Your personal values, whether you are aware of them or not, are playing a major role in your life. We all use our values when we evaluate how we feel life is going for ourselves. It is our values that are really running our lives. But for most of us, this is happening at an unconscious level. We are all using our values to make decisions, big and small but often remain unaware of what we are really doing. If these values are really are running our lives, it makes sense to get to know them a little better. And if you need more convincing as to their importance, check this scientifically proven fact: living according to your values is the path to optimum fulfillment and results.
So what are personal values and how can you discover yours?
Personal values are the things that are most important to you. Your values are very much the core of your personality and play a large part in influencing your actions and behaviours. Becoming aware of your personal values will help you better understand what will create the most fulfilling life for you. For example, if one of your personal values is family and you create a business that requires you to be away from your family for extended periods of time, you will not feel fulfilled, even if the business is a great success. So knowing your values, can help you direct your life to bring you the results and sense of fulfillment that you truly want.
To discover your personal values, there are many great tools that you can use and the good news is that you can simply start by answering the questions below:
Reflect upon the last year or so of your life and answer the following:
1. When did you feel the happiest?
Consider what you were doing, who you were with.
2. When were you most proud of yourself?
Consider WHY you felt that way and if anyone else also shared in your pride.
3. What was a peak experience you had? ie. an experience that made you feel fulfilled and satisfied
Consider how this event gave your life meaning.
4. What do your choices show you about your values?
Consider the people you choose to have in your life, how you treat others and how you respond to hardship. In these interactions, you act according to your values. Which values are you acting upon?
Consider each answer you have and write down what value it represents. Once you have a list of values for all of your answers, narrow it down to your top 5, the top 5 values you can’t live without.
Then, make sure you write them down, put them in your phone, a Dropbox Paper file or write them on a post-it and put it on your fridge. You can now use these values to direct your focus and to help you make decisions. For example, knowing that “connection” is a top 5 value, start to think of ways that you can incorporate that value into your day today. It could be smiling and chatting with the barista as you get coffee, it could be really stopping and listening to your colleague as they discuss an issue. When making decisions, you can evaluate your options by how they align or don’t align with your values. If you’re not feeling particularly happy with the way your life is going, you can re-evaluate all aspects of your life based on these values. Then implement changes to move forward.
What you’ll find is that living (and working) according to your values will bring you a sense of peace, make your life much easier and create a sense of purpose you never knew you could have.