Tap Into More Joy By Defining Your Personal VALUES
What Are Personal Values?
Often when we think about our values, they can feel abstract and intangible.
For example: happiness- we know it is there and we feel it sometimes, but it is fleeting.
Other times when we think about our values, they are what we think we “should,” value like physical health or family.
But there is another kind of values. And knowing these values can help you live a stronger, happier and more balanced life.
Our personal, core values start to develop in our early childhood experiences, continue to be re-evaluated and assessed throughout life, and either consciously or subconsciously inform the decisions we make.
These values represent who we are, how we show up in the world, the relationships we choose, the career path we are on, our likes and dislikes, our passions, and our world view.
Getting to the bottom of what values are informing our decisions, allows us to live the life we truly want, rather than just living a life based on what we think we want or should want because of society’s expectations and pressures.
How to Discover Your Own Values:
Explore Your Past
Think about a time when you were a kid where you experienced something that made you feel really proud or really amazed. Thinking back to our early childhood experiences is one way we can get in touch with our core values.
Take Clara for example, when she was 7 years old she received all As on her report card for the first time. She was so proud of herself and felt this internal drive to do well in school. She continued to do well throughout her school career, and graduated with her Masters Degree in Engineering. Two of Clara’s core values are education, and personal achievement.
Be Mindful of Your Present
Personal, core values are what we are actually doing each day, not what we are aspiring to do.
For example, if you value physical health but you ate pizza and drank beer on the couch several nights this week, and canceled your gym membership, then physical health is not a core value.
Alternatively, if you have been working hard at growing your business this week, and networked with a few people, then having a fulfilling career and connecting with others are your core values. Our values eb and flow with the seasons of life, and aspiring values can certainly become core values. Most core values are not static or set in stone.
Take a daily or weekly inventory of what choices you make and reflect upon the values that informed them. Notice if what you thought were core values are actually aspiring values and be curious about if that is okay with you or if you want to make a change.
Contemplate Your Future
When you think about your future, what must you have in your life in order to be fulfilled, beyond he physical requirements of food,
shelter, community etc?
For example, could you live happily into old age if you never were involved in a creative project again? Could you live without travel and adventure? What about solitude and time to quietly contemplate?
Of course, there are many things you may want in your future, but for this exercise try to focus only on those things that you feel you absolutely must have. The things that you need in order to be fully yourself and feel that your life is fulfilling.
Wrapping It Up:
Remember there are no wrong answers to any of these questions. And it may take you some time to articulate your values in the way that feels just right for you.
But we promise it is worth it.
Defining our values helps us to make the best choices in areas as crucial as our careers and our most intimate relationships, and as trivial as what we should do this Friday night.
And, knowing our core values helps us feel more confident, responsible, clear and authentic.
So, do yourself a favor and sit down for 20 minutes to contemplate or journal about your values using the ideas above as a springboard.
What will you discover? And how will it help you make healthier choices?
There is only one way to find out…
So, go explore and see what you discover!
And if you would like to share your thoughts and discoveries related to this exercise, please join us for more discussion on our Facebook Page.