Are you living by someone else’s values? Or are you living by your own?
Values, as we know, are what we hold as deeply important or essential in our lives. When living a life that aligns with our values, we’re likely to feel energized and fully engaged in all aspects of living.
The photograph above was taken a few days ago by my daughter while hiking in Connemara in the west of Ireland. She took a week’s trip away from her life as a writer in New York City in order to realign with her core values.
For some people, taking ourselves out of our day-to-day life helps us to “come home” to ourselves and reconnect with what’s most important.
When values are even somewhat out of alignment with the environment in which we live or work, the energy we need to feel and be at our best – physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual – might be in short supply. For example, we might be feeling anxiety, stress, boredom, resentment, a vague impression that something is missing. Or a deep longing for something we can’t quite name might prevail.
Your Life is Calling – Answer the Phone
Rarely are we asked to voice our values. If someone were to inquire, we’d probably say that we know what we value most. And we all do – at the core.
But for many, that core may be covered with layers of acquired values from years of living from an external value set imposed by culture, work environment, friends, family, or adopted by us as we deliver on what we think is expected of us in the world.
When core values are clear, it’s easier to make choices that allow us to live by those values, and to be energized and engaged as we move forward. Knowing our values and putting them into action — this is the work at hand.
Putting Your Values into Action
The first step to putting our values into action — that is, living by our values — is being clear on what our values are. What are the top 6 values you hold? If you don’t have a ready answer, following is a proven process for finding out.
Step 1: Mine for Values
- Think about a recent time when you felt any of these: (1) energized, (2) excited, (3) deeply happy, (4) joyful, (5) peaceful. What about the experience caused you to feel the way you did?
- Imagine you are being celebrated. Several people are standing at the podium and speaking about you. What do you want them to be saying about the life you have lived and/or the legacy you have left?
- Think about a person you admire (living or deceased). What are her/his top five standout qualities? For each one, answer this question, “Why does this quality stand out for me?”
Step 2: Create a List of Your Values
Using your answers to the questions above as well as the list below, brainstorm a list of 10-15 values. Following is a small sample. Your personal values may reflect many that are not shown here.
Concern for others
Fairness / Justice
Respect for others
Service to others
Spiritual or religious practice
Step 3: Put Your Values into Action
Values become values in action when you transform them into descriptions of how you express (or intend to express) them in your daily life. From your brainstorm list, choose your top 6 values – the ones that are most important for you in your life right now, even if you’re not fully expressing them at the moment. Then write the descriptions of how you express (or intend to express) each in your daily life.
|Value||Value in Action|
|Self-actualization||I continually develop myself so that I lead a life that fulfills me personally and professionally.|
|Self-care||I pay attention to my physical health, sound diet, regular fitness training, and relaxation and find ways to regularly renew myself mentally, emotionally and spiritually.|
|Courage||I speak up even when my views may be unpopular, and stay true to my purpose, despite the difficulties and obstacles that may come my way.|
|Simplicity||I have an uncluttered life.|
|Aptitude||I am competent and have the necessary skills to do the job. When I don’t have the skills or knowledge that I need, I find a way to get them.|
|Family||My family comes first.|
It’s easy to come home to yourself when you know what’s in the core. We can all get caught up in the dailies and forget what truly matters. If you feel you need to get back in touch with yourself and realign with your values, set aside time for a mini retreat.
This could mean a couple of hours in your own living room. Or, if you can, a half-day away from everything and everyone. Head out to the mountains, a lake, the ocean, your backyard — anywhere where you can feel at peace and do this exercise.
Question: What do you do to realign with your values? Do you have any tips to share? You can leave a comment by clicking here.