Wednesday, August 25, 2010

V is for Values

Until you have pinpointed your personal values you cannot find true success. Part of any success formula is being both aware of and in sync with your values. Do you know what your values are? Have you really spent time thinking about the values that are truly important to you? Ask someone about their values and you’ll likely receive answers such as honesty, integrity, hard work, commitment, etc. These sound good but are they what make you tick; do they really drive your life?

In my mind, your true values are the ones that make you change your behavior. For instance, if you strongly value helping others you would stop your car and help another motorist change a flat tire or drive them to the closest gas station and back if they ran out of gas.

To really define your internal values takes time. It takes a fair bit of introspection and then discussion with friends and family. This is not a simple ten minute exercise. We are talking about principles that will guide you for the rest of your life. The more time you invest in the discovery/definition process the better you will come to understand yourself and what is truly important to you. Once defined your value system can be used to help guide and steer you into the future. Consider options and make decisions based upon your value system and you cannot go wrong. Your choices may be different from someone else’s but you can be comfortable in the knowledge that you have made the right decision based upon those values that are most important to you.

Make a commitment to yourself, here and now, that you will work through this process. Pick a time and a quiet place to think. Take a pad of paper and begin by writing down what you think your values are. Start with words or phrases. Brainstorm a little and do not edit what you write. It may take some time to get started but once you get going you’ll find quite a few ideas come forth. Put the pad away for a day or two and then come back again and write down the most clear and concise definitions for each word or phrase that you can. Take your time. Make sure that you agree with the written definitions.

Again put the pad away for a couple of days and then come back and study your list. Circle the ones that resonate the most with you. These are your strongest values. Review your list with supportive family or friends. Ask if they feel your listed values are an accurate reflection of what influences your behavior. Listen to their feedback – others see your actions every day. They can tell you if you are honest and accurate or are off the mark. You need reality here and those around you can most easily provide it.

This is not a simple or quick process. If it is, I would challenge that you are really only scraping the surface and you need to think more deeply about your value system and what values you will not compromise on. When you have found values that you simply will NOT compromise on you have found your reality. Bring these up to the surface, clearly define and embrace them. They are a true reflection of what guides your heart and your mind. Stay true to them and you’ll find your path will get much easier and much more clearly defined.

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