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Identifying and clarifying your personal values is more than an academic exercise. It is an activity which can define you on your own terms and which can lead you to the kind of success which is sustainable. Knowing your values and then living in congruence with what you know provides you with four important benefits.
First of all, your values can provide you with a sense of security. I say ‘can’ because they will only do that if they are in alignment with, if not exactly the same as, true principles. That’s a whole other article. But knowing them can provide you with the knowledge that whatever happens, they won’t fail you. You can fail them if you lack the discipline to enforce your own rules, the rules that were created in their regard, but they will never let you down. Properly identified and complied with, your values were rules you set that consciously or unconsciously will support you in times of challenge.
Secondly, they provide guidance. When those challenges, problems, situations, events and other ‘happening’ words take place that make you pause in confusion over what to do in response, your values will objectively tell you what (you know) you should do. They do this by reminding you what you decided, in advance, was the ‘right thing’ to do. It’s when you ignore your own advice (conscience) that you feel shame, guilt or strong doubts about any action you took.
Properly considered values provide you with wisdom. Knowing that you have already considered them, they will pay you back by reminding you of the wisdom that you found in defining them. It’s a loop. “I chose my values wisely, they therefore advise me wisely, I learn better, and that new wisdom repays me.” But the new wisdom reinforces the old wisdom – it rarely replaces it if the original value was in line with reality and genuine principles. But yes, if the old value was ill-considered, experience can result in a reassessment.
And your values provide you with a sense of power. Knowing that what you are doing is the right thing to be doing, reinforces your mental capacity to choose and to enforce that value in the situations that demand such application.
You best come to know when you have lived in accordance with your values when you suffer a challenge and, despite the potential for pain that your values-based decision may cause you, you make the values-based choice – and you feel good about it. Even when you feel a sense of disappointment about the actual outcome – you feel satisfied that you did right. You can then deal with that new outcome without the emotional baggage that a ‘wrong choice’ may have created.
I know that’s happened to me occasionally. My last resignation was the result of a values-based decision to walk away from a damaging situation regardless of the sense of injustice I felt. I won’t say it wasn’t painful, but the pain is assuaged by the firm belief that my solution was as right for me as it was for anyone else.
In my website https://threeresolutionsguy.com you can find a free exercise through which you can identify and define your personal values. It is both an easy and difficult task. Finding the term for a value is easy – defining it is a little more complicated as it requires you to imagine the situations in which it may apply and to define your response accordingly. And actually living it can be very challenging indeed – espousing honesty and then using little white lies is risky.
But it is worth it. I’ve lost count of the number of times the act of reviewing my value statements has jolted me into action. The same process could serve you.
And those you serve – not just your employer or client, but those you love.
Do it for them.
For a detailed values identification process, read The Way, available HERE on Amazon.