Values are an integral part of living a fulfilling life. Having a set of values influences/defines our morals, our decisions, our happiness, our lifestyle, our belief etc. If you constantly suffer from “too many tasks” syndrome, relying on your values can help you prioritize, delegate, and delete those tasks off the list.
They’re your guiding compass, your GPS, your reliable friend who knows what’s right for you! In corporate lingo you see them as “Guiding Principles”, “Comapny values”, “Leadership Principles” and many more. That’s because even massive orgs being run by a hundred MBA’s at some point can feel uncertain about a decision, and that’s when they can take a moment to reflect on their values.
We as humans get lost all the time in our heads! Its part of who we are and it’s a wonderful thing. Being confused fuels curiosity which leads to innovation and has helped build the wonderful world we live in. As a lover of philosophy and philosophical studies, I am always amazed by the amount of ways different human minds can come up with hundreds of different solutions, or pose million more questions to a given scenario. However, philosophy has also taught me that it’s easy to build a spiderweb in your head and obsess about the million different ways a situation can go.
Its times like these when one must rely on their values to help them straighten things out and understand the direction they want to go in. Everytime I am posed with a difficult situation, lack of motivation, or just feeling down, I look upon my list of values that I have listed as “Life Commandments” in my office whiteboard to help me get back at it.
Goals vs Values
First of all let’s make sure this is taken care of! I’ve heard many people confuse goals with values. Goals are generally tangible targets with a fixed outcome on a given timeline that you can adhere to, atleast that’s what effective goal setting teaches us. However, values are like a principle that you adhere to. You can set multiple goals to stay true to a given value in your life. For e.g. A value can be “Cherish relationships” and goals under that can be “Call your friends once a week”, “Remember birthdays”, etc.
Values are “What?” and goals are “How?”.
Now I am a very goal oriented person! I create goals left and right and before all my hunt for purpose in my life, my goals were all over the place. Some would give me a sense of achievement, others merely felt like a to-do list. Having identified a set of values in my life, I am able to attribute a goal to these values. If anything doesn’t seem to fall within the realm of these principles, I can take a moment to question its importance and possibly drop it altogether.
So how exactly do you figure out your set of values? 🤔
Well it begins with a deep sense of self! You need to be really aware of your current situation with work, life, career, personal relationships, etc. Only then can you highlight the areas you are needing to improve or stay close to.
Here are the steps that I followed to setup my list of values.
Step 1. List all that you value.
If you’ve ready my other posts, you know that I always gather data first! A list of resources to use as starting points so you don’t feel lost from the beginning. My preferred/recommended way to get there is meditation and mindfulness! If you’re curious about starting on those, checkout my post from earlier titled:Beginner’s Guide to Meditation.
However, even without being an active yogi, you can just ask yourselves and reflect upon older memories and stories about what you care about. Explore past relationships, careers, trips, hobbies etc. Find out what you liked/disliked about those. For e.g. “I always enjoyed going on camping with my partner”, or “My trip to iceland was wonderful because of all the beautiful outdoors”.
Even if you don’t feel like anything is terribly important at the current stage, atleast the Nostalgia would be nice. 😄
If you feel absolutely lost, go online! A simple Google search about “what values to pick” will give you lists of hundreds of things to choose from. Even though these didn’t originate from you, that’s ok! Sometimes a little nudge is needed to jog our memory.
Step 2. Identify Patterns.
Now that you have a major list of memories at your disposal and you’ve extracted the lessons from them, let’s figure out if any of those stories exhibit a pattern! The e.g. I listed in Step #1, tell me that I just really enjoy outdoors! So one of my values would be “Spend more time outdoors!“. So the next time I am in flux with where should I go for my next time off, I will have an easier time to choose.
Ideally at the end of this, you’ll have a list of 3-10 values you want to either get better at, or focus more on in life. If you have more than 10, I’d recommend picking the top 10! Even 10 can be overwhelming but it’s easier to break it down into pieces if need be.
Step 3. Put them up where you can see.
Pick a place where you are constantly reminded of these! Maybe they’re in a diary you look at before you go sleep or at random times throughout the day! Maybe you can create a chart and put it up in your office. I myself have chosen to have them written in my home office and have a digital copy in my phone to look at occasionally.
Step 4. Action
Once you have a set of values, it’s really important to be mindful and actively pursue them! Before you know it, they’ll be second nature to you. 💗
One way is to choose one value on your list and make an active note to practise it daily/weekly/monthly. For e.g. If “Cherish relationships” was my value of choice for a month, I would call/text a friend, tell people I’m grateful that they’re in my lives, or just make internal notes about what relationships I do cherish.
Another one is to do a rundown of your day before going to bed and seeing how many decisions you make during the day that fell within one of your values. The goal isn’t to make each action fall within our values set, but to increase the amount of active decisions you make to be influenced by them.
NOTE: This is my process and it’s constantly evolving! I do a rinse, repeat 🔁 quite frequently and it may take a bit of trial and error to see what helps you succeed. Reach out to us if you have anything on your mind 💌
My Values 📔
Before I go any further, I must admit that just like everyone else, I am also trying different things and figuring it out. So the values I have for myself aren’t all set in stone! They get replaced occasionally and I add new ones all the time. I’ve gotten better the more I do this activity but it’s normal to not value something you valued months ago. You may feel the need to do so either because it’s just not giving you happiness or perhaps it’s not as urgent anymore since you have higher priority things to look after. Just know it’s all OK.
Be Kind 💓
I have always wanted to be a kind person! So everytime I am angry, irrational, or have any negative emotions towards anyone, I stop to think about this value to help me think more clearly.
Do It Now ⏲
I read somewhere on the internet that “Procrastination is your ego convincing you that the universe owes you another opportunity to do something you already had time to do.” That quote drilled so hard in my mind that I have adopted an habit of just doing things right in the moment. Ofcourse I fall of the wagon at times, but this always brings me back on.
Act how you want to feel 💃
Studies after studies have shown that humans can actively control their mind and tap into a certain emotional mindset if they focus hard enough. People who smile everyday and often are shown to be generally happier than those who don’t. We can rewire ourselves to change our moods and on cold wintery dark mornings this value helps me wake up with a happy mindset to look forward to wonderful things.
Let it go ☮
Holding a grudge against someone ultimately only ever hurts you! I have fallen into this trap more times than I care to count. This value helps me to remember that forgiving someone isn’t for them but it’s purely for my mental peace.
Be Appreciative 🙏
For far too long I’ve played the role of a contradictarian in my life! I can look at a negative to any situation! “Oh that movie was great, but the tickets were expensive”, “I like my PC but I don’t game so much”, “That guy was friendly but I don’t need more friends” etc.
Being actually appreciative and grateful for people/things in my life has really helped me be more humble and happier in general. So I make an active note to appreciate who/whatever I have in my life.
Special mention to our instagram follower dressed.coast, who shared the following value with us:
Lift others up! 🙌
Lifting others is a surefire way to lift yourself up! Making an active note to help others Do Better in life will always come back to you in form of Karma, Good Vibes or just internal satisfaction.
Final words 🙏
First of all, thank you so so much for reading this article! I am full of gratitude and I thank you for your time and interest 🙏.
I hope this post has helped you and If you have any feedback or would love to get in touch, please reach out! I’d LOVE to hear about your experience with setting values and any practises you’ve followed that I missed. If you haven’t already, make sure to sign up for our newsletter by entering your email to get notified on new posts or follow us on social media if that’s more your speed at Instagram or Facebook.
We’re just starting out but hoping to #DoBetter every day and help others! Please share this with your friends and family and invite them to join the club with us.