How do we determine what’s meaningful and successful in our lives? To a great extent, the media and culture negatively condition us to measure success based on societal norms. A true, authentic inner feeling of fulfillment comes from living in alignment with our values.
Knowing what my values are rather than what other people tell me they should be is very liberating. Are you ready to discover yours?
Importance of Values
You cannot talk about successful and meaningful lives without reflecting on the importance of values. Success is a measurement of achievement. How can you measure it if you haven’t defined it?
The tricky part is defining the values we actually have, rather than the values we wish we had. Aspiration is great, but often what we aspire to become always remains a future projection rather than a present reality.
The importance of individual values is that they provide a roadmap for life. Your life. Acknowledging and accepting your values will shift you from a path of self-deceit to a path of self-discovery.
5 Steps to Uncover Your Personal Values
Follow these steps to uncover your personal values:
Step 1: Clear Your Mind
Your conscious mind is biased from a lot of buzz and background noise. Take a few minutes to clear your mind, be present with yourself, and be curious without judgment of your thoughts. If you haven’t practiced Mindfulness Meditation, this is the perfect time to start.
When you’ve reached a quiet state, ask yourself a question such as: “What brings me joy?” Sometimes the answer will spontaneously arise. When an answer is not clear, you may envision different situations one at a time and observe how your body reacts. Be patient and kind with yourself.
Step 2: Observe How Your Body Feels
In a state of peace, observe how your body feels when you think about doing a specific task. How about a specific encounter? Or place? Is there tension in the mind or body? Does a feeling of dread wash over you? This may be an indication that your values are not aligned with those things.
On the contrary, a feeling of peace, openness, a small rush of energy, or contentment may signal that those things bide well with you.
The key here is to get the thinking mind out of the process so that we may get in direct contact with our core beliefs.
Step 3: Start Writing
Now you can get specific. Drawing from the above observations, write down the values that come to mind. You may find it helpful to speed write so that you can flow onto the page without pausing to make judgments about the content. It is important to keep the thinking mind out of this process as well because your conscious mind will be biased towards selecting values you should have, not ones that are an authentic part of your core. Here are some
questions to ask yourself if you’re struggling to envision the values that actually define you:
- What are you most proud of? Such memories reveal a value that was honored.
- In what situation were you very upset or angry? This may be an indication of what you do not value, or that you value the inverse of that.
- What is a must-have in your life? Whatever you can’t live without should become the most prioritized value that you focus on developing.
In your discovery of personal values, keep in mind that positive values are usually achieved internally, while negative values are often reliant on external forces. For example, work ethic (a positive value) is something that only you control, but people-pleasing (a negative value) depends on your valuation of how others feel about you.
Step 4: Determine the Hierarchy
Now that you’ve noted your core values, create groups of related elements. For example, healthy relationships, intimacy, community, and belonging can be grouped into a value called “personal connections.” After you create a few groups through this method, rank the importance of these values in a hierarchical order.
Step 5: Live Out Your Values
Our values are reflected in the way we choose to behave. So if personal relationships are your true authentic value with the highest priority, set actionable goals to be “successful” in your personal relationships. Remember to clearly define your measure for success. For example, plan weekly quality time with your loved ones and participate in community events. Check back in with yourself and your goals periodically to see how you are progressing.
Knowing and accepting what you value takes focused attention. AllBe offers an immersive Personal Mastery course where we dedicate a module to values. We explore transformative techniques, tools, and practices to help you live your absolute best version.
Join us for a shared journey of personal mastery here!