“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.” – Mahatma Ghandi
Personal values are how we differentiate between “good” and “bad” in our community, culture, or society.
It is what we view as the ideal standards of behavior. Each of us has some guiding principles (personal values) in our life that directs our decision making, goal setting, and overall disposition.
Over time our values will probably change. What we thought as children, teens and young adults will be modified based on our learnings and life experiences. And as they do, we may question our values and value system when compared to others and society as a whole. And in doing so, our life may become disquieted and something that Keeps US Awake at Night.
Stock in our personal values in theory, seems simple enough.
After all, we are the individual who assigns these core values to ourself. Our values are what are truly important in our life, and it is our natural instinct to follow them.
However, many individuals may put their values aside every day for a variety of reasons. This may prevent them from living a fulfilling life and question what it is they really believe and if their values are real and worthwhile.
Regardless of what career you have or what specific goals you have, values should be a priority in how we conduct ourselves. Although this can clearly be challenging at times, we are capable of living a value-oriented lifestyle, if we allow ourselves to do so by doing the following:
Understanding Our Personal Values
Personal values are the priorities we have in our lives. They are the things that we find immensely important to us and the characteristics that drive us to pursue our dreams and shape the way we approach our decisions and the resultant actions we take.
Everyone has his or her own unique list of values. While one’s values may include cooperation and friendliness, another may prioritize independence and competitiveness.
There is no objective right or wrong value. We define our values by what motivates us and makes us happy, even if it differs from what others define as theirs.
Importance of Personal Values
Personal values help guide us when making a variety of life decisions. They allow us to decide what choices will contribute to living our best life possible.
Values drive each and every one of our actions. So it is important to ensure our values are consistent and clearly thought out. This eliminates clutter and unnecessary distractions from work or in relationships.
Defining and Identifying Personal Values
Defining our values is like self-exploration. You get to understand your major goals, what’s important to you, and the life trajectory you would like to see yourself go on. To do so, follow these simple steps:
- Identify the times when you were happiest
- Identify the times when you were most proud
- Identify the times when you were most fulfilled and satisfied
- Determine your top values, based on your experiences of happiness, pride, and fulfillment
- Prioritize your top values
- Reaffirm your values
It is possible and even probable that your values will change throughout your life. Some of your core values will remain with you while others will change as you get new insights, opportunities, and experiences.
Even if your values stay the same, their order of priority may change. When you are young, you are more likely to prioritize risk-taking or creativity. As you get older and start a family, you may begin to value security and fiscal stability.
At least once a year, reread your values. If you feel a value no longer represents your goals and vision, revise your priorities.
“The true perfection of man lies not in what man has, but in what man is.”
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Set Goals based on Your Values
Are currently living by your values? Does your career align with your values? Does the time you are spending on daily activities reflect the values you outlined for yourself? If not, you need to consider whether your values are real or must be updated.
Look back on the value list you created and resolve to live to the values you have chosen for yourself. Or brainstorm a revised set of values. Then commit to them and move forward.
Make Decisions According to Your Values
Do your current decisions align with your values? If not, decide what is missing and get them aligned and start using them immediately. Review your value list each day and determine how you can make decisions based on them. Determine ways you could have decided differently and if you make a decision that goes against them vow to not let that happen again.
These steps seem simple enough.
Yet people still struggle to implement and live their personal values. This may because of the potential for conflict with their family, friends or co-workers.
Your situation may limit your pursuit of your values. For instance, you could value leadership, but you are placed in a junior position because of your age and lack of experience. Do not despair. Sometimes, compromises will be necessary to get to where you want to be.
In that case, create a caveat to your values, such as I will gain the things necessary to warrant my promotion to a position of leadership. Then, fight for change on behalf of your values, and focus on your own decisions without causing conflict with your peers.
You need to trust in yourself and the values you have established. Do not constantly challenge them or you will never truly set values you can live by. You will be in a constant state of flux and never establish any real values to live by. Be content with who you are, what you have decided, and get rid of one more thing that Keeps You Awake at Night.