The Value of knowing your Values - Part I
What gets you out of bed in the morning? No, I’m not referring to your alarm clock, or a boot in the backside from your beloved, or even a wet nose on your face from the dog. Answer – your values.
What do you need in your day to day life for it to have meaning for you? For you to feel ‘settled’ rather than having a sense that something’s missing? What would you stand up and fight for? Answer – your values.
The heart of the matter
Your Personal Values Set, which relates to your heart’s wisdom, are the things that motivate you to take action. If your heart isn’t in your work or your relationship, you’re not going to be willing to do what you need to in order to make it work. You just can’t bring yourself to put the effort in. There’s something missing.
When I start working with a new client we spend the first session getting clear on what their Personal Value Set is, their five Core Values. Sometimes they will tell me they know what these are already, sometimes they tell me what their parents told them was important, and sometimes there’s just a blank face looking back at me. No matter what the starting point, once we’ve actually identified their Core Values they always come as a surprise. At the same time it makes them smile, it feels good to connect with your heart.
Values are personal
In all the times I’ve done this exercise, nobody has had exactly the same five core values (even though they will often say “Well, doesn’t everyone have these?” – the answer is “No”). Your values are your values, nobody else’s. And even if someone did by chance have exactly the same five core values as you, the meaning they attached to each one would be different.
How values help
Understanding this can help you avoid getting frustrated with someone who just doesn’t see the world in the same way you do. You may value serenity, they may value excitement. You may value common sense, they may value adventure. Your definition of success may be achieving balance in your life, their’s might be working all the hours of the day to climb to the top of their career ladder. Neither of you is wrong, you just have different value sets.
You’ll often find it’s easier for you to connect with people who have similar values to you. If you are finding yourself irritated by someone, a clash of values can often explain it.
Not only does understanding your values help you build positive, healthy relationships, but they can guide your decision making around your life and career choices. You will find activities which align to your values feel energising, those that don’t feel draining. In simple terms, if it’s not aligned to your values – don’t do it!
Values in action
So now you know a bit more about Values, I thought I’d introduce myself a bit more through sharing my Values. I had planned on sharing all five in this post, but having only got halfway through my second one and reaching over 1500 words, I think it’s probably best to keep to bitesize portions! I realise that although I love my values, could talk all day long about them and/or why you need to understand and pay attention to yours, they are simply my values. They mean something to me. You may be able to relate to them, or not, and that’s totally fine.
So without further ado, my first core value is:
Independence for me covers a number of areas, none of which means I want to be single or live like a hermit ;o) I confess, I am perfectly happy in my own company (surprise, surprise – introvert here), but I don’t think I’d want to live a lifetime on my own. I suppose when I think about it, independence facilitates my introverted tendencies. Independence allows me to be, well, independent! Breaking this down for me, independence means:-
- I need to be financially independent. This is a bit challenging when you are starting a new career/business from scratch, so when the Somerset Suicide Bereavement Support Service where I’d been volunteering offered me a part-time job I said: “Yes” (plus it hits some of my other values, more on that another day).
- I need to be able to express my opinion and feel it’s been heard and make my own decisions.
- I need to be able to feel what I feel, and not be told to how you think I should be feeling about something.
- I hate being micro-managed – which is why being self-employed was an attractive option for me.
- I need to be able to follow my own thought trails, whether they make sense to you or not – believe me, quite often they won’t!
- I prefer managing my own time, deciding what I want to do and when.
- As a result, I’m not great at surprises. I can be spontaneous, but only when I’ve decided to be. If you want me to spontaneously pop over for coffee, my likely first answer will be “no”!
- Physical independence is key – I don’t want to limit my ability to fully experience life by having a body that can’t do the things I want to do. Joe Pilates expressed it perfectly when he said:
“If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old.
If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young”
- Because physical and mental independence are so important to me (or rather, the possibility of losing my physical and/or mental capacity and ending up in a nursing home where someone else has control over my money, what I eat, when I go to the toilet or go to bed, where I can and can’t go, horrifies me) I will get up earlier just so I can exercise, journal and/or meditate, and learn something new. This isn’t easy for me (I love my bed). I may be a morning person and have always found sunrise a very special time of day, but the only thing that’s motivating me to rise before 5 am day after day is my values.
- Perimenopause has lead me to want to find ways to reduce its symptoms because, again, if I’m not sleeping well because of night sweats it affects my health, and if I’m knackered, my ability to be independent. As a result, I am just beginning to understand the delicate balance of our hormones, how eating the right food can help, and why what I thought was healthy eating is in fact, damaging not only to hormonal balance but also to our brains (more on that in a later post).
- Finally, in my mind, independence includes personal responsibility. If something isn’t working in my life, it’s up to me to fix it (see above, perimenopause). I apply the same value to you (and everybody else). This might sound a bit harsh or uncaring, and it’s not that at all. I don’t mean you have to do it all on your own without support. Not at all, for one thing, I’d be out of a job! What I mean is (and this is something you’ll have already heard me mention before), you have a choice. If I want to remain independent, I have to make the choices that will help me do that. Some things I can manage on my own, others I might need to ask for help with (which can be challenging when you value your independence!). It depends on what matters most.
So there you have it, my number one value and what it means to me. I could have chosen Health, or Freedom (probably the nearest equivalent), or Self-Expression, but they weren’t the right words for me. They wouldn’t have captured everything that’s important to me. Which is why we really have to learn to listen to our hearts, to get clarity, to “know” ourselves more deeply.
I’d love to know what Independence means to you, whether what it means to me makes any sense to you, and whether you’ve found this helpful, so please let me know.