What is a Value?
A Value, simply put is about what a person wants to be doing with his/her life. Values guide our behaviour by forming the conscious and unconscious foundation for our decision making. Values are chosen consequences that can never be fulfilled. Rather, they serve as motivation for certain behavioural directions. Whereas goals can be achieved, values cannot be achieved. For example, a value of being creative can never be fulfilled. Even if the person creates a painting (a concrete goal), it would be silly to say, “Now that I have created this painting, I’ve accomplished creativity. Now I’ll proceed with the next thing.” Therefore, values are best formulated as verbs, in that they are not something that is ever fully achieved. For example, a value might be “being creative”.
What do you Value?
Are you aware of what you value? Values are used to help you choose directions for your life that are in line with what is truly important to you and help you construct goals that promote behaviour in those directions. Values are the answer to the question: “In a world where you could choose to have your life be about something, what would you choose?” (Wilson & Murrell, 2004, 135) You may need some “Values clarification”.
Values clarification is a therapeutic technique that is designed to help people make important life decisions (Kirschenbaum, 2013). More specifically, values clarification helps people identify and establish their goals, enhance goal-directed decision-making, and take effective action to implement their decisions and thereby achieve their goals (Kirschenbaum, 2013). Values clarification techniques help people learn more about their underlying motivations for behaviour.
Exercise to explore your Values:
The goal of this exercise is to increase awareness of what really matters to you by identifying your top five life values.
Values are the answer to the questions:
What’s important to you in your life?
What is your life’s purpose?
What do you enjoy doing?
When do you feel satisfied and fulfilled?
Being aware of your values by answering the above questions will help you navigate your life in the direction that you choose. You have the potential to live the life of your dreams, but how do you do this without looking inward?
Understanding our own core values help guide us towards our passions and desires. Please complete the five steps below.
1. Take ten minutes to brainstorm what your own values are without referring to the list on the next page. My values are:
2. Review the values list below and check those values that resonate with you.
3. This list is always a work-in-progress. If you wish, you may add other values from your brainstorming session or those that you think of along the way through this process
4. Now prioritize your values and make a selection of five of your most important values. List your top five values
5. Take about five to ten minutes to think about, or discuss with a friend or your coach, what each of the above values means to you. Then, generate a definition that resonates and makes sense to you.
For eg- Value 1:
What it Means to me:
It Is important to me because:
For eg- Value2:
What it Means to me:
It is important to me because:
Are your Values Conflicted or in Congruence?
Value congruence is the extent to which an individual’s behaviour is consistent with his or her stated value. Although values, by their very definition, are considered to be important (e.g., exercising, spending time with children), your behaviour is often not consistent with your values (e.g., spending more hours in front of the television, working during evening hours, etc.). In order to decrease the discrepancy between values and actual valued living, it is important to create awareness of this discrepancy in the first place.
This exercise can be used to visually represent this discrepancy and offer an effective starting point for designing interventions to decrease the gap between values and value-driven behaviour.
Part 1: Draw a circle and divide it into slices, each representing the amount of time you spend on different elements or areas of your life. The larger the slice, the more time you spend on that area. Typical areas of life include:
Immediate Family, Community, Neighbourhood, Extended Family, Spirituality, Work, Fun & Recreation, Creativity, Personal Development, Goals & Values, Romance & Love, Volunteering, Money, and Health & Exercise.
Feel free to add or remove any of the above items.
This represents your Current Life.
Part 2: Now complete the same exercise, using a second circle but think about where you would actually want to spend your time. What makes you happy? What gives you peace of mind?
This represents your Ideal Life.
Part 3: Take some time to reflect on the following questions as a form of self-evaluation:
1. What’s the difference between your current versus ideal circle?
2. Did you notice any inconsistencies?
3. What prevents you from taking action to make your “current life” closer to your “ideal life”? Are there internal or external barriers? Which barrier is the biggest one for you to overcome right now?
4. How could you align your life with your true priorities? It takes changing and reframing habits to change your life. What small and manageable new practices could you implement to work towards your ideal values circle?
To help you get closer to your ideal, make copies of your ideal wheel and hang it in a place you will see every day. Seeing your ideal wheel on a regular basis will remind you, and help you make values-based decisions daily.
What is the good life?
In the context of life, everyone has a different definition of the word “good.” “Good” depends on many factors like where we live, how we live, what our childhood experiences are, and what character strengths we value in ourselves and others.
For instance, people whose needs for security aren’t met may visualize the “good life” to be a secure environment with meaningful social bonds. However, there are many other factors which play a role, such as values.
It can be argued that your values are one of the drivers of what you perceive to be the good life. Values such as power, security, tradition, or benevolence are a collection of principles that guide our selection or evaluation of actions, events, and people and what we “deem to be correct and desirable in life” (Schwartz, 1992).
If security is one of your core values, rather than the freedom to travel to exotic countries, a secure job may be your idea of “the good life.” Or if one of your core values is achievement, you may find yourself working incredibly hard, and finding meaning through your work.
To a certain extent, values codetermine what we consider the good life.
But once we have the secure job that we believe is desirable, do we actually consider ourselves to be leading the “good life?” Why are so many humans disillusioned after they get everything they want?
The “good life,” so it seems, has many different aspects to it. Personally, I love spending time in nature. The sense of awe watching the sunrise in the morning makes me feel alive, the time I spend with family and friends is very precious, and writing my blog while the sun is shining through the window is the “good life” taking place right this very moment.
To me, this is what counts.
“At every moment you have a choice that either leads you closer to your spirit or further away from it.” -Thich Nhat Hanh
What is your idea of the “good life?”