Who we are, what we value in our relationships or within ourselves, are going to be different from person to person. Things like wealth, stability, generosity, religion, kindness, loyalty, friendship, intimacy, laughter, travel, family, togetherness, community, etc. are all things that we define, prioritize and carry out within our lives.
What’s important about our values is they have tremendous power in their ability to help us know ourselves, establish boundaries, navigate relationships, and make decisions. If we can manage to define our values, we can evaluate what exists in our lives that conflict with how we strive to live. It can be a total #gamechanger.
The beautiful thing about values is they are entirely unique to your person. Yes, our values can coincide with others. Even better! Ideally you want you and your partner or friends to have some similar values, right? What's important to you may not be important to me. And more importantly, our values can change over time or can remain sturdy and steadfast for years – and that's okay! It's healthy and completely normal. Whatever your values are, they are intensely personal. Those around you might not 100% agree with you. But you need to be unapologetic with them and with your efforts to structure your life around them.
--- What happens if we don't define our values?
I believe it can lead to feeling lost or conflicted, conflict in our relationships (romantic or otherwise), can create difficulties in decision making, and can even make it difficult to establish healthy boundaries. Which are all factors that can lead to unhappiness, stress, and overall negativity.
It can leave us conflicted, restless, or feeling like something is missing, without us even realizing why we feel that way.
We feel ashamed or not good enough because we didn’t go to college.
We are confused with our religion or beliefs and feel shame because we have doubts.
We are insecure about money so we either spend a lot, get into debt, or hoard money to make ourselves feel more secure.
We don't know how to have healthy, romantic adult relationships.
We clash with family and friends because our true values don't mix and it feels very personal.
We're unhappy at every single job we ever have.
We feel pressured to have the “right” kind of job, house, car, clothing...
We measure our happiness or worthiness according to someone else’s standards. This is a really bad habit that can have really bad effects on our mental health, happiness, and self-worth. I don’t think we’ll ever have the perfect answer, but we can try! BUT HOW?
Tip #1 - start by doing a bit of self-reflection. When you’re frustrated, proud, happy, angry, sad - try to ask yourself why you feel that way. I would be willing to bet when you’re at your happiest, it’s because you’re living out one of your values. When you’re angry, it’s because you’re conflicting with something you value.
Tip #2 - take the Barrett Values Centre's values assessment. It’s short-and-sweet but helpful! It gives you a list of words, and you choose 10 values from the list that best describe who you are. It then sends you an email with further information breaking down the results. It gives you hands-on exercises to break down what’s important to YOU and what you’re doing in your life that supports those beliefs. Give it a shot! It might surprise you.
Tip #3 - start thinking about your values anytime your faced with a decision. Notice how things fit into your overall vision of yourself now and that vision of yourself 10 - 20 years from now.
Whatever you do, be intentional with the values you uphold and practice in your lives. Are your actions reflective of what makes you fulfilled? Or is there some part of you that feels empty?
Sit down with your partner or kids and make a list of what values you want to prioritize in your family. Talk with your boss about what you value in your job. If you’re job hunting, look for companies that have similar values or core structure. Pick one value as your word for the week and make an effort every day to have the Moxie to live it out. Be intentional with creating the life you want - one step (or value) at a time.