I read a lot, mostly non fiction and unsurprisingly mostly aimed at development. I consistently find some ‘themes’ that appear in those that are walking the walk.
My last post touched on ‘Beliefs’ and how they can impact us….taking this theme deeper and understanding a little about emotional ties and core directional drivers we may have around those beliefs….we need to explore our ‘Values’
I have seen similar articles below and great exercises like this one to help you define your values, to keep it simple. You just need to stop for a minute, ask yourself “what are my values?”…..and allow yourself to reflect on what they are.
Does life overwhelm you? Do you spend so much time taking care of everybody else, that you forget to take care of yourself? Do you have trouble making confident decisions? Are you marching to your own drum or someone elses’. Identifying and prioritizing your personal values may be the key to living the life you desire.
If you want to create a happier work environment, or more joyful life in general, then it’s important to understand the ‘value of values’ and how they can be your compass to keep you moving in a direction that makes you clearer on what’s important to you, happier, and better at decision making when it comes, not only to your job, but all aspects of your life.
It’s challenging to make decisions when you don’t know what’s significant to you. Too often we act in response to what others like or expect from us. That’s where values come in, because they’re all about you and no one else. Clear values allow you to make consistent decisions and take committed action.
Without them you can drift off course and be marching to the beat of someone elses’ drum such as your boss, spouse, parents or children.
Values are the foundation of creating a fulfilling life I’m going to take you through a 4 step process to identify, prioritize and apply your values.
** Definition of Values **
Firstly we need to define what values are.
Values are what are important, valuable or desirable to you and they guide your behaviors and decisions and are the motivation behind your actions.
Living in alignment with your values creates joy, fulfillment and sense of personal satisfaction. If your life is not values aligned you may experience stress, unhappiness and hopelessness.
Each person has a value system which may be influenced by their background or life philosophy. Many of us develop values during our childhood. And, you may not hold the same values throughout your lifetime, I know I didn’t.
I know that ‘security’ was a work value I adopted from my parents. They believed you had to work hard and have a full-time job in order to be successful.
They also told me I should stick with a job even though I hated it, so their value of ‘persistence’ often meant I stayed in unhealthy work situations longer than I should have instead of taking steps towards making positive changes that would have made me happier at work.
Now I’m not saying if you feel sad for a second, jump ship. Of course challenges and roadblocks come up and you can maneuver your way through them. The point is, if things are consistently crap you need to do something other than complain. And there may be time when you question if a long held value still works for you.
As I got older a value arose within me that made me question ‘security’ and ‘persistence’ – and that was my desire for ‘freedom’.
It took me years, but I finally realized that I was acting on what was important to my parents, not what was important to me.
I changed my beliefs to support my values and now choose part-time and self-employment based on residual income. That means I’m rarely trading time for money and I have the flexibility to work when and where I want.
Simply, I chose freedom. I have about 10 values that drive this stage of my life. They include: Joy, Freedom, Success, Making a difference, Abundance, Love, Gratitude, Positive Attitude, Awareness and Balance.
As you can see, there’s not a ‘security’ or ‘persistence’ in sight.
That’s the beauty of making new choices, you can change your situation at any given moment. And don’t forget to question, “Whose values are these anyway?”
I hope you’re now clear on what values are. The main thing is, you’ve got to understand what’s important to you. It’s time to identify your values so you can make clear, confident and consistent decisions.
OK, let’s take action.
** Step 1 – Determining your Values **
There are hundreds of values to choose from including: Acceptance, Adventure, Ambition, Benevolence, Comfort, Dignity, Education, Family, Growth, Honesty, Kindness, Love, Open-mindedness, Peace, Power, Reliability, Sincerity, Trust, Vision, Wealth.
Anyway, you get the idea. Go through the list and select which ones are important to you an add your own.
** Step 2 – Prioritize ** Now we’re going to prioritize your values in order of importance. Priority is just as important as selecting the values, here’s why: Let’s say you and I have the same three values:
– Family – Abundance – Success
When I prioritized my values I had:
– Success – Abundance – Family
And you had:
– Family – Abundance – Success
If we had a mutual manager who asked us both to work over the weekend which one of us would be more likely to do it?
I would. Because although success is one of your values it’s not as important as family so you’d prioritize spending time with your loved ones over work. So prioritization is an important and often forgotten part, when determining your values.
** Step 3 – Assess your Values Against Your Life
We’ll continue with the work theme. This process usually uncovers the reasons why you’re not happy in your current circumstances. Let’s go back to our example where we identified and prioritized Family, Abundance and Success as our chosen values.
Imagine you work in the mail room of a large advertising agency. You took the role because you believed you could get your foot in the door, start at the bottom and work your way up.
But you’re beginning to become discouraged by the fact that it has been two years, and despite the company’s promises there is no promotion in site.
Plus, your wife just had a baby and you’re committed to your young family. Whereas the firm is committed to corporate drinks after work and you feel like you’ll never get the promotion if you don’t take advantage of the after hours networking.
If your values are: family, abundance and success how do you think you’d feel in this job?
Firstly, you’re not seeing your family that much because of your perceived need to network. You feel like you’re missing out on valuable time with your baby because she’s asleep when you get home and you only seem to get weekend time.
You’re still in your entry level position, so you’re not making that much money, so your value of abundance is out the window.
There are also no promotions on the horizon so your success value isn’t being fulfilled either. It’s my guess you’re beginning to feel a little hopeless and dissatisfied with your role.
But here’s the great part – everything can change my making different choices. But before we discuss that I want to emphasize how important it is to align your values with the organization you’re working for as it will make you happier and minimize inner conflict.
For example if you value ‘integrity’ and the company you work for is misrepresenting its success to their shareholders you may struggle with guilt and resentment.
If you are values aligned with your organization you will discover a natural enthusiasm, a sense of personal satisfaction and a feeling of purpose – the exact attributes which contribute to success and happiness.
If you and your organization’s values couldn’t be further apart, don’t worry, as I said earlier you can always make a different choice and that’s what we do in Step 4.
** Step 4 – Embracing Change **
This step focuses on what you can change in regards to your attitude, behavior and / or environment in the short, medium and long term to get out of the rut. Let’s take our mail room worker and look at short-term solutions to shift his situation.
Firstly, his *attitude* – he will consider work to be work, and done within work hours, his family is the priority from 6pm onwards.
He is going to *behave* proactively – he has set a meeting with his manager to ask what he needs to do in order to get a promotion. And if he does that, when he can expect the next opportunity to arise. After that discussion he will at least be clearer on his position.
And now we look at his *environment* – he can look for opportunities outside the mail room and offer to do projects for other departments to show enthusiasm and increase his profile.
Now, if none of the above works he can go into a medium – long term strategy of finding a new role.
Taking action is empowering whereas remaining idle just reinforces how stuck you feel in your unpalatable situation.
Committing to making changes allows you to feel that you are in the driver’s seat of life, not a passive passenger.
Remember, “Nothing changes if nothing changes, and if I keep doing what I’ve always done, I’ll keep getting what I’ve always got, and will keep feeling what I always felt.”
Madison Harper who posted this back in 2009 is a career coach. She finds using this technique invaluable when helping her clients find what they truly want….she then helps them go get it!
Applying you….follows a similar approach!