What do you value? In life; a partner; a job?
If I asked you this question, could you answer me? Not with some vague explanation of what you think your values should be, or what you want them to be; but with a clear description of the things that are most important to you and the way you live your life.
What are your core values? Can you articulate them?
Why is this even important? Because knowing your values and living in alignment with them will change your life. Here’s how:
1. It makes decision making easy.
Knowing your values gives you clarity, which makes decision making easy. It also ensures your decisions are consistent.
When you know what you value, you can check opportunities and potentially difficult decisions against them to help make your choice clear.
A few years ago, I was presented with a job opportunity that at first glance seemed a no-brainer ‘yes’.
It was with a great company and had an impressive pay packet.
I was tempted to say yes, because that’s what we ‘should’ say when something good is offered to us, right?
But then I ran it past my career values at the time – a simple mind map that captured the key elements of what my ideal job/working life looked like.
Flexibility around my children was on the list. So was variety – of both work and clients. Making a difference was there; as were creativity and independence.
While the job offer was great, it didn’t match up with these key values the way running my own business did.
This made my decision simple. Instead of umming and ahhing for weeks, I knew what I had to do. I thanked the company for thinking of me, but declined the opportunity without feeling guilty or worried I’d made the wrong call.
Knowing what I valued and what was important to me allowed me to do that.
2. It will make you happier.
Brendan Baker from ‘The Start of Happiness’ rates understanding your values as a fundamental building block to happiness. And I agree.
“Your values influence your behaviours, your choices and your emotions,” Baker explains on his website startofhappiness.com.
“Your values influence your habits, your lifestyle and your social experiences. Your values are your motivators and give you purpose for getting up in the morning.”
When you know your values, and live in alignment with them, you experience harmony and satisfaction that you’re living your purpose and doing what’s right for YOUR life. This makes you content.
As Gandhi said: “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
3. It will help you achieve success.
Success means different things to different people, but knowing your values will make it clear what success means to you.
When you’re clear on what you value it’s easier to set relevant goals to meet your dreams. It also helps give you the commitment and determination you need to achieve them.
I value lifting people up. Keeping this at the forefront of my mind led to a significant change in direction for my business: I decided to develop the speaking and training side and let the consulting go. This not only added to the financial success of my business, it also significantly increased my love and passion for what I do. Success for me is knowing I am making a positive difference in people’s lives.
4. It will help you be more assertive.
Being assertive involves standing up for what you believe in and expressing your rights and opinions in a clear, direct and calm manner. It’s difficult to do this if you don’t know what those rights, beliefs and opinions are.
Knowing your values helps you identify what you stand for. It helps you determine your line in the sand. You’ll know what you’re prepared to let through to the keeper and stay silent on, and what you are compelled to stand up for, even when it’s uncomfortable.
Sometimes it’s hard to speak up for what you believe in, but when you’re clear on your values, this becomes much easier. When you know where that line is for you, it’s not a question of ‘do I’ or ‘don’t I’? You just you do or you don’t.
I value equality. If I see or hear something sexist or racist, I’ll call it out. It’s not always easy, but for me to live in line with my values, it’s what I need to do.
5. It will reduce stress.
Acting against your values makes you feel uneasy.
If you value health, but constantly eat junk food and don’t exercise, you’ll be in a permanent state of stress, with strong feelings of guilt and of doing something ‘wrong’.
If you value honesty, but won’t listen to feedback or tell others what you think, something will feel off – even if you can’t articulate it.
When you do know your values, and live by them, you won’t feel this unease. You won’t beat yourself up all the time. You won’t feel stressed that your behaviour is out of line with what you say is important to you – because it won’t be.
Instead, you’ll feel comfortable that you’re living authentically, and be calmer as a result.
6. You’ll maximise your time.
One of the keys to good time management is the ability to prioritise. When you understand your values, prioritising becomes easier. You’ll know what the most important thing is for you to do, and then go about doing it.
When you maximise your time, you maximise your life and that’s important because life is not a practice run – this is it.
The next steps.
Want to get clear on your core values?
Send me an email with subject line VALUES and I’ll send you a PDF of my values exercise
Leah Mether is a communications and soft skill speaker, trainer, coach and author who lives in alignment with her values.
To learn more about Leah’s work and how she can help you, visit her website at leahmether.com.au.