WHAT ARE YOUR VALUES ?
HOW VALUES HELP US
More often than not, we fail to realize the existence of values. We can lead much easier lives if we are able to acknowledge our values and honor them when we make plans and decisions.
If we value our families, but have to work 70-hour weeks in our jobs, we are likely to face internal stress and conflict. Another instance could be that if we don’t value competition, and work in a highly competitive sales environment, we are likely to be unsatisfied with our jobs In these types of situations, understanding our values can really help. When we know our own values, we can use them to make decisions about how to live our lives, and we can answer the more important questions like:
- What job should I pursue?
- Should I accept this promotion?
- Should I start my own business?
- Should I compromise, or be firm with my position?
- Should I follow tradition, or travel down a new path?
So, we need to take the time to understand the real priorities in our life, and we will be able to determine the best direction for us and our life goals.
Our values remain constant almost throughout lives. However these values don’t have strict limits or boundaries. We need to realize that our values may change as we move through various stages in life. For example, when I started my career my top priority was the immediate fi- nancial gain out of the job, however, as I progress and grow, my priority has shifted to gaining more knowledge out of the job. Also, after starting a family, work-life balance is what I value the most.
We need to understand that as our definition of success changes, so does our personal values. So, keeping in touch with your values is a lifelong exercise. It is important that we continuously revisit this, especially if we start to feel unbalanced and can’t seem to figure out why.
Now we will do a little exercise below. However, do bear in mind that values that were important in the past may not be relevant now.
1) Defining Your Values
When you define your personal values, you discover what’s truly im- portant to you. A good way of starting to do this is to look back on your life – to identify when you felt really good, and really confident that you were making good choices.
STEP 1: Identify the times when you were happiest Find examples from both your career and per- sonal life. This will ensure some balance in your answers.
- What were you doing?
- Were you with other people? Who?
- What other factors contributed to your happi- ness?
STEP 2: Identify the times when you were most proud Use examples from your career and personal life.
- Why were you proud?
- Did other people share your pride? Who?
- What other factors contributed to your feelings of pride?
STEP 3: Identify the times when you were most fulfilled and satisfied Again, use both work and personal examples.
- What need or desire was fulfilled?
- How and why did the experience give your life meaning?
- What other factors contributed to your feelings of fulfillment?
STEP 4: Determine your top values, based on your experiences of happiness, pride, and fulfillment. Why is each experience truly important and memorable? Use the following list of common personal values to help you get started – and aim for about 10 top values. (As you work through, you may find that some of these naturally com- bine. For instance, if you value philanthropy, community, and generosity, you might say that service to others is one of your top values.)
STEP 5: Prioritize your top values
This step is probably the most difficult, because you’ll have to look deep inside yourself. It’s also the most important step, 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.
- Write down your top values, not in any particular order.
- 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 visualize a situation in which you would have to make that choice. For example, if you compare the values of service and stability, imagine that you must decide whether to sell your house and move to another country to do valuable foreign aid work, or keep your house and volunteer to do charity work closer to home.
- 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.
- Do these values make you feel good about yourself ?
- Are you proud of your top three values?
- Would you be comfortable and proud to tell your values to people you respect and admire?
- Do these values represent things you would support, even if your choice isn’t popular, and it puts you in the minority? When you consider your values in decision making, you can be sure to keep your sense of integrity and what you know is right, and approach decisions with confidence and clarity. You’ll also know that what you’re doing is best for your current and future happiness and satisfaction.
Making value-based choices may not always be easy. However, making a choice that you know is right is a lot less difficult in the long run.
Finally… I hope you were able to identify a few of your values after reading through this article. Now, we need to understand them. It is a challenging and important exercise. Our personal values are a central part of who we are – and who we want to be. By becoming more aware of these important factors in our life, we can use them as a guide to make the best choices in life’s many moments.