Values are key to all aspects of life. They define what people achieve and how they achieve it. If you don’t live by your values, you risk being dissatisfied with what you’ve achieved and how you’ve performed.
Being in tune with your values will make sure you move forward with confidence and integrity. The sooner you make the decision to live by your values, the better: your life will become more meaningful and more fulfilling.
When you’re in touch with your values, you’re more successful at making important decisions about every aspect of your life. You can decide to launch a start-up, pursue another form of employment, compromise with a position, and more. If the decision is in line with your values, you’ll be confident you’ve made the best one.
It pays off to choose your values and to live by them. Of course, that’s easier said than done. When we act in conflict with our values, we tend to perform sub-optimally, even suffer.
This article presents 10 ways to close any gaps between actual and desired behaviour.
Define your values
This is the obvious first step. You need to establish what’s important to you as you define your personal values. Looking at past experiences might help.
Think about a time you felt confident about making the right choice or a time when you felt really good about yourself and the situation you were in.
Think back to a time when you were very happy. It can be related to an event in your personal or professional life. This will offer some balance.
Remember what you were doing and if you were with other people or other factors contributed to your joy.
When was a time you felt satisfied or fulfilled? Again, it can be related to work or your personal life. What desire or need was fulfilled? How did the event lend meaning to your life? Were there any other factors contributing to the feeling of satisfaction or fulfilment?
Try to understand how and why the experience was meaningful.
Alternatively, think back to a time when you felt proud of something you had achieved. Why were you proud and what were you proud of? What factors contributed to your feelings? Remember if someone else shared your pride and, if so, who.
Choose authentic values
There are no right or wrong values, just individual ones. Don’t choose a value just because it seems worthy or appropriate. Don’t adopt values someone else imposes on you, especially the media. They focus on things like status, money, power, and beauty, which don’t give life meaning in and of themselves.
A lot of people achieve these things and remain unhappy because they are not doing anything that feels meaningful. They seek admiration and attention and never seem to get enough. Those who truly thrive focus on meaningful and authentic personal or professional growth.
Take what’s best for your needs into account. Many people adopt values instilled in them by society, friends, or parents. Your values must truly be your own if you want to align with them.
Self-acceptance is an integral part of the process of aligning with values. Your emotional intelligence will help you consider your values objectively. You will accept them without judgment.
It will help to weigh different aspects of life, such as family, intimate or social relationships, work, learning, spirituality, and health. Consider how each of these aspects aligns with your values.
When performing an activity, ask yourself how it makes you feel. Don’t do it mechanically. Try to answer why it makes you feel a certain way. If something makes you feel fulfilled and happy, it aligns with your values. If it makes you sad or stressed, then it doesn’t.
Write down your top values
Remember your top two or three values and ask yourself which you’d choose if you could live by just one. Imagine a situation where you’d have to make this decision. If you had to choose between financial stability and family, you’d consider the benefits of working 70 hours a week vs. making less money, but spending more time with loved ones.
Now that you’ve ranked your top two or three values, add new ones to the list and compare them. Eventually, you’ll have a full list in the right order.
If you find yourself struggling, choose between two options and assign a numeric value to each. Then, compare the numbers, for example 6 and 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. It’s definitely worth investing time in this because identifying and prioritizing your values is crucial.
Prioritize top values
Now that you know what’s most important to you, think about your top values actively. This isn’t easy because you’ll have to choose between aspects that might fulfil different values. Most decisions in life involve establishing what you value most. Being able to rely on your values is comforting and helpful at times when a lot of options seem feasible. They guide you in the right direction.
Actions that align with your values need to be given top priority. The urgency of a matter often bears no relation to its importance. After you recognize the actions or behaviours that are most fulfilling to you, follow up on this by creating an action plan involving such activities. This will bring you closer to the real you.
Look at your top priority values and ask yourself a few questions. Are you proud of them? Do they make you feel positive? Would you be comfortable sharing them with people you admire and respect? Are they related to things you would support, even if you’d be going against the grain?
It’s no coincidence that we turn so much attention to establishing values. All too often, people live by values that aren’t truly their own. If you’re going by the wrong values for you, remembering and aligning with them makes precious little sense.
When you think about your values when making a decision, you can approach the process with clarity and confidence, keeping your sense of integrity intact. You will also know what’s right and what you’re doing is best for your present and future fulfilment and happiness.
While it’s no simple matter to make a choice based on value, making the right one turns out easier in the long run.
You can change your mind
Be open to change. You’re not the same person you were last year or maybe even last week. As we change, so do our values. Don’t hold on to any value obsessively – you risk impeding your natural development.
When we act in alignment with our values, we live without regret. Life is more meaningful when actions match values. You will feel like things are developing naturally and decision-making will probably become easier.
There is an additional advantage: you will inspire other people’s trust, respect, and confidence when they see you living by your values.
Be aware of your values
As most core values are a single word, you can put them in different places so you’re constantly aware of them. They can be on your screensaver, post-it notes on the fridge or mirror, or anywhere else in your home or office and line of sight. That way, they will always be in your mind.
When core values build an integral component of your dialogue, they take on new life. You can always find an opportunity to express them, even in casual conversation. You won’t need to remind yourself of your values when you make them part of your everyday and normal vocabulary.
Share them with friends and family
When you discuss them, their importance grows. Share your values with your partner or your closest friend. Use them to describe your behaviour, thoughts, and feelings. For example, the value of Truth is essential in personal relationships. A deep discussion will help values settle into your heart and mind comfortably.
On the note of personal relationships, make sure only the right people are in your life. Managing your company is the most effective way to use core values. While not everyone has to share your top priority values, those closest to you must fit them.
If honesty is a core value of yours, the people in your life must appreciate it. That’s not to say you should expect them to be honest with you 100% of the time. If you’re with someone who’s always lying to you, on the other hand, it paints a pretty bleak picture of the relationship.
One thing we don’t have enough of is time. You should use your top priority values to make sure you’re devoting time only to those who deserve it.
Values are great filters for decision-making. When (and if) you make a list of your daily tasks, values can help assess whether you’re doing the right things in the right order. If efficiency is one of your top values, check if the tasks you give priority to meet this value. In other words, are you achieving the maximum with minimal effort?
Your daily tasks should be consistent with your values because they embody who you are. Your day will be marked by efficiency and effectiveness.
At bedtime, evaluate how your day went. If it didn’t go as well as you hoped, you must have done something that misaligned with a core value. If you value diligence, for example, examine your day to see where you strayed from the right path.
There’s always something we can improve upon. Think about the better alternative and see how you can do things more efficiently or effectively. There’s no need to feel down. You will grow as a person when you begin enjoying the benefits of living by your real values.
Personal values help set us on the path to success. Look at every goal and opportunity through the lens of your core values. If not, there’s unnecessary struggle and self-conflict in your life.
Once every two weeks, devote a day to strategic planning. Consider how your core values and life objectives align. If they fit together, you can work to achieve fantastic things.
Daily challenges might lead you to deviate from our values. You must fight this. It’s all too tempting to take the easy way out when faced with continuing and difficult problems. Sticking to your values is sure to result in greater achievement and satisfaction. If nothing else, it’s rewarding to know that you are someone of integrity.
Modern life pushes us away from our values with all its calls to action, pressures, and demands. Values become goals to aspire to and a basis for a meaningful life when you grasp how important it is to align with firm, well-thought-out ones and begin doing it.