Things aren’t normal. They haven’t been for a while and may not be for a long time. Normal may become something new completely. So how do you move forward? What guides you?
Whether in the middle of flux and a world in upheaval or in times when the world itself seems to be rolling along while you feel the pull of change, personal core values can lead the way.
What Matters Most to You?
Can you name your core values? Is it easy to list what matters most to you? One place to start is to look at a list of values and simply see which resonate. Read through the list slowly. Cross out any values that don’t apply. Circle any that really jump out at you. Add your own value words if you don’t find exactly what you want on the list.
Once you’ve narrowed the list, go through again. What are the top 3–5 values for you?
So now you know your core values — but what do they mean to you?
We might both value family, but have a very different understanding of what that looks like in our lives. Does family mean you, your partner and kids? Does it mean the family you were born into with extended generations? Does it mean a group of intentionally chosen people? And how does valuing family show up in your life? Does it mean dinner together every night? Choosing family needs over other people or events? Loving people even when it’s hard?
Or let’s look at success for another example. Does success mean money, power, prestige? Does it mean reaching personal goals even if they don’t reflect what society or your parents see as success? Is it about reaching milestones or about the effort you put into it?
Why Values Matter
Knowing your values and being really clear on what they mean and what they look like in your life helps you live a life you love. So often we are pulled in different directions. We get stuck in busy or shoulds or other people’s expectations.
We say yes to things because we don’t know how to say no. We say yes to things because they seem important. But we can’t say yes to everything. Using our core values as a guide, we can learn to say yes to things that light us up and engage us, while saying no to things that don’t do that or even drain us.
Connecting your values with what energizes and engages you moves you closer to a meaningful life, a life you truly love. I walk you through that process here: 3 Steps to a Meaningful Life You Love.
Reflecting on Values
Reflective journaling is one of my favorite tools for understanding myself and moving more into alignment with my true self. Take some time to journal on any of these questions/prompts:
- What ______ (fill in with one of your values) looks like in my life?
- I could embrace ________ (fill in with one of your values) more by:
- What I want more of in my life
- What I want less of in my life
These prompts are forward facing. One tool I often use is to look back and reflect. When have I really lived one of my values? When was a value challenged? How did that feel?
Knowing your values is a great first step. Letting them guide you is another.