Imagine that you are a navigator on the open sea. You are quite skilled at using the stars as your guide.
You trust this huge expanse of light, which flickers and shows you where you are in relation to the world. Without the stars you will drift aimlessly. You will go where the tides take you and end up in a location that is not of your choosing.
You can enjoy the quiet water, the gentle waves and the water lapping on the sides of the boat, and every now and again you look up to make sure that you are still heading in the right direction.
When a storm sets you off course, you can tell which way to go when the skies clear.
Our personal values are the stars in our own lives. It is an abstract concept of those things we value most in life. Aligning our actions with our personal values elevates us.
Read on to learn how to discover your personal values, and how that can help you in your life.
Improve your Decision Making
Let’s say that you get invited to a dinner with an important client. The dinner falls on the same night that you have agreed to spend a family evening at home seeing that you have been traveling a lot lately.
What do you do? Do you accept the dinner invite with the client? Or do you decline and spend the evening with your family instead?
When you know what your personal values are, it will make your decision easier. Even better, you have peace with what you have decided.
Living in alignment with your personal values has the benefit that you start trusting yourself more, you honor your own decisions, your self-respect grows and so does your self-esteem.
How to Discover Your Personal Values
I’ve compiled a list of the most common personal or core values to help you.
- free spirit
- personal power
- lack of
While I have given you this list, it is important to note the following. These are just words, and these words or concepts will have a different meaning for every person.
For this exercise to be truly powerful and effective, you need to be crystal clear on what each core value means to you. I explain the process below.
Grab a pen and a piece of paper, and go somewhere where you won’t get disturbed. Take 20 minutes to write down all the things which are important to you.
Then, go through your list and ask yourself with each value you have written down: “What do I actually mean by this, and what do I get from it?”.
Going through the list like this will whittle it down to 5-7 core values.
Now rank these in terms of importance 1-7.
We have to make sure that we remember what our core values are. The easiest way to do this is to stick it up somewhere where you can see them and look at them every day.
When you keep your personal values at the forefront of your mind like this, it makes it easier to be intentional in your daily choices and rituals.
Benefits of Living in Alignment with your Personal Values
- Focus on what is essential
- Increase your self-trust
- Don’t question your own decisions
- Increased peace of mind
- A more purposeful life
- More contentment
- Easier to achieve your goals
How to Use Your Personal Values to Guide You
The most obvious answer here is that if you know what your values are, it can help you with your decisions.
The lifestyle you live, the food you eat and the friends you hang out with. All of these choices are influenced by your personal values.
If you are unable to make a decision about something in your life, there might be a good chance that you are out of alignment with what truly matters to you.
This was very clear for me in my own life when I had the opportunity to travel somewhere specific a while back.
I couldn’t decide whether I was going to do it, or not. Annoyingly, I kept on changing my mind. Yes, I’ll go, the next minute, No, I’m actually not sure anymore.
I couldn’t figure out why it was so difficult for me to commit, I mean I thought I would really love to go! Until I really took the time to see what was going on.
It would have meant that I went without the kids, and at that point in my life, it was out of alignment with my personal values.
The moment that I realized my indecision was about the kids more than the travel, I was able to decide and have peace with my decision.
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Core Values Are Not Permanent
Our personal values are pretty consistent through our lives, however, they are not set in stone forever-and-ever.
When we experience big changes in our lives such as the death of a loved one, illness, infidelity or divorce, it can change what we value most.
So, discovering your core values is not a once-off exercise that you do, and then forget about.
I feel as if I say this in many of my posts, but the season of our life that we are in determines so many things!
I get sad when I see people who are stuck in a certain period of their lives. Our automatic thinking patterns can limit us in ridiculously many ways if we let it.
There is great freedom in starting to focus on what is essential, discarding that which takes up unnecessary space and filling our lives with more of what gives us a sense of purpose.