When you embark upon any form of change – switching career paths, moving overseas, starting a new diet or what you are working on – it can feel hard to be truly yourself.
The good news is you have an internal rudder to guide you. Your values.
OK, so how do you find and align to your values? Waahhhoooo there, speedy. Let’s take a step back.
If I were to meet you today, I would be able to see, hear and feel your behaviours. Maybe you’d be polite, reserved, full of energy or overly dominating. Perhaps you would talk a lot, avoid eye contact or drink too much! (Or none of the above!!) But I wouldn’t know what is influencing and shaping your behaviours.
Sitting behind your behaviours are your beliefs – these are things that you hold to be true. You’ve learned them over time, by interacting with others and your environment as well as observing and learning from experience, either your own or other people’s. Your beliefs can drive you forward, empowering beliefs or hold you back, limiting beliefs.
Then deeper into you, behind behaviours and beliefs, sit your values. Values are the things you hold dear and important. They tend to be more conceptual than concrete and can come from your family and friends, religion or spirituality, the environment around you, your outlook on life and so on.
Finding your values is often done with others to give you positive challenge, sources of alternatives or inspiration and to refine your wording. You might work with your partner or a friend, or a coach. To start with, jot down a few words for a time, when:
- you were your best self – what values were you living by?
- you felt constrained or trapped – what values were being denied to you?
- your blood has boiled with frustration or anger – what values were being violated?
- you’ve felt entirely grateful – what values were being honoured?
Do use a few words to describe the concept or sentiment. Don’t worry about nuancing or wordsmithing your language. Give it time to percolate and brew towards perfection; you may find you need to walk away, sleep on it and come back to do a further iteration.
Next, list out any principles or morals that you hold dear. These could be where you draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable, right or wrong or perhaps forgivable and unforgivable.
Once you’re comfortable that you’ve created a list of values, put them on post-it notes and stack them on the wall from most important at the top to less important. This will give you a sense of how they play out in life – we use our values as our rudder depending on the situation in front of us – the more complex, the more values are drawn in to help us decide what we do or don’t do next.
Your internal rudder can lead you to being the real you. Why not try incorporating your values consciously into your change plans to honour them or bringing greater awareness to them everyday. Both can help you be the real you more of the time.
Living your values means having a life less complex, more aligned to your goals and greater happiness.
The added joy is finding others with the same values!
My core values are being genuine, living wholehearted and fairness and I try to sprinkle them through my day.
What are your values and how will you honour them by living your values to be the real you?