Values are our roadmap. They define what we believe is important for our work and our lives. They determine our priorities from an endless to-do list. Values are individual, inner guidelines for our decisions and actions.
We all have values, whether we acknowledge them or not. Life is much smoother when we make an effort to recognize our values, refine them if needed and make choices which respect them.
If we are not clear on our values, our decisions are difficult and confusing based on changing external factors rather than on more stable internal principles.
Values are at the core of how we experience our lives. When what we do matches our values, life is good. We feel satisfied and content. When our actions don’t match our values, life is not so good. We feel unhappy and restless.
For example, if you value innovation and you work within a rigid, traditional company culture, how likely are you to feel enthusiastic about your future? If you value family and work/life balance and travel every other week on sales calls, how much internal stress can you tolerate before you reach burnout?
It’s interesting to note that not all values are positive. We may uncover negative values we didn’t realize we had. We could realize that we value different types of “distraction” because it feels good to not deal with an otherwise painful situation. This can feel satisfying in the short term until we understand how valuing distraction creates a deeper conflict as it does not align with a goal to overcome that very same painful challenge.
When we are clear on our positive values and their impact for us, we automatically create goals that are in alignment with what we want for our highest potential rather than what others want for us. A values based life is our personal, internal compass for better choices that will serve us for the long term.
When we know our values, life becomes easier and more productive, our actions are more effective. We become role models and give permission for others to the same. A values based life is a life lived on our terms.
What could you gain by focusing attention on your values today?