To be successful and achieve all our goals no matter how difficult they may seem, it is first vital that we have a well-defined sense of who we really are.
This is not just because knowing ourselves gives us self-confidence and leads to a strong sense of direction and purpose. But because people with strongly defined personal values are emotionally stronger, know what they want and are prepared to step outside their comfort zone to achieve their goals.
So, how do we discover what our personal values really are?
Here are 5 great tips to help you find them and make a better life for yourself.
#1 Understand the difference between Values and Beliefs
An important first step of the journey is to understand the difference between ‘values' as opposed to ‘beliefs' or ‘behaviors'.
Put simply, our values are the core principles that define us. Whereas our beliefs are those ideas we ‘believe' to be true and our behaviors are our actions i.e. the things we do (or don't do!).
It’s important is to recognize that these aspects of our personality occupy distinct levels.
Our ‘core values' reside at the center of who we really are.
Those less important reside nearer to the surface where they are more easily subject to change or persuasion, along with our beliefs and behaviors.
#2 How you can find your core values
Set aside some private time and write down a list of around 10 of the most significant areas in your life.
These are normally things such as family, friends, health, money, career, intimate relationships, spirituality, social life, recreation, sports, politics etc.
They can be just about anything you deem to be really important. We can call them your ‘means values' as they reflect a means to fulfil a need.
Then look at each ‘mean value' individually, and really think about how important it is to you and why.
But, and this is key, you must be brutally honest.
Consider all the things you do now and have done in the past, how much of your energy is being directed towards each ‘mean value’ and how much it would devastate you if it was suddenly taken from you forever.
#3 Chunk down
It helps if you ‘chunk down’ each value by asking yourself how the value is a means to meet a personal need.
When you have the answer, ask yourself again ‘what does that give to me?'
Do this until you reach a specific emotion, feeling or if you like an ‘end value'.
When you have completed this exercise you should end up with a small list of basic feelings, emotions or drivers that are your ‘core values'.
These are what you have been working towards, probably unconsciously, your entire life.
These may be things such as security, kindness, expertise or even physical perfection.
For example, a significant area in your life might be your health and losing weight, but once you start chunking it down the real driver might be something else other than being healthy, it might be a need to feel attractive and loved.
You then have to chunk down this need to be loved even further.
This is not an easy task and may take some time, but will definitely be worth it.
#4 Become aligned
Once you have established what your true core values are and their priority, you can begin to use them to drive and align your beliefs and behaviors into a corresponding pattern.
You can also start reconciling any previously misunderstood tensions brought about by compromising behavior to fit into different groups, factions or social norms.
Sometimes they also manifest as an inertia or inexplicable fatigue which can occur when some of your values are making opposing demands.
For example, you may be holding down a demanding but secure routine office job yet what you really want to be doing is fulfilling your love of health and wellbeing by being a fitness instructor or similar.
#5 Recognize tensions and expand your potential
With your new found knowledge (of ‘why you are’ and ‘who you are’) and some creative thinking you now can start putting together your values in some sort of rational order.
This order will not only greatly expand your potential by working more harmoniously with your reconciled beliefs and corresponding behaviors, but it will be aligned to your ‘higher purpose' and move you lovingly towards it as one complete person.
At last you will have removed any self-defeating beliefs and behaviors from your path and will be able to obtain your true goals and achieve your highest potential.
So, what are you waiting for? Make some time for yourself today and find out how you can start living in a world full of personal growth and limitless goals.