Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live your life, they help you to determine your priorities and form the basis of important decision-making.
When you live in accordance with your values, life is usually good – you tend to feel comfortable with yourself. When, on the other hand, you act against your values this tends to lead to uneasiness, stress and unhappiness.
How Values Help You
Understanding your values can really help you to make the right decisions for you, questions like: –
a. Should I compromise, or hold firm on my position?
b. What role should I pursue/should I accept this promotion?
c. Should I start my own business?
Setting the appropriate goals will help you to achieve a successful life in your own terms, rather than following a predetermined path, which could make you unsettled, without knowing why.
When many options seem reasonable, it can be helpful to reflect on your values – and use them as a strong guiding force to point you in the right direction.
This is why it is important to make the effort to identify your values.
NB Our values are quite stable, however they can shift during life, so it is a good idea to review our values every 5 years or so.
Step 1: Identify the times in your life when you were happiest
For balance, find examples from both your personal and professional life.
a. What were you doing?
b. Were you with other people? Who?
c. What other factors contributed to your happiness?
Step 2: Identify the times when you were most proud
Use examples from your personal and professional life.
a. Why were you proud?
b. Did other people share your pride? Who?
c. What other factors contributed to your feelings of pride?
Step 3: Identify the times when you felt most fulfilled and satisfied
Again, use both personal and professional examples.
a. What need or desire was fulfilled?
b. How and why did the experience give your life meaning?
c. What other factors contributed to your feelings of fulfilment?
Step 4: Determine your top values based on your experiences of happiness, pride and fulfilment
Why is each experience truly important and memorable? Use the following list of common personal values to help you get started – and aim for 12 top values.
Step 5: Prioritise your top values
This step is probably the most difficult, because you’ll have to look deep inside yourself. It is useful, because, when making a decision, you’ll have to choose between solutions that may satisfy different values. This is when you must know which value is more important to you.
a. Write down your top values on separate pieces of paper.
b. Look at the first two values and ask yourself, “If I could satisfy only one of these, which would I choose?” It might help to visualise a situation in which you would have to make that choice. For example, if you compare the values of pioneering and efficient, imagine that you must decide whether to accept a new role in a foreign country or make your current department the best in class.
c. Place the most important at the top.
d. Keep working through the list, by comparing each value with each other value, until your list is in the correct order.
Step 6: Reaffirm your values
Check your top-priority values, and make sure they fit with your life and your vision for yourself.
a. Do these values represent things you would support, even if your choice isn’t popular, and it puts you in the minority?
b. Do these values make you feel good about yourself?
c. Are you proud of your top three values?
d. Would you be comfortable and proud to tell your values to people you respect and admire?
Are you genuinely living by these values or do you need to consider changes in your life?
By considering your values in decision-making you will maintain your integrity and promote your own resilience and fulfillment. Making value-based choices is not always be easy, but it is less difficult in the long run.