Updated: Dec 16, 2020
Do you know what you stand for? Are you aware of the values you live your life by? Years ago, this question made me stop and think.
Here I was living my authentic life (so I believed at the time) however when I thought about this question, I couldn’t list the values I was aligning my every decision towards. I pondered where my decision-making skills were coming from. What kind of life I wanted to lead? How was I not aware until this moment that I didn’t really have a clue which way my north star was pointing. I set out to really discover my values, and I put emphasis on the word “my”.
As there are different kinds of values that shape our lives. Values placed on us as children that we didn’t have a voice to challenge or understand completely and took on as our own. Values dictated to us by society and what the consensus believes is true and correct. Values we have taken on, unconsciously, through the people we associated with.
What do you surround yourself with?
“What we surround ourselves with influences our thoughts and subsequently behaviors.”
I started researching about values – what’s important to us – and found that I didn’t know what mine were. Yes, I had beliefs and an idea of how to live my life, but when I started to consider all that was coming to mind, I noticed a pattern. These were values that were not consciously made by me. They were relics from others’ influences. So, I set out peeling back everything I had ever believed was important in my life and taking stock on what I genuinely regarded as important to myself and my journey. The results were surprising and revealing. I discovered that most of my decisions were being made by things I thought were expected of me, that were my duty and what I needed to do in ordered to be deemed successful. Not by my own standards, but by those who I’ve never met before, a collective group called society.
Wake up call
This was a colossal wake-up call – I needed to define what was important to me, what were fundamentally my core values. I had many draft lists around the apartment. It had taken years to collect these values that weren’t my own, it would take a moment to reflect on each one that I wrote down to ensure it was my own authentic value. The final list was pages long, but I was excited I had so many things that were important to me. Values that crossed different areas of my life; family, relationships, work, community, faith, health and fitness, money, environment, and purpose.
Prioritize your values
“I did this with the awareness that nothing is permanent, everything is ever changing.”
Now that my list was extensive, I needed to prioritize my values. I did this with the awareness that nothing is permanent, everything is ever changing. What I value the most today can evolve and transform over the years. From that day forward, I would schedule regular upkeep of my values list. It offers me a chance to check in with myself every so often and evaluate what’s important in my life. If I find there are items on my values list that I don’t feel connected to anymore, aren’t aligning with my daily actions or other values have become more of a priority, I change the order of the list. I believe if something is that important to you, you will do something every day to reflect this importance. It could be laughter and joy you value the most, if that’s the case, then find time in your day to watch/listen to something that makes you laugh or do something that brings you joy.
Over the years I have encountered many people who also had never thought about their values in a list worthy way. I mean, we all know what we think is right and wrong from a moral compass, but have you ever sat down with your own thoughts and establish what is profoundly important to you? Do you daily actions and decisions align with your values?