I wonder if you’ve ever thought about what your personal values are? Not many people have even considered it before, yet clarifying your personal values profoundly impacts career planning, decision-making, and the accomplishment of individual goals. There’s significant research over the last several years that indicates that clarifying personal values reduces stress, strengthens willpower, and aids in overcoming significant obstacles to achievement. Identifying your personal values is an essential and vastly under utilised tool for personal and professional development.
So How Do We Define Values?
Here’s one Definition: Values are deeply held beliefs about what is good, right, and appropriate.
Values are deep-seated and remain constant over time. We accumulate our values from childhood based on teachings and observations of our parents, family, friends, teachers, spiritual leaders, and other influential and powerful people.
Values can be defined as broad preferences concerning appropriate courses of action or outcomes. As such, values reflect your sense of right and wrong or what “ought” to be. “Equal rights for all”, “Excellence deserves admiration”, and “People should be treated with respect and dignity” are representative of values. Values tend to influence attitudes and behaviour. Types of values include ethical/moral values, doctrinal/ideological (religious, political) values, social values, and aesthetic values. It is debated whether some values that are not clearly physiologically determined, such as altruism, are intrinsic, and whether some, such as acquisitiveness, should be classified as vices or virtues.
Achievable goals can only be established and pursued if they are in synchrony with your personal values.
You must be clear about your values because they reveal who you are and what values are directly related to the quality and depth of your self-worth.
Some typical values explored in coaching are: harmony, balance, loyalty, achievement, wisdom, integrity, honesty, acceptance, happiness, inclusion, freedom etc.
A Values Assessment Exercise can provide you with:
- A clear understanding of what is important to you and identifying your guiding principles
- A map as to where you are and where you want to go based on your values
- A clearer understanding of why you do what you do
- A better understanding of how you can best interact with others
- Better control of your life and ability to succeed as you clarify your personal values
Why Values Clarification Helps
People who are confused or unclear about their values often have difficulty making important life-decisions, because they tend not to weigh what is most important to them. This is an especially urgent problem today, with all the choices, noise, and mixed messages pulling us in a thousand different directions. We are living in a world of infinite options, which can be wonderful, but also more than a little confusing.
Think about how many decisions, big or small, you make in a day. This choice overload can be utterly overwhelming, especially for someone looking for career direction. This is why a values-based decision-making paradigm is an incredibly meaningful alternative. For instance, if you value organisation, you will work best in an organised work environment. Using deeply held personal values as a life compass will empower you and your clients, if you’re a coach, to make career decisions that are right for the individual.
After surveying the workforce in 142 countries, Gallup concluded that only 13% of employees are engaged at work, and 87% of those surveyed dislike (or even loathe) their jobs. Why, when we now have more career options and resources than ever, are so many people simply going through the motions, and working for the weekend? Why do so many surveys indicate that people are truly dissatisfied with their jobs?
It’s because they are compromising their personal values, most without even realising they’re doing it.
We can truly do meaningful work only when we are living according to our core values!
If you’d like get clarity on your personal values, work through the simple values assessment exercise below:
First, take a few moments to read through the list of values and make an initial list of any values that stand out for you, this will be your baseline to start from and this list may be 15-20 and that’s fine as Steps 1 & 2 will help you cut the list down. I’d also like you to write down your observations, thoughts and feelings about these initial values and why you feel they are important to you right now. remember that this is just the beginning of this process and the list will shorten and change, possibly quite significantly too, so just go with it and see what happens.
Values Exercise Step 1:
What I Value Most…
Value Assessment: From your initial list of values (both work and personal) select the eight – ten that are most important to you. Feel free to add any values of your own to this list if they are not there.
Step 2: Prioritise
Now that you have identified your top eight – ten, write them in order of importance for you from 1 being the most important to 10 being the least important.
Now read the bottom half of your list out loud . If you were offered a job or told that these were the values you were going to live the rest of your life by, would it feel right?
Now repeat this with the top half of your list, if you were offered a job or told that these were the values you were going to live the rest of your life by, would it feel right?
If you chose the bottom half then you need to redo your list or re-prioritise it. This in itself is a very important discovery and helps you to really connect with what is truly important to you, and, you can apply it to anything in life such as a buying a car, choosing a holiday etc.
However, if you chose the top 4-5 as values you felt most comfortable living by then you have done an excellent job in prioritising your values list
- Using the Values List – name 3 values that you move towards and that are important to you (e.g., freedom)
- Name 3 feeling states you wish to avoid (e.g., rejection)
- What values or feeling states do you need to create your destiny? (e.g., self-determination)
- Identify 3 people who have had the greatest impact on your life? What special advice or values remain with you?
- List 3 peak experiences that have profoundly shaped your life/career direction
I hope you found this useful and my next article will be about beliefs and how they are tied to our values.
To your success.