You may be someone who already knows exactly what your values are, alternatively you might be someone who has absolutely no idea what your values are... but the reality of it is, we all have values we live our lives by wether we are aware of them or not. Often our values aren't even decided by ourselves but passed down from our parents and their parents before them. Sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes this is a bad thing because we didn't choose it. and thats what this exercise is about. its about choosing.
Can you change your values?
And the simple answer is yes, you can change your values. and they have probably changed through the course of your life. I doubt that you have the same values you did when you were 6 years old. I valued eating cake when I was a child, if I still had them values I'd probably eat cake for breakfast every day but now I have the knowledge about how that would effect my health so I decided that I will only have cake for breakfast the day after my birthday. Yep, you heard that right, once a year I give into my inner child and have cake for breakfast but if you scroll to the bottom and see my values you'll see that is technically in line with my values.
The thing we're aiming for here is living on purpose and by figuring out what your values are/ what you want them to be so you can make sure you're living your life in line with the values you choose.
Think of your values as your North Star, always there to guide you when you have a decision to make. When faced with questions such as "Should I change my career?" you can look to your values and think, does this new career line up with my values, with the life I am creating for myself? If so do it, if not it may be tome for a rethink.
The exercise - Time to put this into practice
This exercise requires you to be open and honest with yourself. Take your time, step away, come back, give yourself time to process.
Step 1: Brainstorm on this question: "What's important to me in life?"
Write down anything and everything that pops into your mind. You might notice that some of these can be grouped together
When thinking about this you may want to think about each area of your life:
- Friends and Family
- Physical Environment
- Health & Wellbeing
If you're stuck down to see a list of values to help spark some ideas. I have also shared my values and process below.
Step 2: Narrow down the list to a top 5 - 10, grouping and combining words together(e.g. honesty, trust, loyalty). Make sure to put the most important words at the front.
Step 3: Review each item and ask, "What does that give me?" until you get to a value. For example, travel could be adventure or learning, colour could be fun or beauty, and food could be community.
Step 4: Now prioritise your values by placing the most important value at the top and the least important at the bottom.
If you're stuck here is a list of values. Start by highlighting all the ones that resonate with you then see if any of them are similar and can be grouped together.
Improvement (commitment to lifelong learning)
Laura's Top Values:
Health & Wellbeing - I moved this one up to the top because without my health I cannot do anything else in life.
Love & Connection - Friends, family, all other humans. I value deep connections with people.
Improvement & Curiosity - Commitment to life long learning, never settling for less than and always being curious.
Acceptance & Gratitude- Acceptance has been in my top values list for years and only in the past few years have I seen it as self acceptance and changed my life when i stopped trying to be like others. Being grateful for everything as it is.
Freedom - freedom to me means being able to live the way I want to live.
Adventure & Fun - I'm a playful person who seeks out fun and adventure even in day to day life. I had to learn self acceptance before I allowed myself to honour this value.
Contribution & Service - Helping people is a long standing value of mine.
Wealth - I was hesitant to add this one to my list but a bit like health, its difficult to do the rest of the stuff if you are struggling for money ie. no freedom without money.
Knowing my values better equips me to make decisions. Whenever I have a decision to make I ask myself "Is it in line with my values?"
Now its your turn. Find out your values from doing this exercise then think how you will make sure you live your life in line with them.