What ARE your values?
Wow – that’s a pretty deep question isn’t it?
We each have a set of ‘standards’ by which we judge ourselves and they influence how we live our lives. These are our ‘values’ – our ‘moral compass’ and they influence our attitude to life and the actions we take every day.
When we’re at work or we attend college, university or a religious, spiritual or hobby group, we often abide by a set of organisational, religious or group values. Some companies will have their ‘mission statement’ and their ‘organisational values’ clearly advertised around the workplace and on their websites etc. and in this way, the ‘standards’ are clear for everyone to see, recognise and understand.
However, when it comes to our ‘PERSONAL VALUES’, it may not be as clear either to ourselves or to others we come into contact with. We don’t carry a sign around that lets other people know what ‘values’ we live by and we often haven’t taken any time to think about what our core ‘values’ really are.
Having clarity on what your core values are can help you to:
Understand what drives you
Consider your options and make better choices
Live a happier and more fulfilled life that aligns with your core values.
You may be thinking – “Who cares…” at this point……… but the truth is, that even if you don’t realise it, your values are influencing your life on a daily basis!
If something isn’t working in your life, it may be because without realising it, there is a conflict between what you are spending your time doing and your personal values.
Imagine for a moment that one of your ‘core values’ is to spend quality time with your family.
BUT…. You work in a stressful job and work very long hours and then you have a long commute home and are often stuck in traffic so by the time you arrive home you are feeling tired and stressed and as you walk through the door, the kids are arguing and you find yourself ‘snapping’ at them…
In this example, How you are living life every day, doesn’t align with your core value of spending quality time with your family and may therefore leave you feeling frustrated and disillusioned or even depressed…
Let me give you another example…..
If one of your personal core values is to be ‘honest’…… Imagine that you go out one night with some colleagues and across the bar, you notice your best friends husband… just as you’re about to wave to attract his attention, he turns and kisses the woman at his side…. and then he suddenly catches your eye as your stare with disbelief… Shock, Horror!!
Oh yep – your personal ‘values’ are going to be tested…. What will you do?
- Stick to your personal value of ‘honesty’ and tell your friend exactly what you’ve discovered or
- Be persuaded by ‘him’ that this was just a stupid mistake and a ‘one off’ incident having had one too many drinks in the pub with a work colleague… it will never happen again scenario and if you tell your friend the ‘truth’, she will be devastated and it may break up the marriage…
A real test of your personal ‘honesty’ value…. and yet you don’t want to instigate the ‘break up’ of your friends marriage do you… tricky????
What about if you’re at work and you have a boss who will do anything to ‘close a deal’ even if it means lying to a customer… You feel what your being asked to do by your boss is dishonest…. it makes you feel very uncomfortable… – Yep, it’s breached one of your ‘personal values’…. But your team needs to achieve the ‘target’ to ensure they receive the monthly bonus…. and you know that ‘Bert’ is struggling to put food on the table for his very young family… they are on the breadline and he is relying on this month’s bonus and yet if you don’t manage to get this order, the bonus won’t be achieved…..
Another dilemma – What are you going to do?
Is your personal Team Value stronger than your Honesty Value? Oh dear a dilemma which leads you to feel worried and anxious – the internal voices debating -“What should I do?”
So – Are you really clear about what your PERSONAL Values are and which ones are critical to how you want to live your life?
If not, how will you know if they are being breached and causing conflict in your life?
If we travel through our life in a way that is aligned to our personal values, we are likely to feel much happier than if we are living life ‘out of sync’ with our values.
So is it time for you to ask yourself some questions about what your personal values are and to think about which are your ‘core values’ that you feel can’t be breached?
Here are some examples of values but these may or may not be important to you and there may be some others which you want to add:
Honesty Kindness Loyalty Having Fun Spending Time with family/lovers/friends Respect Achieving great wealth (either/both spiritual/financial wealth) Following a ‘faith’ or ‘developing spirituality’ Helping Others
ACTION: These are just a few ideas to get you started so now…
- Have a think about what words or phrases capture what you feel are your core values and show how you want to live your life.
- Write these words and phrases down.
- Narrow the list down to under 10 words/phrases, which you think are your ‘CORE’ values, by asking yourself if this is essential/critical to your life or whether it is a ‘nice to have’. Keep your ‘core value list’ to the essential values. (Having too many ‘core values’ listed can make it more difficult to make decisions)
- Use the list of words/phrases to write a short sentence/paragraph on what this value means to you. For example, if you’ve written down “spending quality time with the family” – what would this really mean? Describe it e.g. I work long hours through the week and spend every weekend with my family without the distraction of work or I get home every day in time to put the children to bed and read them a story.. Think about what ‘quality time with the family’ really means to you. Do the same for each of your ‘core values’.
By doing this exercise, you have greater clarity on what is important in your life and therefore you have something to cross reference against when you are making important decision and/or changes in your life.
You can also refer to your Core Value List to review areas of your life that you feel aren’t working and use this to develop an ‘improvement action plan’.
For example, if you are thinking of changing roles within an organisation or applying for a new job with a new company, remind yourself what your ‘core’ values are and check to see if these match up with the values of the company you are considering moving to or whether your core values align with the new job role you are considering.
If there are significant mis-matches in our personal values and the organisational values, the chances are that conflict between the two sets of differing values will arise. It’s easier to check ‘up front’ before you start a new job whether or not this will fit with your personal values, if you have clarified to yourself what they actually are!