Whether we realize it or not, our personal values are the guiding light in our lives. This will prove itself in your surroundings, your relationships and your interests. If you value beauty, then your home and how you adorn yourself will reflect it. If you value family, then how you spend your time will reflect that. If you value adventure, this too will show itself in the movies and books you enjoy.
The things we do and choose to purchase naturally reflect our inner selves. If we don’t live up to our values, we experience disappointment and distress. You probably know of people who do things that are in conflict with their values and you may hear them talk about how this affects them. An example may be the man who enjoys quiet time in his home, but his wife is always making plans to go over to the homes of their relatives for the holidays. She values the mirth and chaos of large groups and cannot understand why he tries to disappear into a quiet corner during these events. This demonstrates two completely opposite sets of values and could cause conflict between the couple if it is not addressed.
Around the water cooler, each tells a different story. He will mention how much he hates the holidays. She will tell her girlfriends that he is a stick in the mud. Do you know someone like this? Most of us do!
While an easy solution would be to come to a compromise on how holidays are spent, this point of negotiation can only come about if one or both of the parties recognize that the basis of their divergence is held in each individual’s personal values.
These same connections apply to how we conduct business, too. Our values are the guidelines which determine how we treat others, what we stand for, and who we serve, or don’t serve for that matter.
To help you discover your values, we can begin with goal work.
Take some time alone to answer the following questions. Jot down the first things that come to mind and don’t sensor yourself.
What are your goals?
What is important to you?
For each goal:
What’s important about this goal?
What’s the value you treasure in this goal?
What meaning does this hold for you? This answer may be just a word or it may be a phrase. This will signal your inner values.
Now, answer these general questions and again, just capture the first things that come to mind without judgment.
What are your favorite movies and books?
What is your favorite scene in each movie or story?
What is your favorite color and what does it represent to you? How does this color speak to you?
Who do you admire most and why?
What are your favorite things in your house?
If you have an entire day to yourself, without a single errand to run or task to complete (go ahead and stretch with this one!), what would you do?
Where is your favorite place in the entire world?
You may add anything you choose to this list. Once you feel you have completed it, put it aside and don’t purposefully think of it again for a few days.
You will find that your mind will bring up new ideas and thoughts about what you have written. This is the suppressed part of you rising to the top. Welcome these reflections and add them to your list. You may be surprised by some of the things you remember!
The final step is to look for themes, words you repeatedly use, and the overall meaning of what you have written. Select 10 words that either show up in this exercise or that come to mind as you review. These ten words are the basis of your values.
You may find that you tweak your list a bit over time. Most importantly, enjoy the process. It’s all about you and all for you. Your heart and soul will thank you for giving them the extra time and attention!