When last have you defined or refined your values? You know, the filters by which you judge good & bad, right & wrong? Are you truly living in synch with them?
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Are you living and working your life in alignment with your values? I call my values the “standards and rules” we set ourselves by which, together with our beliefs, we measure or judge “good and bad” as well as “right or wrong”. They form part of our identity. They form part of our integrity. They shape our lives and guide our purpose.
When last have you checked in with your values? Living and working out of line with them can be a major contributor to your procrastinating and even result in affecting our health and well being.
I’m surprised at how many people have either never consciously done a values exercise; or if they did one through a training course at work often many years ago, that they have never revisited them. Our values grow with us. The concept of “walk a mile – see a mile” applies here and as our maturity grows, so we are better able to fine-tune our values. They usually also differ between our personal life and our work life.
There are a few important factors I would like you to consider here too. One is whether you are “aspiring” to your set of values, often based on the expectations of others around us – maybe our parents or family or others that may have an influence over us; or whether you are actually “living them”. There is a big difference between the two.
The other is whether your value is something you are moving away from, with other words avoiding something you don’t want or whether it is something you are moving towards, being something that you do want. Values are best formulated in the positive. Like valuing health rather than valuing not being ill.
Living congruently and in-congruently with our values
In our “normal” way of life, where we are in Balance, we live congruently with everything being in harmony. There are no internal conflicts. We are focused. We are living in alignment with our values. When we want something in this state “it’s all good”. Small children best show us how to do this uninhibitedly, don’t they? If they want something, they go after it with all they’ve got. No guilt; no conflicting value questions. No mind chatter. Just sheer joy and pursuit.
However, values and beliefs can also lead us into conflict:
- We might believe in a value so strongly that we expect everyone else to share the same value, and fiercely argue and defend it if they don’t. This can be the source of being overly self-righteous.
- And our values can also lead to strong internal conflicts where we might be torn in different directions between two values. For example – if you need to trade off loving what you do for a living with a better paid job you really don’t like, when you really need the money to meet your obligations.
- We can also find ourselves at odds with the values with some policies of the company we work for. For instance if in a sales role we feel obliged to engage in huge pressure tactics, even bribes, to achieve an outcome the company really needs, irrespective of the personal consequences.
This is where we need to allow our intuition to come into play. There can be a real risk that we start to rationalize more practical options (you do remember that to “rationalize” is akin to “telling ourselves rational lies”, don’t you?) that are strongly influenced by specific needs.
Values as Signposts
In NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) we learn to reflect on situations where we were completely congruent and go back in our mind to a specific example. Perhaps remembering when you were “chasing” something very pleasurable and completely aligned with your values, and remembering that feeling so that you can leverage it into what you need or want to do next.
Conversely, perhaps you can recall or visualize the specific feeling you felt, or thoughts you thought, or sounds you heard or what you were saying to yourself when you were pursuing something in conflict with your values?
In either case, it would be very useful to be able to recall this “feeling”, sometimes manifesting in certain physical experiences like a tingling up your spine, or feeling your hair on your arms or neck rising or maybe even a feeling in the pit of your stomach or base of your sternum. Being able to recognize these can be massively useful as specific signs of your being congruent or incongruent. This is what I call “intuition” (what I also call: “what my tummy is telling me”).
If you are able to do this, they can be used as a great checkpoint for yourself before you make important decisions. Like an “early warning system”.
By the way, I have found that true congruence or harmony comes when we have “head, heart and tummy” aligned.
Doing the Values Exercise
I have an initial free no obligation exploratory chat with every one of my coaching prospects in which we both can assess whether we are the right people who want to work together. If we do, that is followed up with a pre-coaching questionnaire based on what it is that they wish to achieve out of a coaching program, and is used to help frame the agenda for that journey. Every questionnaire includes the values question, which I am happy to share with you right now:
I refer them to: http://www.stevepavlina.com/articles/list-of-values.htm for a long list of possible values and ask them to refine that list down to pick their top 10. Why don’t you do that for yourself? It will take some time to do properly, but I am very sure that you will find it a valuable exercise.
And what I usually also suggest is that you have your partner do it independently of yourself and sit down and discuss these values and what they mean to you as individuals as well as in your relationship(s).
Why not have a go? Why not invest some time this evening or this coming weekend and do the exercise? At worst it could help you recognize areas in your life or work that could potentially be affecting your happiness, health and well being. At best you will be able to assess and appreciate or maybe restore your balance. What if you could?
There are a few related blog articles to this topic that you may also find interesting: