Living your life according to your values may mean discarding old values, beliefs, or ways of life that others have parted on you. Everyone lives their life by some sort of internalized moral code. However, many people don’t take the time to determine what they believe in.
Because of this, we often feel conflicted when deciding how to make regular choices about time, money, and personal decisions within our lives and our careers.
To sort through these conflicts and get to the bottom of what we truly value, there are several big questions we have to ask ourselves - and that work isn’t easy! This post, as well as the next couple of posts, will help you discover what’s in your mind and your heart.
I’ll be writing about how mindful strategies and other action steps can help you tune into your moral code and live a happier, more fulfilling life.
Step 1: Explore Your Values To Become the Best You
To start exploring your values, think back and identify a few peak moments when you felt yourself entirely and in your element.
Think of the people who were surrounding you, what setting you were in, what task you were completing, and what feelings you had.
Take notes describing these moments in detail. Your result should read like a story or diary entry.
Don't rush this first step. Take the time you need. This step will help you with the following actions to explore and clarify your values.
Step 2: Extract The Values From Your Exploration
Use your notes from the above step to decipher which values were being expressed and what made them unique to you.
One way to do this is to circle words or phrases within your descriptions. You can also craft some sort of chart, list, or Venn diagram - whatever makes sense to you. Your end goal is to come up with short phrases and sentences that extract the value of each experience.
If your original story was about spending time volunteering with children in the Boys and Girls Club, then perhaps you can extract that you value things like contributing to society, connection, coaching, or love.
Step 3: Identify Your Values With Simple Words
The next step is to revisit the extracted phrases and words from step 2, then consider this list of words (as well as any additional ones you want to add), and create a master list of 3 to 5 values that feel most ‘right’ for you.
Here is a list to help if you’re struggling: https://bit.ly/2pzygEf
One tip - make sure that as you’re creating your list, your values aren’t aspirational. In other words, your values shouldn’t relate to the values you WANT. They should reflect who you are.
Once this is complete, look back over what you have come up with and see what’s on your list.
Step 4: Define What Your Values Look Like
Look at your list and the words you chose from step 3, and write down some actions that define what it would mean to live by those values.
For example, if you value justice, actions might include speaking out about unfair treatment or seeking the opinion of underrepresented people around you. If you value contribution, an action might include volunteering once a week to help at the local food pantry.
This step is just about writing down what your values would look like in action. This step is not for planning or going out and doing those things. Right now, it is about clarifying and decision-making.
Step 5: A Question To Ask Yourself
Do your present actions reflect your values right now?
Choose a value and consider whether your actions reflect your values presently.
This is not the time to feel guilty about living against your values. Instead, this is your chance to gain some perspective and identify what stands to be improved.
For example, if one of your values is optimism, are you guilty of always worrying about the future?
More steps on living according to your values coming soon!