In Part 1 of Understanding Your Values you learned what values are, what benefits you can achieve from gaining clarity of them and also what you experience when you make choices that are not aligned with your values. Now you will go through the exercise of actually eliciting your values. You will gain clarity of what is most important to you in life, and then you will explore how you can take action to make the most from this.
Ok, so let’s do it! Its time for you to build your values hierarchy. To do this properly, I suggest allowing yourself enough time where you do not have to be anywhere in the next couple of hours and also being in a quiet space with no distractions so you can do some self-reflection. Read over this whole post first so you understand the process and then when you’re ready, find your space and take action. Some people find it hard to do self-reflection and spend time evaluating their lives, but if you’re here and reading this then I think you’re already one-step ahead of the game and you’re taking the right steps! I’ll try make it as simple as possible for you.
1) Get some paper, a pen, put yourself in a comfy place away from distractions and get ready for step 2
2) In the middle of your sheet of paper, write ‘What is Important To Me In My Life?’ and circle it…. that’s right, we’re mind-mapping!
3) Answer that question!
Think deep. Think hard. Think of what makes you happy. Think of your life gone by and the experiences you have had. Think of what motivates you to get out of bed in the morning. Think of what inspires you. Write write write absolutely everything that comes to your mind. If you’re thinking of long sentences, try encapsulate them in a single word. For example, if you’re thinking that you want to have a successful career and make it to the top of your Organisation, simply put ‘success’, or ‘career’, or ‘successful career’.
Remember, these are your values, not what everyone else thinks are your values or suggests your values should be. Make sure what you’re writing down makes sense for you and that you truly feel some passion as you are writing them down. Once you start coming to a bit of a halt and you feel you have exhausted all the areas that you feel are important to you, read this comprehensive list of values and see if there are others that light a spark or jump out at you that you can add to your list.
You will now have a comprehensive map of values that are true to you. Perhaps you wrote 10, perhaps you wrote 20, perhaps you wrote 100! Now is the harder part. You want to ensure that you elicit the values that are MOST important to you. Your goal is to now get your comprehensive list of values down to a concise list of YOUR TOP 10 VALUES.
Read over your map of values that you have created, one by one going through them. As you read each one, what do you feel or experience? If you’re not experiencing a sense of excitement or passion or you are unsure or a bit hesitant when reading over one, then it is probably lesser of a value to you. For those that you read over and you get a tingling feeling, a buzz, or it makes you feel positive in some way, then these would be your highest values. Ask yourself is this TRULY your value or is it simply a desirable trait? Think through when you have you displayed these values? Did it motivate you? Did it make you feel happy? Do you actually live this value? Write your list on the back of your mind map.
Elicit and decide on your Top 10 values of what is most important to you.
Now that you have your concise list of values that resemble what is important in your life, how does this make you feel? When you look at them does it ‘feel right’? Does it inspire and motivate you? Does it resemble you and where you want to go?
We’re taking it one-step further. Now that you have your list of values that are most important to you, you are now going to rank them. You want to understand what it is that matters MOST to you. Once again, take the time and go through the exercise of reading over your list and sensing which ones are the ones that give you the buzz or spark and rank your values 1 through 10. If you are finding it tough to determine which value is more important to you, try create a scenario or situation between the two values. For example, if you are struggling to determine which value is more important between Learning and Fitness, ask yourself the question “on most occasions, what would I rather be doing, reading a book or going to the gym?”.
Congratulations! You now have a concisely ranked list of the things that matter most in your life. How does it make you feel when you read over this list? Does it feel right and give you a sense of who you are?
“Show me your list of values and I can tell you who you are. – Brendan Baker“
I don’t know if that above sentence has been quoted before or not, but if not, I’ll coin it! As we have explored in Understanding Your Values – Part 1, your values define who are. Let’s have a look at the below list of values from someone.
Just from this list you can get a picture for what this kind of person may be like. Their strongest motivators are to have a successful career and enhance their wealth which is where they would spend the majority of their time and energy. When it comes to going to the gym or going out and socialising, this person still values these, however if presented with an opportunity of creating wealth or going out with friends, they may choose the former. This of course isn’t to say that on every single occasion they would choose this, as this is still within the Top 10 most important areas of life for this person, however if they were to ignore their top values on more occasions than not, they would experience dis-harmony which we explored in Part 1.
Lets now take another example. What if we simply flip that list of values on its head? We would end up with the following order of values.
What does this list of values tell you about this person? They still value the same things… however they value these things differently. This person would absolutely love spending time and having fun with family and friends with open and honest relationships. They still value having wealth and a successful career, however if their career would be at the detriment of relationships, what do you think they would do?
How well are you currently living your values? When you read through them, do you feel you are satisfying what is most important to you? I suggest you to compare your values with your Wheel of Life to see if the things that matter most are currently being satisfied. Understanding your values and combining this with your Wheel of Life gives you a good picture of what is most important to you and whether you feel as those these areas are being completely fulfilled.
Understanding Your Values and Taking Action
Now that you have your list of values, representing what is most important to you in life, let’s explore a little deeper into how you can utilise this.
1) Making decisions
As outlined in Part 1, understanding your values helps you to prioritise your time as well as make consistent decisions. Now that you know what is most important to you in your life, you will be more consciously aware of what it is that makes you happy and where you want to get to. As you are now more consciously aware, your decisions will be more consistent and in-line with your values. What does this mean? Ultimately, you will be able to make decisions on a more regular basis that lead you to being more happy and your consistent decisions will also help you achieve success in the areas that you pursue, and importantly, get you there faster.
2) Achieving Harmony
We explored in Part 1 the concept of harmony and what happens when your actions or behaviours are not in harmony with your values. Now that you are more consciously aware of what is important to you, you can make choices and take action in a way that is aligned to your values. You will understand more clearly now when you have feelings of guilt, frustration, anger, disappointment and what has brought these feelings on. More importantly, you will be more conscious to be able to bring yourself back into a state of harmony and behave in ways that are aligned to your values. Achieving harmony is essential for Happiness and reaching peak performance in life.
3) Planning Your Life
Now that you have a clear understanding of what is most important to you, you can start to explore ideas of where you want to be heading in life. Your values are your driving force for what gets you up in the morning. Everyday when you wake up, you want to be completely motivated and driven and return to your bed at night knowing that you gave the day 110%, don’t you?. Now that your values are clearly defined, start to think through where you are now and where you want to be and how consciously making decisions can get you there. This is something that I will take you through in another post.
Going through this exercise is often a wake-up call for many. One of the most common things I hear when people go through this exercise is that they realise that what they are currently doing is not aligned to their values. For example, a lady who I recently suggested go through this process came to realise that her strongest value was the term challenging. This enveloped many things for her, including her passion for learning, development and giving everything 100%. What she came to realise was that her day-job was so out of line with what was most important to her in life… she had been in her role for three years and with her company for five years and she was not being challenged at all. What did she do? She went in the direction of completely throwing herself in the deep-end, quitting her job and becoming an entrepreneur in her field of specialty. How has she gone? Absolutely fantastic! She thrives on the challenge of running her own business. This is what gets her up in the morning! She can now consciously make decisions that are aligned to the things that are most important to her.
Re-assessing Your Values
Every now and then its important we stop and reassess our values. Ask yourself whether they are still your values? This is an important part of the process to ensure we are continually living with passion and making the decisions needed to get us to where we want to go. Sometimes a life event forces us to reevaluate our values, such as the birth of a son or daughter, or a death in the family or a close friend, or an unexpected event. When these things happen your values may change. Perhaps that successful career that you were enjoying becomes less important once you have a child as you value time with your family as a higher priority. Or perhaps you value friendships more after a close friend passes away. Keep your values close by so you can continually keep front of mind what is important to you. Remember, show me your list of values and I can show you who you are. You are your values.
For the Comments
How do you utilise your values? Has understanding your values given you clearer direction in life? How has understanding your values made decision-making and prioritising easier? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!