As Roy E. Disney said, “When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” (Source) Indeed. My experience has been that every aspect of life becomes easier and so much clearer. When you want to have it all, uncovering your values is an integral preliminary step to create your all.
Values are a lot like tree roots. They’ve been there since the beginning, they hold you steady when the wind howls, and they provide you with ongoing nourishment. It’s totally fine to go through life being unaware of your values; however, I’ve found that knowing my values and making decisions based on them has made life richer, meaningful, and fulfilling.
Before getting started – important things to remember about values
They’re unique to you. Even a value like “family” means different things to different people.
Different values are more important at different stages of your life. For example, independence was so important to me as a teen. I grew up far enough up a mountainside outside of town that if I wanted to go anywhere, I usually needed to ask someone for a ride. Getting my driver’s license was nirvana. Now that independence is built into my life, it’s much less prominent.
They’re already part of you. When you unearth your values, you’ll simply become conscious of them.
Now the fun part – exploring your values
Think of these scenarios and questions as a starting point to uncovering and identifying your values.
1. Think of a time where you felt on top of the world. What happened? What made it so amazing? What values did you experience? Why were they important? What does having that value do for you? And if you were to dive even deeper, what would that value give you?
For example, I feel on top of the world when I’m visiting my family. I will usually experience laughter, fun, togetherness, belonging, and joy. If I dive even deeper, these feelings give me a sense of connectedness and peace.
2. What things make you angry? If you don’t tend to get angry, think about a time where you were irritated or upset.
We tend to experience strong negative emotions when one or more of our values are violated. Examine what happened. Why were you upset? What would you rather have happened? And when you dig deeper, what would that give you?
For example, I get inflamed when someone makes me feel stupid or incompetent. (It will usually be done unintentionally.) This violates my sense of intelligence and respect. Digging deeper, these give me acceptance.
3. Imagine yourself at 90. What one message would you want to tell yourself today? Why is that important? Going even deeper, what would that give you?
For example, I would tell myself to reach even higher and not underestimate myself. This is important because once I get over my fear (gasp!), I will realize that I am capable of extraordinary things. Going even deeper, this will give me a sense of accomplishment, contribution, and connectedness.
How to know when you’ve found a value
You’ll just know. It’s a feeling and you probably won’t be able to explain it.
Incorporating values into your day-to-day
I have listed my values and posted them on a wall in my office. It’s great to look at them, reflect on them, and check in with myself every once in a while to ensure I live my all by the values that are most important to me. I encourage you to do the same.
I’m curious! What values did you uncover? How do you plan to live by your values? Click here to share.