“Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave them all over everything you do.” – Elvis Presley
Values. Small word, huge impact! Those 6 little letters are the foundation of every single action you take – the things you believe are important, the beliefs that guide your decision-making and behaviour, the lighthouse that guides you through challenges.
Your values help you determine your priorities and, in the end, are the measuring sticks by which you’ll decide whether your life is meaningful and successful. Pretty powerful stuff, right? The trick is, for your values to work their magic, you need to know what they are.
First, let’s get a few things clear.
Yes, you have some! You definitely do have values, even if you aren’t yet sure exactly what they are. They’re the reasons you do the things you do… even if you don’t recognise them out loud. When you organised that family dinner, perhaps it was your value of ‘connection’ or ‘belonging’ driving it. When you put your hand up for that promotion, shout out to ‘improvement’ or maybe ‘power’ as the driving force.
Values aren’t goals. You don’t tick one off before moving onto the next one. If one of your values is creativity, you don’t paint a canvas, tick creativity off the list and move on – you continually strive to embed creativity into your daily thoughts and actions.
Values change. Your values will change as you move through different ages and life stages, and defining them is a continuous, meaningful process. From angst-ridden teen to intrepid globetrotter to corporate CEO to stay-at-home parent, your values are uniquely yours, and they aren’t set in stone.
Why is it important to work out your values?
When your behaviour is true to your values, life is good – you’re content, happy and energised. On the other hand, when your actions don’t align with your values, you’re conflicted, unsettled and unhappy. It’s as simple as that.
If you value family but work 70-hour weeks in your job, it’s likely you feel stressed and conflicted. If competition isn’t one of your values and you work in a highly competitive sales environment, you’re highly unlikely to be satisfied with your job.
When you’re clear about what you value, you can work out what success looks like for you and take clear actions towards honouring those values every day. You can decide not to take that job knowing that a 70-hour work week won’t honour your value of family, one of your measuring sticks of success.
How do you work out your values?
Sometimes the things that make you feel really low are a good indication of the values you’re compromising – just like the things that make you feel happy and alive are a good indication of your true values.
Some people get to a point where they take a look in the mirror and realise they’re not seeing their best self. Perhaps they take a leave of absence to spend time with their family, reconnect. Maybe they trek out to an Ashram in a remote corner of the globe, Eat Pray Love style, to find themselves. However they choose to tackle the search, it’s their true values they’re looking for.
My free self-paced guide provides a three-step system to defining your values that will simplify this important process for you… and save on travel costs!
Once you’ve worked through the process and have defined your core values, you can work on consciously embedding them into your daily life. There’s no point acknowledging your values if you don’t use them to guide your actions.
Do your values ring true?
Be honest with yourself and do a reality check. ‘Integrity’. ‘Respect’. ‘Communication’. ‘Excellence’. Honourable values to hold, right? These were the corporate values of Enron, as per their 2000 annual report. Right before their dubious accounting practices resulted in their bankruptcy. If you say you value climate change, but you drive around in a gas-guzzling 4WD, there’s a disconnect. When push comes to shove, are your actions honouring your values?
One of my core values is ‘expansion’ in all aspects of my life. So I detox, attempt to be a little less rigid in the way I go about things, try new foods – all active ways I’m trying to live my values. I’m walking the walk and I know it’ll make me happier in the long run… even though I’m fairly sure I’ll never develop a taste for oysters!
Acknowledging your true values and then using them to make decisions about how to live your life is the only way to achieve really meaningful success.
If you want to work out what a meaningful and successful life looks like to you, make sure you download my free self-paced guide to defining your values. Take your time working through the process – I promise you, once you’ve nailed what it is that makes you tick, it’s a game-changer for every aspect of your life.
If you’d like some help on a reset, my Recalibrate Self-Paced Coaching Program is available to start now. Plus, you’ll learn life-long skills like value-setting and taking action to achieve your goals, as well as how to smash through limiting beliefs, bad habits and negative thinking. You can download an Info Pack for all the details, or simply get in touch and we’ll organise a time to chat!