Values are personal. What’s of great importance to one person may be of no significance to another.
My friend’s daughter is an early riser. She naturally wakes at 5.30 every morning and has done since childhood. She loves to sit in the kitchen in the mornings and watch the sunrise. That’s when she does her best work. She says the sunrise energises her and it’s an essential start to her day. She really notices the difference on cloudy days, when she doesn’t have that invigorating ‘kick start’. Where she loves the sunrise, I love the sunset. I find it satisfying and cathartic. My friend’s daughter values starting her day and I value giving closure to my day in preparation for the next one. We appreciate the two opposite ends of the day, but we both experience that ‘feel good’ value.
Values Are The Underlying Principles That Define Us
While we tend to know what we like and don’t like, it also helps to understand what we value. By that, I mean it helps to see the importance, worth or usefulness of something in our lives. Values are the underlying principles, or standards of behaviour. Our values strongly influence how we behave. Positive values can be uplifting and supportive, while negative values can be undermining and destructive.
When we know our values, we have a greater sense of self. Our values fuel our emotions, feelings and thoughts, and when we live our lives in accordance with our values, we feel more fulfilled.
Some people naturally identify with their positive values, because they live by them and are in tune with them instinctively. Others find it more difficult. A lot of us rarely take time to stop and think ‘What do I actually value in life?’ For many of us, we don’t give pause, until our intrinsic values are challenged or blocked in some way. When our needs are in conflict with our values, it helps to take the time out to identify what we need to change within ourselves.
Identifying Our Personal Values
When we know our values, it’s easier to work out how to live in harmony with them. Decision-making becomes easier when we bring our actions into line with our values. When we look at our values in relation to our family, our life partner (if we have one), our friends, our spirituality, our leisure, our career, our money, and our health, we gain a holistic approach to our values.
Taking each section of The Wheel of Life, write out what you value most for each of these areas of your life. Make sure you write what you value in this present moment in time. Then write out what you’d like to appreciate. This is where you decide who you really want to be. (There’s a prompt list at the end of this blog to help you identify which values you best relate to or would like to have.)
Family Values: Family values underpin how you live your ‘family life’. These tend to be passed down through the generations, carrying behaviours and traditions that influence how your family behave in everyday life. They help define behaviour and reactions to life’s events; they influence decisions, establish family dynamics and family bonds. You may already have family values in place. But ask yourself, are they negative or positive? Which ones do you wish to ‘inherit’ and which ones do you want to discard? You may identify new values that you want for your family. Ask yourself, do you value your family’s love and support?
Life Partner Values: It’s crucial that we share common values in our intimate relationships, as, doing so, helps us unite and work in harmony and balance with another without losing our sense of self. If we’re in a relationship with someone who doesn’t share our values, it can undermine our wellbeing. If we have a partner, they can bring out the best or the worst in us. Observe your partnership. Consider how your partner shows up in your life, how they treat you, observe the decisions they make, what they say and how they say it, how they react or respond to life’s situations, how they spend their time. What do these things tell you about their values? Do their values reflect yours? Ask yourself, do you value your partner’s love and respect?
Friend Values: Values influence the direction of how we feel, think and make choices. They significantly impact how we behave and perform. As I was growing up, my dad always said, ‘Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.’ We learn about ourselves through our friendships and, through our interactions with them, we develop and grow. Their values greatly impact on our values. Our friends inevitably influence our life decisions. Positive, supportive friendships encourage our growth and development. Negative, jealous friendships undermine our self-worth and hinder our growth and development. Having friends with similar values supports us in succeeding in life. Ask yourself, do you value friends that encourage and support you?
Spiritual Values: It’s essential that we nurture our souls. When we have spiritual values, it helps give our life direction and purpose. When we live by these values, it helps us to keep on the path that’s right for us. When we have spiritual values, we’re more whole and complete as a human being. Ask yourself, do you value the need to find stillness within?
Leisure Values: It’s important for our sense of wellbeing that we value our need for ‘time out’ or ‘play and creative expression’. This can easily be achieved through relaxing or taking part in fun activities. Having leisure values helps restore balance and harmony to the mind, heart and core. Ask yourself, do you value daily ‘me time’? What leisure values do you share with your partner or friends?
Career Values: Career values are the principles that underpin the way we work. These will determine our career success and significantly impact our earning potential. We all have our own workplace values. When we work for an organisation or as part of a team, it’s crucial that the company’s values reflect our personal work values. Knowing how our values fit in with co-workers’ values is also essential, as it can show us areas that may need more work. Ask yourself, do you value deadlines over accuracy? Do your colleagues’ values meet or clash with your own?
Money Values: Simply put, money is a symbol that represents goods or services. Good money values mean we’re recognising its worth and the role it plays in fulfilling our basic needs, as well as our comforts. Unhealthy money values tend to make us materialistic and greedy. Some people don’t necessarily care where their money comes from, but this may be of enormous concern for others, e.g. a vegan may want to ensure their pension investment fund doesn’t support product testing on animals. Ask yourself, do you value what you spend your money on?
Health Values: We don’t tend to value our health until we lose it. Our general health and wellbeing are influenced by a wide variety of factors that affect our mind (thoughts), heart (emotions), and core (feelings). While we may be prone to inherited illnesses, science is now researching how we think and behave, what we eat and how we move, impacts on our overall health. Ask yourself, do you value exercise and diet in your overall health care? Do you value a healthy mindset?
Prompt List of Values
The following list is merely a prompt. You may wish to add additional values that are not on this list. Find the words that best fit your own personal values.
Being (simply being)