Values Matter: 3 Reasons And How To Live Yours With Intention
Let’s talk about values. We can define a value as the consideration something deserves—the importance, worth, or usefulness of something. Values are everything. They drive every single thing you do—big, small and everything in between. Here, we’re going to explore all the wonderful reason why values matter in your life—today and tomorrow.
We don’t usually decide our values. Our values just are. Values are largely unconscious and they drive our behavior via the beliefs, thoughts, and emotions that sprout from them.
Here are some reasons why values matter:
1. Our values motivate and inspire everything we do
And they inspire our actions whether we’re aware of it or not. Becoming intimately familiar with your values will help you gain clarity and focus in making decisions and taking deliberate action. The whole point of identifying your core values is to improve the results you get in the life-areas that are most important to you.
Time is our most finite resource and values support us in prioritizing how we spend our time. Once our day is gone, it’s gone forever. An excellent way to identify our values is to take a hard look at how we spend our time. As an example, if you say that you want to quit your 9-5 job and grow your side business, how much time are you spending in your side business? If you look back at the past week, did you spend any time at all working on an exit strategy?
2. Values create the framework for our lives
We’re all living according to a set of values. Beyond our personal lives, companies, societies, families, charities, all have values. Everyone has a set of core values plus a specific to different aspects of our lives, like career and relationships, health, family, achievement, success, and on and on.
3. Values dictate the choices you make and determine the direction that your life takes
Even if you’re unaware of your driving values, they influence all your decisions—even the decision to read this article. Despite this importance, few people consciously decide what they value. Instead, most of us just assume the values of our childhood role models—parents, grandparents, media, companies trying to sell us stuff we don’t need.
The core values you were exposed to as a child are likely still with you today. While some people turn their backs on childhood values, there’s usually at least a few we’re unaware of running things in the background.
Your current set of values are like the GPS in your car telling you to go left, go right or make a u-turn. They’re treading you down a specific path. To pinpoint what these values are, all you have to do is take a look at the state of your life to identify similarities between you now and the environment you grew up in as a child. And then ask yourself if the path you’re on is taking you where you really want to go.
How to identify your values
Now that we know why values are important we can spend some time getting to know ours. The question to discover your values is simple. Ask yourself, “What’s important to me?” Your values lie in your responses. In my work with private coaching clients, we go way deeper to uncover all the unconscious values they don’t even think they have. Here are some questions to help you do a little unearthing on your own:
1. What values did your parents impart?
2. How are your childhood influences dictating what’s important to you today?
3. What specifically brings you joy?
4. Do your values support your success?
5. Where do you live? What compelled to live there?
6. How do you spend your time? What purpose does spending your time in this way serve?
7. How do you spend your money?
8. What do you love talking about? Food, family, business, travel, society, politics, religion, gossip?
Values are NOT synonymous with beliefs.
Deconstructing your values
Let’s take your values and pull them apart bit-by-bit. Now, I have to tell you that there are a bunch of articles that say that values stem from beliefs or that values and beliefs are synonymous—they’re wrong. Values are largely unconscious and outside of our awareness. While we’re usually conscious of our beliefs, they’re an expression of the value—a way to live the essence of that value. In the same way that thoughts are an expression of the beliefs from which they’re born, and emotions are the first potentially visible evidence of this expression, and ultimately the actions or behaviors (that align with the emotions, thoughts, beliefs, and ultimately the value)—are the culmination and most tangible evidence of this integration.
To deepen our understanding of the values our parents shared with us—creation, success, prosperity, education, spirituality, relationships. Consider how your parents lived and how those values very likely became yours by default. Were you praised for getting straight As in school or for trying your best? Did your parents spend beyond their means to keep up with the Joneses? Or were they the Joneses?
Dealing with conflicting values
Compromising our most important values is where we can become the most vulnerable and disempowered. If you’re in a committed partnership, think back to any of your conflicts. Chances are they had to do with a conflict in values.
What’s important to us may not be important to our partner, yet sometimes we stand our ground, do what we “know” is “right” often regardless of the consequences. Compromising our most important values for the sake of the relationship can lead to a sense of losing ourselves and we may not be able to pinpoint that the cause came out of a compromised value. Yet, one of the greatest benefits of being in a partnership is new perspective, especially when it comes to values. Sometimes the conflicts shed light on values that although served us before have outlived their usefulness.
The next time you have a disagreement with your partner, ask yourself this question: “Whose value is more important as it relates to this conflict?” This will help you figure out if the respective values you’re poking by fighting it our are more meaningful to them or you. Is it more important to honor what you consider valuable by standing your ground and fighting, or can you be flexible to let it go while still honoring your core values? Can your partner? Can you simply agree to disagree?
Values can change over time
While our values change over time, this shift is usually unconscious. As kids we probably most valued pleasure, play, and fun. These values probably declined as you grew older and discovered the world of responsibility, expectations and achievement.
As people grow into adulthood, their values likely shift to security, stability or even status and success. The values that fit you just fine as a child no longer serve you as an adult. And what felt right when you were single in college, no longer works when you’re married, with kids, divorced, retired, or dealing with the loss of a family member.
Many of the themes that stay in the background of our lives stay the same over the years, but not all of them. When our values change, it’s essential to examine the different areas of our lives to make sure they’re still aligned with the people we most want to be. If you’re in a committed partnership, do the dynamics of the relationship align with your values? If you begin working with a big corporation in a big city, are their values compatible with yours? If there’s any sort of conflict or anything is out of alignment, then it may be time to make changes to your life or to your values.
We can change our values
Yes, while our values are largely unconscious, you don’t have to go through life with your head in the clouds buying into what society, family, employers, media (and all the other influencers) believe you should value. You’ve already taken the first step in reading this article (go you!) to become more conscious of your values.
Next, you can take some purposeful, focused actions to identify and change any of your values in order to live life more fully. This may call for a good chunk of patience because doing values work on ourselves is a process that usually takes time. And that’s okay because you’re worth it.
The even better news is that you can change your values quickly with some specialized tools—such as Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Time Line Therapy® techniques, and hypnosis. You can learn more about working together to do this here. This article gave you insights into why your values matter and perhaps you’re already starting to question why you value what you value—that’s fantastic! In an upcoming article, you’ll learn some more ways you can intentionally create new values.
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I'm Brenda Terry. I'm a personal development trainer and master coach who works with go-getters like you who want to achieve big results in your business and personal life.
If you're excited and ready to play bigger in business and kill it in life, I help you identify and change beliefs, patterns, and behaviors that aren't supporting your goals so you can make more money, find more joy, better manage relationships, and communicate more effectively.
I'm here to help you make the powerful, effective shifts you're craving- faster than you ever thought possible.