Why and how values can be a guiding force in our life
Why do I feel out of alignment? Why am I frustrated all the time? Why do I never seem to get time to do the things that matter most?
If you’ve ever asked yourself a question like this, then learning about and applying your values will be a useful activity for you.
This is the first part of a three-part series designed to educate and inspire you to know yourself.
The more we know about ourselves, the more we can live satisfying and fulfilling lives.
This post is all about our values. Why values are important, understanding what values are, learning how we can uncover what our values are, and knowing what to do next once we know our values.
Other parts of this series will cover learning about and applying our strengths and our styles. When we are in tune with what makes us tick, what lights us up and what is most important we can make better decisions for our life.
What are Values?
Our values are more than our thoughts and behaviours. Our values are our inner-most truth of what is important to us.
Personal values are held deep within. They guide our thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
Values are like an internal compass, guiding the way to our most authentic-self.
Why are Values Important?
When we know our values, we can live in alignment with them. Having knowledge of what is most important to us and what we have a deep-emotional investment in allows us to consciously operate in a way that expresses our values.
When we don’t know our values, we may progress through life missing opportunities to make the best possible choice for ourselves. Whether that is thinking, feeling or doing – our choices about the way we live our life have a significant impact on our satisfaction and fulfillment.
It is not so much a case of not knowing what our values are, versus actively paying attention to what our values are. Because values are so deeply held within us, they are there, so it is not as if we don’t have values. But taking the time to uncover and learn more about what our values are and the impact they can have on the way we choose to live our life is a powerful activity.
Values in Action
When we know our values, we can put them into action in a variety of ways in our life.
Knowing our values helps us make decisions about how we spend our time.
How we choose to spend our time contributes to our feelings of personal satisfaction, development and contentment.
Knowing our values helps us understand who we’d like to spend our time with.
We are connected. We need each other for growth and survival. However, some people and relationships are better for us than others.
When we understand our values, we can nurture those relationships that bring out the best in us. And likewise, if we know the values of those closest to us we can help bring the best out in them.
Knowing our values can help us make better career choices.
The ideal scenario would be working in a job that allows us to express our values both when we are at work and when we are at home. It may be that this is not possible now, but it is something we can work toward when we have the knowledge of our values to inform our decisions.
Our current job may not sit in alignment with our values. But we may accept that knowing the job is a stepping stone for a future position that is aligned. Or it may be that the job gives us enough resources – time and financial – to spend our time outside of work doing things that bring us joy and fulfillment.
If we know our values the choice is ours to make – which is most important for me right now.
Knowing our values helps us figure out what is most important for us to achieve throughout our life.
We know the benefit of living mindfully and living in the present moment, as it is the only moment we have. However, our actions today help build our future that our future selves will thank us for.
When we know our values, we can consider the future we want to create. We can build a beautiful life that centres around what matters most.
Knowing Your Values
Discovering your values can be a simple exercise. Taking time to think abut what are your non-negotiables, or what you notice you miss most from your current situation. Or thinking about what characterises the times you feel most at peace and ease.
There are more involved ways to identify your values through an assessment. There’s plenty of online options. They involve looking through lists and identifying what resonates most with you. Or through a process of elimination, removing what is least important to you. Here’s some examples here and here.
We may have many things we consider important to us. But we can’t always pay equal attention to everything. This is why prioritising our values is an important exercise.
3 Steps to Living In Alignment With Your Values
Now we know our values we can take action to embed them into our every day.
Question what this information means to you. Does it help you answer why you’ve felt the way you’ve felt in past scenarios? Do you feel your highest values are treated with priority, or are you always placing other things ahead of them?
Reflecting on the results and deciphering what it means will help you determine what you need to do next.
Consider what will you do with this knowledge. Then act on it.
The only way we can change is by taking action. Thinking about our next steps is not enough. We must couple the motivation with action.
We can share our top values with a loved one. They may be able to help us stay on track with living in line with our values.
Values can serve as a guiding force, propelling us forward, or they can serve as an observer of our lives, wishing we did things differently. The difference is whether we pay attention to our values and consciously choose to act in alignment with them, or not.
When we know ourselves, we can live life confidently. We can think, feel and act in accordance with our values. It starts with knowing our values.
Do you know yours?