This post is part of The Awakened Heart Project
Week 29, 30, and 31: Your Values Becomes You
“To be nobody but yourself
in a world which is doing its best,
night and day,
to make you like everybody else
means to fight the hardest battle
which any human being can fight,
and never stop fighting.”
~ E.E. Cummings
Life Lesson 29: The Value of Values
Defining your values in life is an important part of growth and development for many reasons. I think Kevin Daum puts it well when he explains, “Our personal core values are there to guide behavior and choice. Get them right and you’ll be swift and focused in your decision-making, with clear direction. Get them wrong or leave them ambiguous, and you’ll constantly wonder how you got into this mess. ”
Life constantly pushes and pulls us in different directions. In order for us to maneuver through life, we need some sort of compass. That’s where values come in. Our values help guide us through life. They help us develop into the people we want to be. They help ensure our path to personal growth and fulfillment is headed in a direction that is conducive to our happiness and well being.
For instance, let’s say you value family, but your job keeps you away from them 70 hours a week AND you travel. Your children are young so by the time you get home, they’re asleep. You find you’re only seeing them on the weekends, while also trying to get everything else in your life done. You tell yourself that you must provide for your family to justify being gone all the time. But in time, you begin to resent your job, you become depressed, and you feel disconnected. Then, you begin to wonder is the pay worth the sacrifice? For many people it is, but for others, it isn’t. They’ve simply been living on autopilot and never realized they turned down a road that took them away from their values and livelihood.
You see, our values give meaning and purpose to our lives. But when we don’t live by our values, we end up living by someone else’s. Further, dissonance between our beliefs and our actions is significantly distressing, both mentally and emotionally. Believe it or not, long term, it can lead to problems like depression.
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
Are you destined to live a life of someone else’s values? I hope not. Your life can be exactly what you want it to be, but it requires you to take some time to evaluate what you want out of life, what you don’t, and what paths you’re willing to take to get there.
“Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave them all over everything you do”.
Life Lesson 30: Defining Your Core Values
Understanding why establishing personal core values are important is just the first step. The next step is to spend some time actually thinking about what these values are, and writing them down. It may be difficult to hone in on your top values, but I challenge you to do so.
“There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from things we do”.
Exercise in Action:
Below, I have provided a table of core values for you (128 total!). This is just a list of suggestions or common values. Please feel free to add to it as you wish. This exercise is for you, not me, so do what’s best for you.
Step 1 – Go through the list and cross off any values that don’t resonate with you.
Step 2 – Write down your top 30 values.
Step 3 – Go through your list of 30, and write down your top 10
Step 4 – Go through your list of 10 and write down your top 5
Hey, no one said it was going to be easy! But if you’re like me, you’ll end up lumping many into categories.
There are a number of websites out there that can help you do it if you don’t want to take the time to write them down. While in school, I had to complete the Card Sort Activity which is very similar. It is more related to work values and how you want to structure your work/life balance, but it’s still incredibly useful. If you would like to complete that, click HERE
This is a great image of another way to organize your core values:
I know it can be hard to determine your top 5 values, so don’t get too caught up in getting exactly five if it’s a struggle. Like I mentioned before, I categorized quite a few things to fit them in. For example, Friendships and Family I lumped into the same category. This question can be helpful when narrowing down your top values, especially number one.
The most important thing in life to me is….
Life Lesson 31: Living Your Values
How will you know if you’re living your values each and every day? For each of us, this will be different, but it’s important to write down some sort of ideas to help you visualize successfully doing so. In the research and science field, we often state that, “Outcomes must be measurable”. Taking the example of the overworked parent again, maybe valuing family means leaving their job for a less demanding job with similar income. Or maybe it mean, leaving letters for their children in the weeks their gone, or committing to two hours of no distraction on the weekends. Remember, it will be different for every person. What’s important is deciding how you will fulfill your values. Knowing how you will do this will also help you recognize if/when your lifestyle is headed in a place that will not be fulfilling. Here is another question that may help guide you:
I will know when this value is being met in my life when…
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