Why Our Personal Values Matter More Than Ever Today

Why Our Personal Values Matter More Than Ever Today
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What’s important to you? Your morning coffee? Making time to walk your dog? Getting that assignment to your boss on time? Okay, but what’s valuable to you?

According to Atlantic Magazine, 7 out of 10 Americans say people’s have been getting worse in America over the past decade.[1] What are your values?

What Are Values?

Your values are a testament to your true self, because they are what most to you when it comes to personal and professional life.

Your values influence that little voice in your head that tells you whether or not to care about something, and how you should prioritize your time.

Your values are the things that you believe are in important in the way you live and work.[2]

Your core values help determine what you truly want out of life, while simultaneously acting as the measuring stick you use to tell if you’re satisfied with your current situation and living in a meaningful way.

Core values define who we are while helping us find our purpose. Here’re a few good examples of the core value words:[3]

  • Reliability
  • Dependable
  • Respectful
  • Loyal
  • Committed
  • Teamwork
  • Caring
  • Adventuros
  • Efficient
  • Listening
  • Diversity
  • Humility

Some of these values are instilled in you from childhood. They can be cultural or learned through watching your family and hearing their discussions about things they’re passionate about.

Perhaps now, in adulthood, you realize you’re passionate about those same things. It’s not a bad thing to share core values with those around you, but it can be detrimental to live a life that doesn’t honor those values.

How Do Core Values Affect Our Day-to-day Decisions?

We make decisions based on our values every day, but we sometimes forget about the important decisions we face, big and small, and the potential stress those choices can create.

When you can identify your values and make choices that align with them, life suddenly becomes a little easier. But when you’re running on autopilot and not allowing your values to coincide with your choices, you can find yourself becoming incredibly unhappy, and maybe you don’t know why.

Discovering your core values don’t help with huge aspects alone, they also impact seemingly small things, too. Remember that thing you bought that you didn’t really need, but you just felt like having? You made the decision that spending money wisely was not valuable to you. But is that truly how you feel? Now it’s the end of the month and bills are due. Perhaps it would be really helpful to have that money back, so it’s created stress. That disconnect stems from living a life that doesn’t correlate with your core values.

When you begin to make those choices that seem small at the time knowing what you find valuable, you begin to feel less stress in other aspects of your life. This has a snowball effect, and leads to continued better choices and prolonged stress-free existence. And the best part is, there’s no hard work needed, just some introspection and self-awareness. And if simply sitting alone for a few minutes could impact the rest of your life in a positive way, wouldn’t it be worth it? After all, knowing your values make important decisions, like accepting a job, starting a business, or making a big change, much easier.

How Do We Find Out Our Personal Core Values?

Core values are so important to us that we should figure out the things which matter to us most for a better life. Here’re two ways to help to find out your personal core values:

Start with what you already know about yourself; your morals.

Knowing your core values can certainly sync up with your morals. After all, your values have a direct impact on your standards of behavior.

Think about it: if it is morally important to you to arrive at your workplace and focus on nothing but work on company time, it will also be true that being an honest and efficient employee is a value you carry to every job you occupy.

Maybe you’re the kind of partner who puts their phone away when on a date. This probably means you are a morally loyal person and want to ensure your partner knows you value time with them. This is a strong indication that, as a core value, you put relationships first and work hard to show people you care. You could easily list respect and commitment to your list of personal core values.

Your own experience will be your best tool in realizing what’s valuable to you.

For instance, think back to a time you were the happiest. Why were you so happy? Was the fulfilment you felt due to other people? Who were they? Think about when you were proud of yourself, and why you felt that pride. Your own experiences can shine great light on what you hold important.

And don’t be afraid to look ahead; what values do you want to exemplify to your children? If you want others to value it, it’s valuable to you.

What Should I Do With My Core Values?

Just sit down and make a list of what comes to mind, and let yourself explore those core values words. There is no set limit on how many values you can have, but allow yourself to list as many as you can.

Prioritize Your Values

If you wind up with 20 words, consider crossing out those that barely made the list and prioritize your values.

Personal development blogger Steve Pavlina suggested identifying the top value, then the second highest value, and so on until you’ve rebuilt the list in order of priority from the top to the bottom.[4] As you’re trying to prioritize the values, have this question at the back of your mind: if I have to choose from these, which one go first and which one I can live without?

Some of the words may easily float to the top, where as others might stump you. Allow that to happen and accept that it aids in teaching you who you are.

Look To Your Values Every Day

Once you’ve determined what your values are, it’s vital to look to them every day. We all face challenging situations and decisions, and Sam Whittaker put it best when he wrote,[5]

All [people] are thrust into tough situations from time to time…situations where the right thing to do isn’t obvious. Knowing which values are most important to you before these situations arise will help make you make better decisions.

So, let your values be valuable to you. Everyone is on their own path, and no one can tell you what your core values are but you.

Don’t Be Afraid To Rework Your List In Future

When you realize your values and begin to live by them, you may find that not all of them are as important as you believed. Rework your list! You’re allowed to consciously change your values over and over again.

You are not your values. You are the thinker of your thoughts, but you are not the thoughts themselves. Your values are your current compass, but they aren’t the real you.[6]

Remember: Your values should aid in creating your best life, and your most authentic self. You make the rules. Be patient with yourself and dedicate the time to discovering your core values. You’ll be amazed at the things you can accomplish.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] The Atlantic: 21 Charts That Explain American Values Today
[2] MindTools: What Are Your Values?
[3] ContentSparks: Big List of Core Value Words
[4] Steve Pavlina: Living Your Values Part 1
[5] Sam Whittaker: How to Define Your Personal Values
[6] Steve Pavlina: Living Your Values Part 1

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