In goal-setting people often talk about the importance of your own values, but at the beginning it was really hard for me to understand what values really are and how important they are. I did some research on this topic and here is what I have found:
By defining your personal values, you have a much better sense of what is important to you and what you believe in. This has a great impact on your decisions and determines whether or not you are happy with your life right now.
What are values?
Values are the things you believe in and that are important to you personally. Everybody has different values and therefore must determine on their own what they are. When you think about typical decisions you make this point will be much clearer: Let’s say you and your friend go to the grocery store with different values. You value health much higher than your friend why he values money much higher. This has a significant impact on your decisions because you will most likely decide to buy the things good for your health, without looking at the price too much, while your friend might buy things just because they are cheaper than others.
Values determine your priorities. Only when your actions meet your values, you can be happy. If you are not satisfied with your life right now, it can be very helpful to first determine and understand your core values. You should also be aware of the fact that your values change over time. At young age, for example, people value their carriers very high, but as soon as you found a family, your values might change. It will be much more important to you to spend time with your kids and to see them grow up. After your kids move out, your values will again change, making your marriage or your passions more important.
Defining your values
To define your core values it really helps to ask questions and answer them honestly. For this example, I will use some questions from the book “Maximum Achievement” by Brian Tracy. Please take some time to answer them as they could be the foundation of your values. If you think there are some parts missing, feel free to add your own questions.
- What are your three most important goals right now?
- How would you spend your time if you learned that you only had six months to live?
- What would you do if you win a million dollar cash right now?
- What have you always wanted to do, but been afraid to attempt?
- What do you most enjoy doing? What does satisfy you personally?
- What one great thing would you dare to dream if you knew you could not fail?
As I said there might be some questions missing for you, talking about different areas in your life, but the questions listed above should give you a direction of what kind of questions to ask to get to your personal values.
If you find it hard to find the right words to describe your values, here are some examples:
Happiness, health, wealth, success, respect, status, faith, honesty, influence, control, balance, fun, peace, love, freedom…
If you have identified your core values, you should order them by priority. This is very hard to do and might take some time. But doing this is necessary for you to find out your major beliefs are and to make better decisions in your life.
How to do it?
Let’s say you have made a list of three main priorities: health, freedom, and wealth.
How do you find out which one of these values is the most important to you?
You start by asking questions and comparing the values: If I would be very wealthy but not healthy, would I be satisfied with my life?
– Think about it and answer the question. If your answer is “yes“, you value wealth over health, if your answer is “no“, you value health over wealth. Now you keep asking and comparing:
If I would be healthy but not free, would I be happy? If I would be free but not wealthy…
After doing this you can make a list of your core values:
I find this a very good technique to truly find your most important value. If you have ten values, this could take forever, that’s why I suggest you find out the five values you find most fitting to you and then using this technique on them.
Why values are important
Having clear values helps you to create your future. When you know what is important to you, you will be able to make much better decisions in your life. Make sure your top priority values match your life because only then you can truly be happy. You will be more satisfied in your life and with your choices. You will also have much more control, because now you can commit to certain actions, for example going to the gym when your top value is health. It also motivates you to do the things you really want.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of how values influence your life and how important they are for you to make the right decisions. If you have some more ideas on how to identify your goal, please let me know. I would also appreciate corrections of my language and grammar since English isn’t my primary language. Thank you very much!