You might have taken a job at a company you thought was a good fit for your values, but slowly over time you realized you don’t share the same values. Now you feel trapped between making a living and living with yourself.
When you are feeling lost, hopeless or overwhelmed, I’m a big believer in getting back to basics by reconnecting what you value.
Your most limited personal resource is your attention. It’s more limited than your money, time, energy, knowledge, skills and connections.
Why Values Are Your Compass
The great struggle of life is how to maintain our attention on what we value most. Values help you do that.
When you are faced with a big life-changing decision, it’s your values that center you to make the best decision for you and no one else.
Every day we make endless, seemingly tiny decisions we think don’t really affect our course in life, but they do.
It’s your values that remind you of the significance of those tiny decisions to prevent your life from slowly going off course.
Values empower you to define failure and success for yourself.
Your values give you the courage to be yourself. They help you align yourself with like-minded people who want to see you succeed because they respective your values.
When you understand and live your values, you stand for something. You gain clarity about what you want and don’t want. People will be drawn to you.
They describe how you give your attention and remind you of how you want to pay attention.
How to Discover Your Values
Values aren’t something you search for online and pick out five words from a list of 400 words someone else identified as values. Why?
Because those are someone else’s words, not yours.
Don’t choose values to please others!
Discover your values by observing your actions, habits and behaviors.
Sure we all want to think “honesty,” “empathy,” and “authenticity” are values to hold, but the question is, “Do they guide how you give your attention?”
Your values are your personal code of conduct.
They are like a mantra helping remind you on a regularly basis of how you want to think and act. They are intentions of how you want to live everyday, not aspirations of what you wish to be.
Exercises To Reveal Your Values
#1 Make a list of your proudest moments.
List achievements, experiences and stories in your life that made you feel most proud of yourself. Then look for patterns and trends each of these proudest moments have in common. Finally, ask yourself, “What values do each of these moments share?”
#2 Track your strongest reactions.
For a day or maybe even a week, monitor your snap reactions. You know, those strong reactions that come right from your gut and you didn’t even think about how you were going to react. They can be reactions when you got really excited, angry, offended or sad. Look for patterns and trends in these reactions. Then ask yourself, “Why do I react the way I do and what does this say about what I value?”
#3 Make a list of people you respect and admire.
Make a list of people you know and even people you don’t know that motivate you to be a better person. What values do you think they hold? Which of those values are most important to you?
#4 Visualize your values.
If writing is not your thing, try visualizing your values by gathering images that energize you. Look for patterns and trends among the images you’ve gathered. How would you describe the values they represent and share?
When you do these exercises, you can use any words, phrases, sentences or sayings you want to represent your values. What’s important is they are your words and you feel connected to them.
My values in no particular order are:
- time over money
- keep things as simple
- family first
- be frugal, not cheap
- work from anywhere
I suggest keeping your values to no more than 5. The more values you have, the harder it is to live up to them, given your limited attention;)
Remember, your values are a statement of how you want to live your life and work.
The next time you have a tough decision, first check in with your values to see if they are in alignment with your choices.