Last week, I talked about identifying your key values. Were you able to boil down your list to 5 top values?
This week the question is:
How do you use those values to create the life you want?
Values are values or are they?
Actually, I’ve learned from Helen Dewar that values aren’t all the same. I can say to you that one of my values is health. To me health means great food for my body, daily exercise, vitamins and learning all I can to stay as healthy as possible physically, mentally and emotionally. However, the person next to me the health value means losing weight or the person next to them, health might mean environmental health. We all focus energy on health but in different ways.
How Are Your Values Applied in Your Life?
First, define what the value means to you.
If it is freedom, what does freedom look like to you? Does freedom mean living in a democratic country or does it mean doing what you want when you want 24 hours a day? There are as many definitions of freedom as there are people. How do you define each of your values? Write it down. The word might be the same but the definition quite different from everyone else’s definition.
Second, ask yourself how this value applies in your life.
In other words, how will you live that value.
For instance, if one of your values is self-respect, how will you support that value at work? at home? with friends? in recreational activities? etc. What does your value look like, feel like? What are the results of living that value?
Third, are you prepared to act in alliance with your values? If your boss is constantly yelling at you and one of your values is self-respect, how will you deal with that situation? Will you approach your boss and let your boss know how the yelling impacts you and ask for change? Are you willing to quit your job to support your value? How important is that value? If you can’t back it up with appropriate action, then you need to question whether it’s really a value for you.
The Importance of the Value
If you are willing to do whatever it takes to support that value, then you know that it is truly a value. But if you say, for instance, self-respect is a value but you allow people to bully you at work and in your social life, then, obviously, self-respect is not a value but a wish. It’s a wish to feel self-respect but you won’t support it for yourself.
So often I’ve heard people express a particular value and yet their actions contradict their words. It’s amazing to watch. Someone will say I value money but, at every opportunity, squander it and rack up debt for no good reason. If money was a real value, they would take care of it – save it, spend it wisely, manage it to meet their dreams and understand the connection between holding money as value and exercising that value consistently. Actions are part and parcel of building self-esteem – you back up your own words with action.
Wondering why life hasn’t quite worked out so far? It could very well be because your words and actions are simply not aligned. Or, even worse, you’ve never defined your values and, if they existed, you wouldn’t be able to recognize them because you don’t understand what they look and feel like.
You’ve not identified your values, defined them for yourself and you are not prepared to defend those values at all costs. Within those “sticky” and difficult times your value is tested. In those moments, you’ll know whether or not you truly cherish a particular value which is under siege. If you fold under pressure, the value is not a value. If you stand up for your value, then you know you are living in alignment.
Is It Difficult?
Let’s say that identifying, defining and living your values are far easier than living out of alignment. The results will be more satisfying and rewarding because somehow every single day you know you are living the life you have chosen –the life you have chosen as opposed to living according to expectations of others. It’s not always easy to stick to your values but when you do, you’ll know the power that comes with that choice. It’s all a choice. What do you choose?