I read an article this morning which really got me thinking even more about values. There was a section in the article highlighting the fact so many of us focus on the ‘How Can I Get’ rather than ‘How Do I Become’, there was a question in the article that has struck me and is lingering still in my thoughts, it asked, “How much of your time is spent consuming things other people made (TV, music, video games, websites) versus making your own?” Only one of those adds to your value as a human being. Whoa….. Now there’s a statement!

In my humble opinion, it’s time we all started focusing on being human beings rather than a human doings.

So, that brings me to something else I really wanted to share that lights my fire. It really doesn’t matter how many times I do Value’s exercises with clients and colleagues, the result is always the same…… Inspired Action! And I love it!

It’s all good and well to talk about values, but really, what are they? Basically, your values are the standards of behaviour and the ways you do things that you think are correct in the way you live and work.

For some of us, the language and thoughts around values and vision can be a bit hard to digest, however……..identifying and understand your values is a challenging, yet an extremely important exercise I encourage you to do. Why? Because your personal values are a central part of who you are – and who you want to be (not at all about what you can get!). By becoming more aware of these fundamental factors about yourself, you can use them as a guide to make the best choices in any situation. And just quietly, once you know them, it makes decision-making a much easier process as you can use them as a guiding force to point you in the right direction, kind of like an inbuilt compass.

When your actions and decisions align with your values, then you show others that you have integrity. You become a good role model, and you experience peace of mind because you are confident you are doing the right thing.

Be aware though, when you act in a way that goes against your values, that’s when you feel unhappy and bad about yourself, you tend to make mistakes and sometimes you even start to act unethically and integrity.

So, do you know what your values are?

To identify them, start by thinking of times when you were happiest. What were you doing? Why were you so happy?

Next, remember times when you were really proud of yourself. Why did you feel proud?

Then think about times when you felt really fulfilled and satisfied with what you were doing. What need or desire did you meet in these situations?

Once you’ve thought about why these situations are so memorable, make a list of the values that led to these outcomes. These can be values like honesty, openness, success, creativity, or self-reliance. You may end up with quite a long list, and that’s totally fine because once you review them you can cluster them into groups and then find the one word that represents that cluster (I recommend drilling them down to 5 or 6 words that really mean something to you). These will be the words that represent the values that truly define you. This can be a challenging step, so give yourself time to really think about which of these are most meaningful. By doing this, you’ll take an important step towards living a happier, more authentic and less stressed life (how awesome is that going to be!)

So here it is again, step by step (TIP When doing these exercises, find examples from both your business and personal life. This will ensure a variety of responses):

Step1.Identify the times when you were happiest

What were you doing?
Were you with other people? Who?
What other factors contributed to your happiness?

Step2.Identify the times when you were most proud

Why were you proud?
Did other people share your pride? Who?
What other factors contributed to your feelings of pride?

Step3.Identify the times when you were most fulfilled and satisfied

What need or desire was fulfilled?
How and why did the experience give your life meaning?
What other factors contributed to your feelings of fulfillment?

Step4.Determine your top values, based on your experiences of happiness, pride, and fulfillment

Why is each experience truly important and memorable? Use the following list of common personal values to help you get started – and aim for about 10 top values. (As you work through, you may find that some of these naturally combine. For instance, if you value learning, challenge, and growth, you might say that personal growth is one of your top values.)

Step5.Prioritise your top values – The MOST important step!

This step is THE most difficult because you’ll have to look deep inside yourself. It’s also the most important step, because, when making a decision, you’ll have to choose between solutions that may satisfy different values. This is when you really need to clearly know which value is more important to you.

Write down your top values, not in any particular order.
Look at the first two values and ask yourself, “If I could satisfy only one of these, which would I choose?” It might help to visualise a situation in which you would have to make that choice.
Keep working through the list, by comparing each value with each other value, until your list is in the correct order.

Step6.Reaffirm your values

Check your top-priority values, and make sure they fit with your life and your vision for yourself.
Do these values make you feel good about yourself?
Are you proud of your top five (or 6) values?
Would you be comfortable and proud to tell your values to people you respect and admire, your partner, your family, your staff?
Do these values represent things you would support, even if your choice isn’t popular, and it puts you in the minority?

When you consider your values in decision making, you can be sure to keep your sense of integrity and what you know is right and approach decisions with confidence and clarity. You’ll also know that what you’re doing is best for your current and future happiness and satisfaction.

Making value-based decisions, goals and setting directions and visions may not always be easy, but the upside is, you get to make choices you know are right, FOR YOU! Because you deserve a life and a business that is awesome!

Let me know how you go!

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