To be effective values have to be kept current
It’s no secret that we change through life. A treasured childhood toy can be left gathering dust on a shelf, completely forgotten. A trendy tech gizmo can become obsolete. Past passions can be recognized as character forming stages of our development as we stretch and grow in another direction.
Values, on the other hand, are often considered to be the unchangeable foundation of our character and a reference point for the decisions we make. In truth, values have to be flexible and change along with circumstance, situation and evolving stages in life.
If we don’t review and change our values appropriately we can end up confused, uncomfortable and stressed.
The highest value for a student may be to pass his exams. A parent may place the wellbeing of their children as their highest value. A retiree may place health at the top of their values. Different stages in life, different values.
What do you value most?
What 4 or 5 key values are crucial to your happiness and integrity?
What order of priority will you put your values in?
Here are some suggestions: satisfying work; family (parents, children, spouse); friends; health; sport; home. Intangible values such as love and freedom can be on a separate list that I will cover in another blog.
There are rarely “right” or “wrong” choices with respect to values. Some can make life easier, and others more difficult. Some may compete with one another and you may need to compromise. But ultimately, you will know when you are on track. The cloud of confusion will lift and you will have a sense of clarity and energy every time you have to make a choice.
When you feel torn in a number of directions, stop and ask yourself what your current values are around the situation. Do you need to adjust them? A way to check and change your values is to:
- think of 3 different choices you could make about a confusing situation;
- Imagine you have made those choices one at a time (feel what it’s like to live with each choice);
- How confused, clear or energized do you feel with each one?
- Clarity and energy are keys to action and values being aligned;
- Clarify the value aligned with right action;
- Then, if necessary, change your values list
If clarity doesn’t come quickly, you may find it helpful to spend a few minutes every evening, writing out your options and thoughts – juggling your values; removing some; or adding new ones. The answer will most likely appear in your writing or your thoughts.
Once you’ve selected and arranged your values in order of priority, all you have to do is refer to the list every time you have to make a decision.
Choice, decision and action can begin to flow.
If you haven’t already done so, consider looking into and working with your values. You may reduce your stress levels and have more energy.