I’m currently involved in the filming of the SA TV show #marriedatfirstsight that is to be aired in Feb 2017.
Whilst interviewing a number of the candidates what struck me the most was how few people actually know what their values are.
Surely this is something we should all be living daily through our words, actions and behaviours?
The Oxford dictionary gives an explanation of values as: “a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.”
Values act as our inner moral compass to keep us on course every single day, so that each day, we’re moving in the direction that takes us closer and closer to our definition of the “best” life we could possibly live and what is truly important to us in life.
Our values may change as we move through different life stages and our priorities shift and that’s ok. What’s important is that you have values as these align with your vision and purpose (i.e. your goals).
As your goals change so too will your values e.g. if you were focused on your career but now feel like you have achieved the level you wanted and now you would like to settle down, then your values and priorities will adjust accordingly.
Just to be clear, values provide a deep sense of ongoing direction for our lives – they are not ends in themselves. Goals are things that we wish to complete or achieve – they are often ends in themselves.
The other day I was working with a client who said that family was important to him and he listed it as one of his values, yet when we broke this down even further, it became evident that his priorities were not aligned with his values as he spent every weekend on the golf course and very little quality time with his family.
If you fail to focus your energy on the goals that are truly important to you, some of them will fall away and that’s a heavy price to pay.
Tony Robbins refers to another level when it comes to values and that is what we call the ‘towards’ values (i.e. that you strive to feel) and the ‘away’ values (i.e. the feelings you will do anything to avoid).
The quality of our lives is not only determined by our goals and aspirations but also by the situations we try to avoid. For example, if you want to avoid feeling rejected, your actions and behaviour will do everything to avoid experiencing this feeling (e.g. being overly generous or nice, always putting others and their needs before your own needs etc).
We can also attach conditions to our values and emotions for example, we do things to feel accepted/loved yet internally we don’t really believe we deserve to be loved. So while we may get the external response from others (e.g. someone says well done you did a great job), internally we don’t believe it so we tend to dismiss it or downplay it.
We need to make sure our conditions for experiencing our values are not completely under the control of others and/or external circumstances. We need to control our values and conditions.
We can do this by being flexible and having many conditions/rules for our values to be met in many different ways. Design your rules to make it easy to experience your values repeatedly (e.g if your highest value is love, then a rule/condition could be: every time I hug my child/talk with my friends I will feel loved vs. I will only feel loved when someone tells me they love me).
Make sure that your rules/conditions are a barrier to protect your happiness and not detract from your happiness. By making it difficult to fulfill the conditions of your ‘away’ values e.g. a break-up does not mean you have been rejected/are not good enough/not loved etc, it just means that person never saw your value/worth or perhaps was not prepared to work through the issues and you cannot control that. A rule could be ‘I will only feel rejected when the 3 people I admire the most (i.e. my mentors) tell me they hate me.
Here is a great online values exercise by Dr Dimartini which comprises 13 questions that will help you to narrow down and define your values as well as whether you are living up to them or not (like my golfing client).
Live by your values and everything else will fall into place!