I don’t like grocery shopping and I am sure I am not the only one! I therefore often shop on an ad-hoc basis and regularly hear myself saying ‘Oops! Need to get some milk’. Result: I do it in a hurry, mostly just before picking up our son from school.
I did it again, only last week. List in hand (at least I did that), I hurried down the supermarket aisles, paid up and dashed to the car, relieved that I was going to be on time, if only just. Later on however, as I was thinking of how much change I had received, I realised it had been too much. Indeed. Much too much. (I know, stupid of me not to have checked.) Grrr! The poor cashier would have a substantial deficit in her cash at the end of the day. Until I took the time to go back and settle it, it haunted me – I was not honouring one of my values – honesty.
Values represent what you stand for, who you are. They are ingrained and are part of your uniqueness. They are an important part of the foundations of ‘You’. Your values reflect what you believe is important in the way you live and work. They (should) guide you when you need to make choices in personal and professional situations. When they do, you feel in harmony, balanced and happy. This adds to your general feeling of well-being and fulfillment.
Not respecting your values, will make you feel uncomfortable, as I did, and perhaps even unhappy. Not living up to your values means not respecting yourself, who you are and what is important to you. If one of your values is family for instance and you are working 100 hours a week, there will hardly be time for your family. Thus, not honouring this value will generate a sense of frustration and dissatisfaction.
Values can also change along your path. At the beginning of your career, a significant value might be determination or success. If you decide to have children, the balance between family and work may become what you value most. Therefore, every so many years, it is beneficial to think about your values and if necessary realign your choices to them.
Do you know your core values?
I am sure you are nodding your head. Everyone knows their values, at least vaguely. And yet, making the list of your top values can be refreshing and stimulating.
One way to identify your values is by making a list of people you admire and define the character trait or behaviour that stands out for you. I admire Nelson Mandela for his courage – he fought and suffered for his beliefs. We can of course admire the same person for different reasons – you might admire Nelson Mandela for his capacity to forgive. Another person on my list is my nine year old son. His sense of humour and positive, smiling attitude inspire me. As you build up the list, you’ll identify themes, which make up your core values.
Another way to pinpoint your values is to think of what upsets or angers you. What makes your blood boil? Is it someone who says one thing in front of you and the opposite when other people are around? Is it the person who jumps the queue and ignores everyone left behind? Is it a promise someone made but did not live up to? If something really upsets you, it is because a value has been stepped on.
As you become more aware of your values, they will drive your behaviour and choices, bringing you nearer to your goals for life. Values are like signposts on your path – the arrows that tell you which journey will hold the most fulfillment. Look out for these signposts!
I look forward to seeing your values in practice and will join you in the comments section of the article.