Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on May 7, 2020

How To Find Your Personal Values For Living a Fulfilling Life

How To Find Your Personal Values For Living a Fulfilling Life

What’s important to you? Your morning coffee? Making time to walk your dog? Getting that assignment to your boss on time?

Okay, but what’s valuable to you?

According to Atlantic Magazine, 7 out of 10 Americans say people’s values have been getting worse in America over the past decade.[1]

What are your personal values?

What Are Values?

Your values are a testament to your true self because they are what matters most to you when it comes to your personal and professional life.

Your values influence that little voice in your head that tells you whether or not to care about something and how you should prioritize your time.

Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work.[2]

Your core values help determine what you truly want out of life, while simultaneously acting as the measuring stick you use to tell if you’re satisfied with your current situation and living in a meaningful way. Core values define who we are while helping us find our purpose.

Here are a few good examples of the core value words:[3]

Advertising

  • Reliability
  • Dependable
  • Respectful
  • Loyal
  • Committed
  • Teamwork
  • Caring
  • Adventurous
  • Efficient
  • Listening
  • Diversity
  • Humility

Some of these values are instilled in you from childhood. They can be cultural or learned through watching your family and hearing their discussions about things they’re passionate about.

Perhaps now, in adulthood, you realize you’re passionate about those same things. It’s not a bad thing to share core values with those around you, but it can be detrimental to live a life that doesn’t honor those values.

How Do Core Values Affect Our Day-to-Day Decisions?

We make decisions based on our values every day, but we sometimes forget about the important decisions we face, big and small, and the potential stress those choices can create.

When you can identify your values and make choices that align with them, life suddenly becomes a little easier. But when you’re running on autopilot and not allowing your values to coincide with your choices, you can find yourself becoming incredibly unhappy, and maybe you don’t know why.

Discovering your core values don’t help with huge aspects alone, they impact seemingly small things, too. Remember that thing you bought that you didn’t really need, but you just felt like having?

You decided that spending money wisely was not valuable to you.

But is that truly how you feel?

Now it’s the end of the month and bills are due. Perhaps it would be really helpful to have that money back, so it’s created stress. That disconnect stems from living a life that doesn’t correlate with your core values.

When you begin to make those choices that seem small at the time knowing what you find valuable, you begin to feel less stress in other aspects of your life. This has a snowball effect that leads to continued better choices and prolonged stress-free existence. And the best part is, there’s no hard work needed, just some introspection and self-awareness.

Advertising

And if simply sitting alone for a few minutes could impact the rest of your life positively, wouldn’t it be worth it? After all, knowing your values help you make important decisions, like accepting a job, starting a business, or making a big change, much easier.

How Do We Find Out Our Personal Core Values?

Core values are important to us. By figuring out the things which matter to us most, we can lead a better life. Here are two ways to find out your personal values:

Start With What You Already Know About Yourself – Your Morals.

Knowing your core values can certainly sync up with your morals. After all, your values have a direct impact on your standards of behavior.

Think about it: if it is morally important to you to arrive at your workplace and focus on nothing but work on company time, it will also be true that being an honest and efficient employee is a value you carry to every job you occupy.

Maybe you’re the kind of partner who puts their phone away when on a date. This probably means you are a morally loyal person and want to ensure your partner knows you value time with them.

This is a strong indication that, as a core value, you put relationships first and work hard to show people you care. You could easily list respect and commitment to your list of personal core values.

Your Own Experience Will Be Your Best Tool in Realizing What’s Valuable to You.

For instance, think back to a time you were the happiest.

Why were you so happy? Was the fulfillment you felt due to other people? Who were they?

Think about when you were proud of yourself, and why you felt that pride. Your own experiences can shine a great light on what you hold important.

Advertising

And don’t be afraid to look ahead. What values do you want to exemplify to your children?

If you want others to value it, it’s valuable to you.

What Should I Do With My Core Values?

Just sit down and make a list of what comes to mind, and let yourself explore those core values words. There is no set limit on how many values you can have, but allow yourself to list as many as you can.

Prioritize Your Values

If you wind up with 20 words, consider crossing out those that barely made the list and prioritize your values.

Personal development blogger Steve Pavlina suggests identifying the top value, then the second-highest value, and so on until you’ve rebuilt the list in order of priority from the top to the bottom.[4]

As you’re trying to prioritize the values, have this question at the back of your mind:

If I have to choose from these, which one goes first and which one I can live without?

Some of the words may easily float to the top, whereas others might stump you. Allow that to happen, and accept that it aids in teaching you who you are.

Look to Your Values Every Day

Once you’ve determined what your values are, it’s vital to look to them every day. We all face challenging situations and decisions, and Sam Whittaker put it best when he wrote,

Advertising

All [people] are thrust into tough situations from time to time…situations where the right thing to do isn’t obvious. Knowing which values are most important to you before these situations arise will help make you make better decisions.[5]

So, let your values be valuable to you. Everyone is on their own path, and no one can tell you what your core values are but you.

Don’t Be Afraid to Rework Your List in the Future

When you realize your values and begin to live by them, you may find that not all of them are as important as you believed.

Rework your list! You’re allowed to consciously change your values over and over again.

Final Thoughts

You are not your values. You are the thinker of your thoughts, but you are not the thoughts themselves. Your personal values are your current compass, but they aren’t the real you.[6]

Remember:

Tour values should aid in creating your best life, and your most authentic self.

You make the rules. Be patient with yourself and dedicate the time to discovering your core values. You’ll be amazed at the things you can accomplish.

Discover Your Personal Values

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The Atlantic: 21 Charts That Explain American Values Today
[2] MindTools: What Are Your Values?
[3] ContentSparks: Big List of Core Value Words
[4] Steve Pavlina: Living Your Values Part 1
[5] Sam Whittaker: How to Define Your Personal Values
[6] Steve Pavlina: Living Your Values Part 1

More by this author

Heather Poole

Heather shares about everyday lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

How To Find Your Personal Values For Living a Fulfilling Life The 7 Types of Learners: What Kind of Learner Am I? What If All the Choices You Make Every Day Aren’t What You Need Most? What To Eat (And Not To Eat) When You Are Suffering From Inflammation! Yes Life Can Be Boring Sometimes. But There’re Some Tricks to Make It More Interesting

Trending in Mental Strength

1 How to Fight Your Irrational Fears and Stay Strong 2 5 Simple Steps to Cultivate a Positive Mental Attitude 3 The Guided Morning Meditation for Beginners (That Will Change Your Day) 4 The 5 Most Important Things in Life You’ll Regret Not Pursuing 5 Why Does Life Suck So Bad Sometimes? (And How to Fix It)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on November 12, 2020

How to Fight Your Irrational Fears and Stay Strong

How to Fight Your Irrational Fears and Stay Strong

I could hear my baby crying but was frozen in the doorway, unable to move. The crying got worse and I knew that unless I comforted the infant soon the baby would be inconsolable, and yet my feet wouldn’t move. I didn’t look at the crib but the floor in front, where the venomous hairy monster sat….okay it was a UK spider so very unlikely to kill me at all, and yet still my body was frozen as the tears fell down my face. “What a useless mother you are,” I berated myself as I faced these irrational fears.

My fear of spiders had not been controlled for years, and I was at the stage where I wouldn’t open a newspaper until my husband had read it and removed the images of spiders. I hated houses that had wooden floors or skirting boards because every knot in the wood could be a spider about to crawl across me.

At the height of my fear, I tried to get out of a moving car. Clearly this harmless 8-legged creature had massive levels of power over me, but now that the fear is gone, I’m never going to love spiders, but I’m not going to leave the room because of one, and I can read the word without freaking out and sobbing.

If you think that fear is irrational, what about the fear of going to airports? Or the fear of not asking for help?

Today I want to look at how our irrational fears impact us, and how they can destroy our success. They can damage our health and even stop us from living our lives. And then I’ll share the benefits of fighting that fear and, most importantly, how you can fight your fears, too.

How Irrational Fears Impact Your Life

The thing about irrational fears is that we are not keen to look at the particular object or situation causing them as it causes a great deal of distress. It makes us feel inadequate, weak, and silly because we can’t do things that it seems everyone else can. That gives the fear power.

Fear loves negative emotions and saps up yours, making your fear bigger and uglier and even more powerful. Not ideal to say the least. Fears can cause us to do any of the following:

Avoid Certain Situations

If you know you may have to face your fear, you can find yourself dodging parties, new jobs, or new experiences where you aren’t sure you will be able to protect yourself.

Hinder Sleep

We may have trouble falling asleep, thinking the thing we fear will “get us in the night.” For me this was massive, and I stopped sleeping, which had massive implications when my job was to look after a toddler and a baby. I felt half dead most of the time!

Experience High Levels of Stress and Anxiety

Stress can be the cause of unhealthy decisions. Drinking alcohol when we shouldn’t, eating chocolate because it makes us feel better…the list of excuses that we hold on to is long so that we can avoid the cause of our stress. These high levels of anxiety can even lead to panic attacks or a long-term anxiety disorder.

If we experience long-term stress and anxiety from our fears, it can cause health issues that may extend far beyond the times we are actually feeling fear[1].

Advertising

Irrational fears can cause long-term stress effects

     

    Negative Thinking and Mental Distress

    Having irrational fears can damage our confidence. Having coached thousands, I know that a lack of confidence is usually the underlining impactor on most people’s success across all areas of their lives.

    Seeming Aloof

    We risk looking aloof or arrogant because we won’t participate like other people. Our fears can even isolate us in our personal and professional lives, too.

    Feeling Debilitated

    Needless to say, these fears may look irrational and shouldn’t exist to the outside world, but to the sufferer they are debilitating. They can ultimately impact their earning potential, love life, hobbies, travels and personal and professional success.

    Why Bother Fighting the Fear?

    Couldn’t you just ensure you live your life in a way that you don’t have to deal with your fear?

    I had a client that was so scared of flying that they couldn’t even take their partner to the airport. I had another who had avoided public speaking for over 20 years and yet now, at the height of their profession, they had no choice. There was another who could never ask for help, and another who feared people finding out who they really were.

    All these fears and many more can be fixed, but only if we can appreciate the benefits of fighting the fear.

    If you’re going to change the way you do something that has impacted your life, thoughts, and actions for years, it can be hard to believe change is possible.

    The first thing you must do is give yourself a big enough reason why. Go back through your life and remember all the occasions that this fear was there.

    Remember the feelings, the actions, the negative feelings you felt afterwards. Really experience the fear. Make it so painful that you probably notice your heart racing, your shoulders drawing up, and your breath changing. That fear is causing physical change in your body; doesn’t feel good, does it?

    Advertising

    When the irrational fear is challenged and destroyed, it can’t have power over you. New opportunities can come your way, and instead of fearing them, you can be open to new hobbies, more travel, or expanded job opportunities. You can plan on being happier, healthier, and more confident.

    How to Stop Irrational Fears

    In my book Fight the Fear: How to Beat Your Negative Mindset and Win in Life, I cover 12 of the biggest fears that I see impact success and happiness. Not all of these are obvious, but they all have far-reaching consequences.

    Here are some of those ideas to help you fight your fear and get more of what you want out of life:

    1. “Why I’m Awesome”

    Creating a 2-page handwritten document of why you are awesome can help. This document will be packed with achievements, successes, overcoming adversity, and all of those will be full of positive emotions, actions, and feelings. It is not easy to write; however, it is a powerful reminder that you can stand up and accomplish something.

    2. Draw out Your Emotions

    Earlier, we looked at how irrational fears can damage every aspect of our lives. If you were to follow the negative spiral down, you can follow the positive spiral up again.

    I draw these individually for clients, and with each action, thought, or feeling, we put an arrow between them. Each arrow is an opportunity to do something different. If we know that irrational fear is an automatic thought process, then we can start to see that we need to think, do or feel something different.

    3. Acknowledge That You Need to Change

    It’s not easy to change, and that is a belief that many hold. Remember that when you want to do, think, or feel differently, you’ve already achieved the first step, and that is recognizing something must change (you don’t need to know what).

    Then, it’s about acknowledging it. That means not only accepting it, but feeling that it is yours to take on and change.

    There will be times when you fail. Instead of berating yourself, just start again and take a look at the list you made in step 1. 

    4. Choose Your Words Carefully

    Any thought that gives power to your fear takes away power from you to fight it. Therefore, choose how you word your goal to overcome your fear carefully[2].

    Think thoughts like “I remember when I achieved X, and that reminds me I’m far tougher and more capable than I give myself credit for.”

    Advertising

    Talk yourself up to overcome fears

      You can practice cultivating positive self-talk with this article.

      5. Believe That You Have the Control

      The only person that can control what we think and feel is us.

      If you really think about that for a moment, can you see that you have the right to think and feel anything you want right now? I’m certain you wouldn’t choose pain, fear or anxiety. So, what would you choose to think about your fear?

      6. Put up Physical Reminders

      Physical reminders or visuals can be great for reorienting the mind toward overcoming irrational fears.

      For example, the CEO who was petrified of public speaking but could handle a conference call with 300 without a second thought imagined the microphone was a phone when they spoke in front of 400 people to help reinforce the positive thoughts and ideas we’d created.

      The client that always worried that they were an imposter and “someone else can do this better” pinned on their office wall a tag cloud of all the words that made up their “Why I’m awesome” document.

      They had a daily reminder. They were the right one for the job, and they could do it.

      What would be your visual clues to remind you that you can overcome this?

      7. Change Your Environment

      Music, natural environment, and even smells can impact the way we think and feel. Know the music that makes you feel alive, calm, and ready for anything. Try aromatherapy oils to feel positive and energized. Even choose your work environment or clothing to empower you.

      Giving yourself physical reminders toward action can help power up your emotional state, too.

      Advertising

      8. Don’t Go It Alone

      The fear to ask for help is very real (and has a whole chapter in my book), so I know people really struggle with this. The fact is we all need people. We are not insular by design, and as such it can be tough to admit that you have irrational fears that you need help with.

      However, sharing your intense fear with a trusted friend, colleague, loved one, or mental health professional can mean that when you are feeling the fear, you can talk to someone. It could be that you share with them the contents of your tool kit and ask their permission to be added to it. That way they know what works for you and how to best support you.

      It’s not a sign of weakness to tell people about your specific phobia. It takes massive levels of strength to say, “I have this fear, and I want to get rid of it.”

      9. Pay Attention to Your Body

      One of the reasons that a fear can escalate is because we have come to accept that response. Our body reacted in a certain way, repeated the behavior, and formed a habit that was accepted.

      Challenging a fear can be done using our body when we appreciate that fear is actually a reaction inside our bodies. We don’t need to understand where in our brains or what chemicals are racing through us to use our physicality to help us challenge our fears.

      When I was writing my book, the Cuddy Superhero pose[3] was proved and disproved by various researchers around the world 3 times. Whether it’s real or not, the fact is the way we stand, the way we breathe, and even the speed at which we speak can impact us, as well as those around us.

      If you have a fear of public speaking, or a fear of people thinking you are stupid, or a fear of what people are thinking, you can look at how you speak, stand, and move. If you compare these with people you deem confident and happy in these situations, how do you look? What can you learn?

      The research around placebos reinforces the idea that if it feels like it’s working, then keep doing it! What could you use to help reinforce your power and fearlessness?

      Final Thoughts

      A little fear can be good. However, when irrational fears become debilitating, it’s time to take a long look at what you can do to undermine their power over your life.

      Despite having an absolute hatred of public speaking 10 years ago, I now love an audience, and yet I have a healthy level of fear. That level of fear ensures that I prepare well, do my best to understand my audience, and push myself to deliver a great speech. Those thoughts are all sensible.

      As you aim to reduce your irrational fears, cultivate a healthy sense of fear to help you achieve success.

      More About Fighting Fears

      Featured photo credit: Isaiah Rustad via unsplash.com

      Reference

      Read Next