What are your most important values and when was the last time you re-evaluated them?
Every person has a set of core values, even if they aren’t aware of them. (So do businesses, societies and other groups).
Your individual core values come from the persons and things that have influenced you including your parents and family, your religious affiliation, your friends and peers, your education, your reading, and from your choices.
If you are not sure what your top values are or you have not examined them lately to make sure they are the best values for you, try this exercise.
Step One: Identify Your Current Values
Write down 20 values that resonate with you. If you need help, use this list of values. Then, cut your list from 20 to 10. Then, cut your list in half again. What’s left are your 5 true core values.
If you want, when you create your list you can seek feedback from people who are close to you and will be honest with you. Ask them what they think are your core personal values based on how you live your life.
This is harder than you think, so take time with it. (When I first did this exercise, it took me 2 days and I ended up with my top 5, then another 5 and then 12 more that were important to me. Maybe I should put the value of decisiveness at the top of my list!)
Step Two: Choose Your Best Values
Next, think about your values. Do they feel right? Are you excited about living your values? Will your life be better if you make decisions based on the values you have identified?
If you answered any of these questions with a “no,” it’s time to change your values.
Some people don’t think you can change your values. They think that you don’t choose your values, your values choose you. They see you as passive in the process. They often say things like “that’s the way I was raised” and “that’s just the way I am.”
I disagree. You can change your values if you want. You are not simply a bystander watching your life unfold. You can choose your values and design the life you want.
You should review your values regularly to see if any changes should be made.
Affirm the existing values that are working for you, discard those that aren’t working and add the values that you believe will be best for you.
In choosing your values, be honest with yourself. Don’t choose values that are totally unrealistic.
But, on the other hand, values can be aspirational.
Choose the values that will give you the life you want, that will help you become the person you always wanted to be.
That may mean adding or giving a higher priority to values such as health, fitness, continuous learning and growth, proactivity, enthusiasm, optimism, service, or others, if you believe that having and living the new value will improve your life.
Step 3: Live Your Values
Living a life of integrity means living your values. Being authentic. For example, if you believe in kindness, you should not be unkind to others. If you believe in fairness, you should not treat others unfairly. If you value optimism, you should live that value.
To live your values, keep them constantly in front of you. Write them down on a note card, post them on your personal bulletin board, write them in your journal.
If you want help, tell others about the values you are trying to live and ask them to tell you when you deviate from your core values.
By living an authentic life that is consistent with your values, you will find that you will feel good about yourself. The more closely you live your values, the more at peace with yourself you will be.
You will also feel energized and excited about bringing your values to life. And, if you’ve chosen your values well, you will become more successful at achieving your goals.