(~3 minute read.)
Values are our hearts deepest desires for the way we want to interact with the world, other people and ourselves. A value is a way of being or believing that we hold most important. It is knowing what is significant and meaningful for you; it is knowing the sort of person you want to be; the strengths and qualities you want to develop; how you want to behave; and what you want to stand for in life.
Living our values means that we just don’t profess them, we live them. We walk our talk. We care that our words, behaviours and thoughts align with our values. Values-guided action promotes authenticity, and provides richness and meaning to life. Living in agreement with your values is fulfilling and contributes positively to your wellbeing; conversely, living in conflict with your values is stressful and dissatisfying. That’s why it is so important to clearly understand your own personal code of values – your happiness depends upon not only knowing your values, but living in accordance with them.
This is what living my values feels like …
… it feels liberating, energising and uplifting; and it feels like I can take on the world.
Values are our hearts deepest desires for the way we want to interact with the world, other people and ourselves.
Research shows that 1-2 values truly drive us; 1-2 values are at our core and our other values are forged from these. My two core values are love – love of family, friends, animals – and fairness. If you were to look at my life map, you would see these two values are expressed repeatedly; guiding me and motivating me through my life.
Right now, my value of love is driving my call to courage for 2020. My call to courage is to say no to work that fills my diary so much that it takes away from my ability to behave in alignment with my value of love.
Why does this require me to be courageous? Because of the risk involved. What if I say no and my client:
- Doesn’t call me back in future?
- Finds someone else that they prefer?
- Feels that I am not meeting their needs?
However, while the risk is high, living my value of love is highly worthwhile and so I will act; I will demonstrate behaviours that align with this value.
A key behaviour which supports my value of love is date night with Geoff (my husband) every Tuesday. Another key behaviour is to have dinner with my mum every week. My workload over the past 2-3 years has resulted in my being very tired and as a result, I have neglected both these behaviours and it feels dreadful. When I have lived fully into my value of love and these supporting behaviours, I have actually come away
re-energised. These behaviours have in fact lifted the tiredness; these behaviours have strengthened and invigorated me.
If you were to look at my life map, you would see these two values are expressed repeatedly; guiding me and motivating me through my life.
Living your values:
To help live your values, firstly, you need to be able to name them. Secondly, you need to operationalise them; that is, you need to identify the behaviours that align with your values. You need to identify “what’s ok, what’s not ok” (Brené Brown); to identify “this is what I will do …” and “this is what I won’t do …”
As a strengths-based practitioner, I encourage participants to identify the behaviours that support their values by reflecting on past experiences when they were fully living into their values. I ask them to reflect on:
- What were you doing?
- Why were you doing it?
- What behaviours were you demonstrating?
- Who else was involved? How did they support you?
- What was the outcome?
- What did you learn?
- How did you feel?
When you can name your values and identify their supporting behaviours, it becomes easier (not necessarily easy) to make your decisions when you reach the fork in the road – for example: “Will I agree to this project which means I’ll have to work this weekend and reschedule mum? … Well, no. I know how important it is for me to see her and I know that she is one of my greatest sources of inspiration.”
By the way, please don’t get me wrong. I totally agree that we all need self-care and perhaps, at times, I do need to reschedule. But here’s my challenge to myself: when I feel that I may need to reschedule my weekly catchup with my mum, I need to ask myself:
- Am I being honest with myself about why I am rescheduling?
- Am I being true to my value and its supporting behaviours?
Finally, please remember:
- We all live by different values; no one value is better or more worthwhile than the other
- We all express a number of different values; we express them differently and with different intensity
If you would like to identify and operationalise your values, we can support you in doing so. Additionally, if you would like to share your stories of values, courage and more, please be in touch.