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Why Our Personal Values Matter More Than Ever Today

Why Our Personal Values Matter More Than Ever Today

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 matter most to you when it comes to 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.

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Core values define who we are while helping us find our purpose. Here’re a few good examples of the core value words:[3]

  • Reliability
  • Dependable
  • Respectful
  • Loyal
  • Committed
  • Teamwork
  • Caring
  • Adventuros
  • 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 also impact seemingly small things, too. Remember that thing you bought that you didn’t really need, but you just felt like having? You made the decision 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.

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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, and 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. And if simply sitting alone for a few minutes could impact the rest of your life in a positive way, wouldn’t it be worth it? After all, knowing your values 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’re two ways to find out your personal core 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 fulfilment 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 great light on what you hold important.

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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 suggested 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 go first and which one I can live without?

Some of the words may easily float to the top, where as 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,[5]

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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.

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 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.

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

Remember: Your 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.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

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

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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