of what is—to give you access to inner truths to which your conscious mind is yet unaware.
Take a deep breath and empty your mind. Remember that your conscious mind doesn’t have all the answers. Create a space for new insights and revelations to emerge. Getting in right mental and emotional state is an essential first step.
- Choose your top six to eight values from a wide-ranging list of values.
To do this, you need a good list.
Financial Security; Compassion; Health/Fitness; Nature; Accomplishment; Creativity; Dependability; Loyalty; Beauty; Bravery; Gratitude; Love; Connection/Relationships; Learning; Leadership; Survival; Self-Preservation; Security; Adventure; Family; Work; Success; Calm; Freedom; Humor; Recognition; Excellence; Other___;.
Now use one of these lists to select your top six to eight values. Yes, you can change your mind. In fact, it’s natural to modify some of the values on this list as you face new and challenging situations. However, other values represent enduring ideals that you would only change under duress.
- Think of three to six people you most admire or love.
Consider why they are so important to you.
Step 1: Identify and write down six people who are important role models or valued connections for you. Step 2: Think of the values they embody.
Dr. Steven Hayes, the founder of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, suggests that you uncover your values by naming your heroes. For example, why do you admire, say, Martin Luther King, Jr? Is it because he fought for social justice? Is it his commitment to non-violence? His kindness to others? Identifying the specific values embodied by your heroes can inspire you to adopt those values for yourself.
- Chunk Your Personal Values into Related Groups
Combining all the answers from step 2, you now have a master list of personal values. Maybe there are between 20 and 40 values on your list. That’s too many to be actionable.
Your next step is to group these values under related themes.
Values like accountability, responsibility, and timeliness are all related
Values like learning, growth, and development relate to each other.
Connection, belonging, and intimacy are related too. Group them together.
- Determine Your Top Personal Core Values
Now comes the hardest part. After completing step 4, you still may have a sizable list of values. Here are a few questions to help you whittle your list down:
What values are essential to your life?
What values represent your primary way of being?
What values are essential to supporting your inner self?
As a unique individual, you possess certain strengths and weaknesses. Your values matter most to you.
How many core values should you end up with? Too few and you won’t capture all the unique dimensions of your being. Too many and you’ll forget them or won’t take advantage of them.
While the number of core values differs for each person, the magic range seems to be between 5 and 10. Rank them in the order of importance. This is often the most challenging part.
You may need to do this step in multiple sittings. After doing one round of ranking put it aside and “sleep on it.” Revisit your ranking the next day and see how it sits with you. Then, go through the process again.
- Observe yourself and learn.
As you live your life, be mindful of the choices you make. For several days, consciously put a label on the values behind your key decisions at work and at home. Pay particular attention to whether the values you chose above are reflected in your daily life. If not, what values are you expressing or living by as you go through your day? Are there patterns? What can you learn about what you want, what you are willing to give up, and what is non-negotiable in your life? If you experience a lot of dissatisfaction with your choices, you may not be living up to your values or you may need to re-evaluate what is most important to you.
- Focus on the bitter and the sweet in your life.
Dr. Hayes suggests that you learn about your values by thinking back to both the sweetest and most painful moments of your life. These moments could direct you to what you care about most. For instance, what were the peak experiences that might reveal key values? If you won an award for teaching, consider that “leadership” or “motivating others” might be significant values. What were the most painful experiences? If you know the pain of being excluded by others, you might realize that “compassion” is one of your primary values.
“Values” is one of six key elements to knowing who you are. The others are interests, temperament, biorhythms, life goals, and strengths. But of all these, knowing your values is the royal road to self-knowledge because values choices both reveal and build character as you act on them. Your values are even more important than your goals, because you might not reach your goals, but you can almost always choose to live by your values. Knowing your core values can help you reduce stress, communicate with more compassion, increase your self-confidence, and power up your willpower.
Thanks for reading. Have a lovely day!