Talking about “Values” can be a bit like asking someone to eat Marmite on toast. Some people know what to expect and are glad to have the opportunity; others recoil slightly and pull a face of horror at the idea.
If you identify more with the latter group, I understand.
How could a list of words make any difference to my happiness or my success?
Have you ever felt not quite yourself? It’s frustrating. Even more so if the “big things” in life appear to be fine – well paid job, positive relationships, financial security etc. You “should” be happy. You “should” count yourself lucky. You “should” just snap out of it. And yet, despite all these “shoulds”, you just don’t feel like YOU. If you’re an intelligent individual, used to dealing with the complexities of your work and home environments, being unable to figure out what’s causing your discomfort just adds to the frustration.
Personally, my values help me make sense of things. They represent what’s most important to me and what I stand for. This means I can define what happiness and success mean to me and I understand how I can influence them.
Simply put, when you are living and working with your values, things flow and life is good. If a value is stepped on or ignored, the opposite is true.
Just as strong core muscles are essential to your physical balance and stability, strong core values contribute to emotional balance and resilience (the ability to tackle the ups and downs of our unpredictable lives).
Not feeling yourself? Look to your values. It is possible that something important to you is not being nurtured and that is having an impact on your happiness and/or success.
Equally, you can actively work with your values at times where you might ordinarily feel discomfort or doubt. For instance, I have a value of “Exploration”. I connect this to being open, being curious, being brave, taking a risk and consciously drawing on that value helps me when I am taking on something new.
How do I identify my values?
There are a few different ways of identifying your values. These two articles (huffpost and mindtools) contain helpful questions and steps to get started. It can be useful to do the exercises more than once, a few days or even weeks apart and look at what changes and what remains the same.
Values are more than a collection of words. It’s the connection you make to whichever word or phrase you choose that matters which is why lists of values (as in the Mindtools article) can be a useful starting point but taking it a few steps further to generate your own unique set is very powerful.
Sometimes, it’s enough just to recognise your values. Greater awareness of what’s important to you means you are more likely to make choices and seek opportunities that are in line with your values.
Sometimes, even with this knowledge, we hold ourselves back.
What are your thoughts about values? I’d love to hear your experiences and observations.
Stephanie Smith works with intelligent individuals and teams on personal impact, choice and change. Find out more and book a sample session at: www.stephaniesmithcoaching.co.uk