What are your values? Does the answer roll off your tongue in a matter of seconds or did you have to pause and reflect before answering?
You should be readily able to spit out the answer because your values are your personal standard of driving and guiding behaviors.
TYPES OF PERSONAL VALUES
We confuse values to mean something that is cultural, moral, or even religious and they certainly do include those things. Fundamentally, a value is a strongly held belief about something that is important.
There doesn’t have to be any religious or cultural connotation about it, although, those items frequently drive our behavior. It doesn’t even have to be “moral” because it’s your value. You value what you value but it’s important to understand what you value because it makes an impact to the direction of your life.
Types of Values Include:
- Relationship Values – These values reflect how you communicate and interact with other people in your life such as your partner, spouse, family, friends, and even colleagues at work. Relationship values may include: honesty, confidence, kindness and being considerate.
- Individual Values – Individual values reflect what you consider important for your self-interest and personal growth such as passion, creativity, humility and personal achievement.
- Career Values – Career values are two-fold. This may reflect the values you hold for your career or the values you expect your organization to have such as: financial savvy, teamwork, productivity and strategic relationships.
- Societal Values – Societal values reflect how you view your role in society such as, environmental awareness, diversity, and sustainability.
WHY SHOULD YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR VALUES?
We’re not here to debate perceived misplaced priorities and what’s right and what’s wrong. That’s for you to figure out but understanding your values is crucial because that’s what helps you make the best decisions for your life.
Because it makes a tremendous difference in life satisfaction… it’s as simple as that.
Let’s say you value teamwork. Maybe you believe that the best results happen in a team environment and not because of individual efforts. If you choose a career in sales where the setting is highly competitive and individually focused, how happy are you going to be with your job?
That’s where the friction comes in. You’re at odds with what you value and your career isn’t going to be congruent with your value system. When we align our career and our life with our values, we are most fully “whole” and most fully invigorated.
Your personal values are a central part of who you are and who you desire to be. Becoming more mindful of these vital aspects in your life will guide you to make the best choice in any situation. And, frankly, some of life’s decisions are really about determining what you value most. While many options appear reasonable, it’s helpful to rely on your values – and use them as a strong guiding force to point you in the right direction.
When the things you do match your values, you’ll feel more fulfilled, energized, focused, and satisfied with your outcome. But when your life, career, and even your personal relationships are not in alignment with your values, it creates a source of frustration which will magnify in terms of irritation over time. That’s why making a concerted effort to identify your true values is so central to your emotional well-being.
PUTTING IT TO THE TEST
Have you ever tested your value system? Identifying and understanding your values is a challenging and important exercise. Maybe you value being adventurous, being creative and being open-minded but have you ever thought about how your values match up to your day-to-day life?
So, right now – what would you list as your top five values?
Now, test them out. Think about a decision you are trying to make.
The key question is: “How does the choice you are considering align with your core values?” If you get in the habit of matching your decisions with your values, you are in a position to come out ahead more frequently.
And being aware of your values also helps you recognize when something is absent in your life. If you look at the list you made above, can you match your values to what is happening in your current life? If it’s not a match, what’s that mean to you and how will you change it?
CHANGING OVER TIME
Reflecting on your values is ongoing. Values shift as you understand your inner desires and as your priorities in life change. That’s why a regular life reflection process is so instrumental. You don’t find your values at age 20 and expect those same values to carry you through the rest of your life. While many values are fairly stable, other values can change over time and with life-changing events. Marriage, birth of a child, and even the death of a loved one can shift your values. So reflecting upon and finding ways to live your values will add fulfillment as well as to improve your energy and ignite your passions.
So, now how do you answer the question, “What are your values?” Just keep asking yourself if everything you are doing right now is in alignment with your what you value? If not, it may be time for a shift.
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