“When I am trusting and being myself as fully as possible, everything in my life reflects this by falling into place easily, often miraculously.”
You navigate your days and challenges with the map composed of the experiences and beliefs that you’ve acquired over your lifetime. Some beliefs are held deeply within you, while others are instilled by your upbringing, those around you, your environment and culture. Every decision you make is affected consciously or unconsciously, by what you value. What’s really important to you guides you in making important choices as well as minor ones; shaping who you are in your world. Values are the landmarks that tell you where you are, help you to know you want, what you don’t want, what you enjoy doing and what you feel strongly about.
Your values evolve over time. What is important to you now is different from when you were a teenager. As you age and your life situation changes – different jobs, children starting school, having to home-school in a pandemic, variations in your health or wellbeing or that of those around you – your values will change too. This means that the ways in which you react to news, situations or other triggers will change.
Where are Your Values?
Let’s think about values as relating to four different areas of your life – the whole world or the closer world of your community; your work or job or volunteering role; your relationships with those around you – family, friends, neighbours and colleagues and finally things that are important for you. Of course all these areas intersect. There may be elements that are important to you across more than one area – so for me having freedom to choose is a core value across all of these areas. You might also see that there could be conflicting values. I really value travelling for my work, but I also value getting into the mountains and can see the damage done there by climate change. There are no universal rules to apply in choosing values that are important to you – we’re all different. What’s important is knowing what’s important to you and how these values influence the ways in which you think, feel, act, react and interact with the world and those around you.
- World/community – this extends from your street and neighbours, on to your village or town, teams you may support or be involved in, and on again to your country, continent and the global environment of mountains and oceans.
- Work – this is what you love to do, or what you must do to pay the bills; it covers activities for which you are paid, volunteering or being an intern for which you are usually not paid, as well as studying or carrying out research or field work.
- Relationships – this means connections with people, anyone around you, from your partner and family, to your neighbours, colleagues and friends. It may include those you have never met, but just connected with via the internet, such as colleagues from other countries, as well as those you know well personally such as your hairdresser, physio or babysitter.
- Yourself – this is you! You as a physical, spiritual, creative, developing, growing, delighting human presence.
Take some time to think about these four areas in your life, how they overlap and where you might feel any conflict.
What do You Value?
What really matters to YOU now, in this moment, this season, this year, this stage of your life, this lifetime? What’s always been important to you? What are the things that you value?
Grab a large sheet of paper and divide it into three columns. Write the four areas in the left hand column – world/community, work, relationships and yourself. At the top of the middle column write “I MUST have” and at the top of the right hand column put “I would like to have”. For each of the four value areas, write down what you must have and what you would like to have.
Here are a few thoughts to get you started, from my own list:
For the world/community:
- litter being cleared from the park
- peace across war zones
- everyone with access to clean water and adequate sanitation
- equality for all
- challenge and interest
- work that helps people to grow
- helping women to develop
In your relationships:
- shared sense of humour
- someone special for me
- to be valued for what and who I am
- support in bad times
- time and space for creativity
- being outside in nature
- experimentation with life
- good health and fitness
- time to write.
Now take some time to fill in the columns with what’s really important to you.
Why are Values so Important?
When you are living your values you have more energy and everything feels more ‘right’. If your important values are not being met in your life, you can feel generally dissatisfied, have ongoing irritations and niggles, and feel that life isn’t really delivering on what you really want or expected. Life feels more of a struggle and less flowing.
When your values are being met, you’ll feel good about yourself and your life. On your sheet, tick your values that are being met at the moment. If you have values in the “I MUST have” section which aren’t being met, this can give you ideas about what goals you may choose to work towards and what you might need to change in your life, for more happiness, energy and satisfaction.
- How do you feel about values that are being met?
- How do you feel about your unfulfilled values?
- Which of these do you want to do something about?
- What will you do?
If you were to choose just 5 words which encapsulate your values, boiling them down to their very essence, what would those 5 words be? Write them down. You can use these words to measure your decisions in the future by asking yourself a question, such as:
“Would this decision make my life … (insert your five words)?”
My 5 words are freedom, choice, creativity, variety and environment. I might ask “Will this decision give me the freedom, choice, creativity and variety I want, without affecting the environment?”
If getting clear on your values is something with which you need help, then do get in touch and we can arrange a 121 coaching session.