Do you tick off subsequent goals, yet you still feel that something is wrong and you lack fulfilment in various areas of your life? Perhaps your short-term and long-term goals are not consistent with your value system?
Why do you need to define the values?
What many of us proudly refer to as a “vision of life” covers everything that is most important to us; our key life and professional values. A vision is simply an answer to the question: “What kind of person do I want to be and what do I want to be proud of?”
ASSIGNING PRIORITIES: A precise definition of the value system makes it possible to understand what is really important and what you should focus your energy on at a given point in life. On the other hand, think about the projects and relationships that you should definitely let go. It helps with setting goals that resonate with what you deeply want.
EASIER DECISION-MAKING PROCESS: Identifying the core set of values is an extremely effective tool in making difficult life-related decisions. Treat them as a list of criteria that should be met when you want to get a new job or whether it is worth developing your friendship or romantic relationships.
IMPROVED WELL-BEING: Many studies have shown that focusing on contemplating values is one of the most effective ways to improve well-being, minimise the stress level and to make positive changes in our behaviour. This is because reflecting on values makes it possible see yourself in a broader context, to appreciate your internal and external resources (e.g. relationships with friends, passions, family support). Reminding yourself of your values also activates the brain’s reward system and increases the activity of the central prefrontal cortex, which contributes to better coping with pain or negative information.
How can you identify your values?
Many people are unable to name and organise the most important values. Exercises that provoke a change of perspective and an honest look at yourself can help with that.
STARTING EXERCISE: Write down names of five people, five brands and five animals that you admire or like very much. Beside the names, add at least three reasons why you like or admire this particular person/brand/animal. Look at your answers. What similarities do you notice? Do you see any repeating patterns? What is important to you in various aspects of life?
DIFFICULT QUESTIONS: Such questions make it possible to get rid of excuses that limit you and prevent you from reaching yourself within, or identifying your deepest desires.
If you had the chance to get into a time machine and change only ONE thing in your personal or professional life, what would it be? What would your life be like now?
What would you do if you were not afraid of other people’s opinions and did not have any financial and time limitations?
Imagine you are 90 years old and you are a happy, healthy person. You smile to yourself because you reminisce about your whole life. You ask yourself the following questions: “What have I done to contribute to the world? What mark will I leave and what will I be proud of?”; write down your responses.
VISION OF THE END: One of the most fun ways to work on finding the meaning in life is to imagine your own funeral ceremony three years from now. Such an exercise is proposed by Steven R. Covey in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.
Imagine that during the funeral ceremony four people make a speech: a representative of your family, friends, co-workers and some organisation in which you were socially active.
Each of these people will speak for your entire family, all your friends and colleagues from work and community organisation, about your character, achievements and contribution to their lives.
Think about the people who would make the speeches and prepare the speeches in writing.
What are your reflections? What kind of person would you like to be in their eyes? How would you influence their lives?
How do you respect your values?
Very often we forget that identifying our values is just the beginning of the road to building a fulfilled life. It is important to carefully review all spheres of our life and build an action plan.
CONSISTENCY: List any areas where you follow each of your values, e.g. If honesty is your value, how do you apply it to your relationships with your partner, friends, business partners, customers? How do you fight for honesty? In what situations do you feel honesty is the most important to you?
LACK OF CONSISTENCY: List all the areas in which you do not pursue your values, e.g. if family is your value, do you actually fully care for this value by working late every day? What is the reason why you don’t cherish your values? Perhaps you allow someone else to violate them or make you disobey them?
ACTION PLAN: Think about how you can look after your values in a better way. Set goals that will bring you closer to living in harmony with yourself and take your first steps that will make you start improving the quality of your life and building it in harmony with yourself. A value system-based action plan is one of the most effective tools for achieving self-fulfilment.
Keep in mind that you can set and pursue different goals extremely effectively, but if they do not align with your vision and do not resonate with your most important personal and professional values, you will remain dissatisfied and unfulfilled.