Personal Development: Your Values or Your Life?

If you had to define your values in five sentences or less could you do it, and imagine that your life depends on this, could you define your values immediately and without thought?  Something important relies on you being able to identify your values and that is the life that you live each day.  If you take a moment to think about your life, answer the questions are you happy, are you content, fulfilled, and satisfied; are you doing the things that you are doing for the right reasons?  Are you taking the time to make sure your values are met, for example: you value friendship, are you taking the time to make sure your friend is okay, and if not maybe your life feels like something is missing and as soon as you talk to your friend everything is back on track.  To re-orient yourself to your values, evaluate the answers to these questions: what are your top five values, how are you living these values and what is one thing you can do today to re-orient and re-commit?If you had to define, in five sentences or less, your values, could you do it? Imagine that your life depends on your being able to define your values immediately and without thought. I’m asking you to imagine such a serious consequence because in some ways your life really does depend on your knowing what your values are and what is important to you.

No one is standing by with a gun to exterminate you if you can’t name your values; I hate those silly games where someone asks, “If I put a gun to your head, what would you say about …” What I’d say is, “PUH-LEAZE don’t shoot me!!!!” I mean, come on.

I’m not asking you to imagine that your actual physical, mortal life depends on your knowing your values and being able to recite them to me in five seconds.

What I’m suggesting is that something just as important relies on your knowing your values. That is the life you live each and every day.

Take a moment and think about your life. Are you “happy”? Do you feel you’re doing the right things, for the right reasons? Is your life fulfilling? Are you satisfied? Content?

If not, can you name the values you hold that are not being realized in your life?

Probably not, and that’s why what you believe holds so much importance in your life. I think there are very few other areas in your life that can have such an immediate impact as taking the time to define your values and realign your life with those values.

Let’s say one of your values is the importance of friendship. I’m not going to be really picky about how values are expressed or worded; let’s just say one of the things you most value in life is friendship. You have a best friend, and email each other several times a week. You talk on the phone and see each other when possible. But lately your best friend has seemed a little detached and distant. You know she’s having problems at work, and you haven’t how she is asked because you have been really busy.

That’s a common situation, and for people who do not hold friendship in the top three of their values, it is not that big a deal. They may care as much about their friend as you care about theirs, but their value system is different, and they would handle the situation differently.

For you, not inquiring about your friend has caused you to feel out of sorts and unsettled. When you check in with your friend, even if it turns out she’s very depressed and needs to see a doctor, your life will immediately feel “back on track” because you’re taking care of your friend as well as you can. You’re living your values.

Stephen R. Covey talks about “principal centered living.” I talk about, and try to live, a values-centered life and lifestyle. Everyone has a different combination of values, and people react differently to situations. But when you’re not living with your values in the middle of your conscious life, you run the risk of leading a less than content life and not knowing why.

How can you re-orient around your values now?

• What are your top five values?
• How are you living these values?
• What one thing can you do today to re-orient and re-commit?

Thanks to Money and Values for including this post in the Carnival of Ethics, Values, and Personal Finance, and to Alex Blackwell of thenext45years for including this in the Personal Development and Happiness Carnival.

Thanks also to Made to Be Great for including this in the Made to Be Great – Personal Development Carnival, Money and Values for including this in the Carnival of Ethics, Values, and Personal Finance, and ask the CareerCounselor for including this post in the Personal Development Carnival.

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