5 Steps to Discover Your ValuesMar 29, 2023
Are you aware of your values? What truly matters to you? And why do things matter?
Our personal values are at the core of our ethics. They are beliefs, principles, or standards that we find important and meaningful in our lives.
These values are unique to each individual and are shaped by various factors such as upbringing, culture, religion, education, and life experiences. They shape our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Understanding personal values is essential because it helps you understand and give you awareness of how you make decisions. Your values can reveal the 'why' that motivates your behaviours and give you deep insights about yourself.
Understanding personal values is essential because it helps us make better decisions, navigate life's challenges, and lead a more fulfilling life.
Understanding personal values helps us live by them
Understanding our personal values is crucial in helping us live by them because it allows us to align our decisions and actions with our beliefs and principles. Your awareness of what you value and matters help you make better decisions.
When we know what is important to us and what we stand for, we can make choices consistent with our values, leading to a more authentic and fulfilling life.
Values design the trans-situational context for setting goals.
Values are the foundation for setting goals because they provide a trans-situational context that guides decision-making and action across different contexts and situations. Personal values are enduring beliefs and principles that individuals hold as important and meaningful, and they influence our attitudes and behaviours in various areas of life.
When we set goals that align with our values, we are more likely to feel motivated, committed, and fulfilled.
Personal values shape our life purpose.
Personal values play an essential role in shaping our life purpose. Life purpose refers to a deep sense of meaning and direction that guides our choices and actions towards a fulfilling and meaningful life. When we understand our personal values, we can use them to clarify our life purpose and shape the path towards achieving it.
That is why those with different values choose different purposes. One may decide to shop strictly recyclable, another dedicate 60 hours per week to career goals, and yet another open an animal shelter.
Acknowledging our personal values tells us why we behave the way we behave.
Finding the values you hold dear is a self-reflection exercise. Those around you may do the guesswork about your values by evaluating your behaviour. However, personal values are so subjective that no one else but you knows what lies deep in your heart and mind.
Personal values provide a sense of coherence and meaning to our life experiences. By living in alignment with our values, we can create a sense of coherence and unity in our actions, thoughts, and feelings, and this can help us develop a sense of purpose and fulfilment. Identifying our personal values can be challenging, as they are often unconscious, implicit, and influenced by social and cultural factors.
Here's how you can find your values based on research:
Self-reflection is a valuable tool for identifying personal values. Take time to reflect on what's important to you, what motivates you, what brings you joy and fulfilment, and what you stand for. Reflect on your life experiences, successes, and failures and how they reflect your values. Ask yourself what values are most important to you and why.
2. Values assessment tools
Values assessment tools are widely used to identify personal values. These tools are designed to help individuals identify their core values by asking questions about what they consider important in life. Some popular values assessment tools include the Personal Values Assessment by Barrett Values Centre, the Personal Values Assessment by Life Values Inventory, and the Personal Values Assessment by Schwartz Value Survey.
3. Social and cultural factors
Personal values are influenced by social and cultural factors such as family, religion, education, and society. Examine the cultural and social contexts in which you were raised and how they may have shaped your values. Consider the values of your family, friends, and community and how they have influenced your values.
4. Behavioural indicators
Behavioural indicators can also help identify personal values. Consider the actions you take in different situations and how they reflect your values. For example, if you value honesty, you may tell the truth even when difficult. If you value courage, you may take risks and stand up for what you believe in.
5. Psychological research
Psychological research has identified several important universal values across cultures and societies. The theory of basic values by Shalom H. Schwartz defines ten core values that share a universal, cross-cultural dimension. These values include achievement, benevolence, conformity, hedonism, power, security, self-direction, stimulation, tradition, and universalism. Consider which values resonate with you and how they reflect your values.
This brings me to a very important point: the awareness of our values can promote the development of healthy boundaries, an essential ingredient for maintaining healthy relationships and preventing burnout. Boundaries help us communicate our needs, protect our time and energy, and establish a sense of safety and respect in our relationships.
However, many people struggle with setting and enforcing boundaries, often because they're unclear about their values. When we understand our values, we can align our boundaries with our values, making them more meaningful, authentic, and effective.
Here are some ways understanding our values can help us develop our boundaries:
1. Identify your non-negotiables
Values provide a framework for identifying our non-negotiables - the things we're unwilling to compromise on. When we're clear on our values, we can recognise when our boundaries are being crossed and take action to protect them. For example, if one of your values is respect, you may define how people speak to or treat you. If someone crosses that boundary, you can refer to your value of respect and communicate your needs accordingly.
2. Prioritise your time and energy
Values can help us prioritise our time and energy. When we know what's most important, we can make intentional choices about how we spend our time and with who we invest our energy in. This can help us avoid overcommitment, burnout, and resentment. For example, if one of your values is family, you may prioritise spending time with loved ones and set a boundary around work hours or social events that conflict with that value.
3. Communicate effectively
Values can help us communicate our boundaries effectively. Explaining our boundaries in terms of our values can help others understand why our boundaries are important and respect them. It can also help us communicate our boundaries without feeling guilty or defensive. For example, instead of saying "I can't do that," you might say, "I value my health and need to prioritise my self-care right now."
4. Build stronger relationships
Values can help us build stronger relationships by establishing a shared sense of purpose and respect. Understanding personal values can form boundaries by helping us identify what is important and what we are not willing to compromise. When we know our personal values, we can be assertive in communicating our needs and boundaries to others. This can help us establish healthy and respectful relationships. By communicating your boundaries, you made your non-negotiable clear to your partner and the value you want to uphold in the relationship. In other words, you're setting expectations for how you would like to be treated and what is acceptable behaviour in the relationship. If your partner does not respect this boundary, it may indicate that there is a lack of alignment because of the difference in your partner's and your values, which could lead to further conflict in the relationship due to compatibility issues.
Identifying personal values shapes our identity, attitudes, and behaviour. Self-reflection, values assessment tools, social and cultural factors, behavioural indicators, and psychological research can help identify personal values. By understanding our personal values, we can create a sense of direction and purpose in life and live in alignment with our deepest beliefs, principles, and aspirations.
The awareness of our values can be a powerful tool for developing healthy boundaries. It can help us identify non-negotiables, prioritise our time and energy, communicate effectively, and build stronger relationships.
Living according to our values can bring us a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction. When we live by our values, we feel like we are living an authentic life that is true to who we are, and this can bring us a sense of purpose and happiness.
With this, I wish you a happy, fulfilling and thriving life.