Whether we are consciously aware of them or not, we all have a core set of personal values that guides our actions. There may be a long list of values that we identify with, but there is a key group, or core values, that truly define us.Values are principles or qualities that are important to you. Values are those things that give meaning to your life. There may be values you have been told you should hold dear, but in reality, values are deeply personal and can only come from you.
The problem is that many people are flying on auto pilot. Most of us have not sat down and thought about what we value most. And that’s a problem because if we don’t consciously know what are true values are, we may be taking actions, making decisions or working in jobs that are in conflict with our values.
I first took a good look at my values about six years ago while reading Cheryl Richardson’s book Stand Up For Your Life. She has an exercise that helps you determine your core values. At the time the core values I identified for myself were: excellence, abundance, creativity, joy and variety. I was working in a job and had a life situation where it was hard to have much of any of these values in my life. Is it any wonder I felt stressed and unhappy?
I repeated this exercise when I joined a coaching group almost two years ago. One of the first things we did was define our core values. This time my values were: excellence, abundance, creativity, freedom and variety. At this point I was self employed and my life was more aligned with these values. If felt happier and more energized
Why? Knowing what your values are, living by them on a day to day basis and incorporating them into your goals and plans for your business and your personal life strengthens both you and your business.
When we are doing things that are not consistent with our values we lose energy and focus; we feel disconnected. On the other hand, acting in harmony with our values gives us a sense that things are right in the world. It is easier to stay motivated.
How do you define your values? First look at a list of values and check off any that apply (see www.selfcounseling.com and www.gurusoftware.com for a list of possible values). If there are any missing from the list, write them down. Next narrow your list down to the top ten. Finally, narrow it down to the top four or five. These will be your core values.
If you look back at mine, you’ll my core values only changed slightly between times when I completed this exercise.
What should you do with these values once you’re done? I keep mine posted on coloured card stock on the wall next to my desk. I try to use them to make decisions. If an option gives me more of what I value then I know it’s the right decision. If it takes me away from my values then I’d better think again.
Do you use your values when making business decisions? Please post a comment and share your experiences.
Andrea J. Stenberg