Many people talk about getting clear on your values or using values as a guide in your life, but perhaps you aren’t clear what values are anyway? And why are they important?
Values are the individual beliefs that people hold and the things that people deeply feel are important in their lives. These beliefs are the underlying motivations for how people act and behave. We can also define values as the preferences in your life. We create them throughout our lives, starting in early childhood.
Values vary between individuals, but there are common and shared values that occur within a family, culture, group or country. One example of a shared value is ‘patriotism’, common within a country. Many family members share similar values because of their upbringing.
Everyone has values, some people just are more aware of what their values are than others. Being aware of what your most important values are — your core values — provides a valuable guide for living a life that feels meaningful and can greatly help with decision making.
Making decisions that go against one of your core values will cause a sense of “distress” or “discomfort”, or feelings of guilt or even a loss. Following one’s core values brings meaning and purpose. They uphold your sense of personal responsibility, giving you a sense of “self-worth.”
Your values will evolve over your lifetime, as your circumstances change, however many do remain constant. Values form a vital part of your personality as they can, and should, determine how you live your life.
Discovering your own values, these things important to you in life, is a process of self-discovery that ideally everyone takes. You will feel better when you live a life in alignment with your values. With so much emphasis placed on happiness in our society, we each need to learn about what our deep core values are — to enable ourselves to live a full and meaningful life.
Once you determine what your core values are and have prioritized them, an important part of the process, you can use your values to guide your life.
Author Stephen R. Covey states:
“People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them. The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about and what you value.”
Spend your time and energy on things that nurture your values. Doing so will ensure that you experience a sense of meaning and more satisfaction with what you are doing and how you spend your time.
Realistically, not every activity you have to do will or even can be a match with your values. However, to live a more fulfilling life, try to spend most of your time doing things congruent with your value system.
If you don’t find meaning in an activity, perhaps none of your values are being met, or worse, are being violated or disregarded. You need to pay attention to these activities and your feelings. Knowing that something is violating a value is a massive hint from the universe or your inner knowing that you need to change your life.
If you can’t change the activity itself, at least not right away, such as your stressful job, then try to find some aspect of your job that can somehow align with a value you hold.
For example, if connection is a core value, you can try to reach out more to co-workers or customers and find that moment of human connection, even if it’s only fleeting. Doing these actions consciously can reduce your job dissatisfaction and even provide a moment of meaning, for both of you. This can be a game changer and greatly increase your life satisfaction.
So what are your values? How do you figure that out?
My next article will be about how to determine your core values, an important personal assignment for a healthier life.
I’ll leave you with some examples of core values. There are too many to list here. Search the internet for a list of core values and you will find many to browse through. Become familiar with what values are, which words describe the values and you will have made a head start into the inner dimension of self-discovery.
Some common values are:
and so many more.
Everyone wants to live a life of meaning. Finding out your core values is a key step to making sure you are doing your best to live the life that is best for you. You are unique and your values are unique to you. There is no right or wrong here.
Once you find out what they are, and remember they can change and evolve as your life changes and evolves, they can be a lighthouse to guide you to a beautiful life.