Are You Living A Life Based on What You Really Value?

Overcoming Blocks By Reasserting Your Values

Determine What You Value

I think one of the most difficult places to be in is one in which nothing seems all that valuable. What do you actually want to do? Why? Why not? These are really tough questions.

  • Make a note of some of the “peak” moments in your life so far. When you were happiest, or most satisfied. What was so good about them? Who were you with? What were you doing? Note down any observations at all about what made that experience so great.
  • What about the last time you were really angry? What incited your anger? The opposite to the above, figuring out what really elevated your heart rate can also be a good place to start. Perhaps it was a certain kind of injustice that occurred that you’re spurred to do something about. Perhaps it’s just knowing what you definitely do not enjoy doing. All of this can help break things down and clarify the things you value.
  • List out the different spheres of your life. Family, relationships, friends, work, money, spirituality, etc. What do you do for each of these spheres? If anything? Which ones matter more to you? Why? If you could do anything differently within each — imagining your ultimate scenario — what would be different about them? The sphere with the most ideas and the most changes you might propose, could be the sphere that stands out as the most important to you. Question this. Why is this sphere so important? How could you make things better in this area of your life? What does ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ look like?

Flesh Out Your Values — Make them Rich!

I have a notebook dedicated to this kind of thing — somewhere where I can add to the key words and ideas that are most valuable in my life. With this you can add other associated words, emotions, activities, images, all of which speak to and define your values better. Consider how these values play to your strengths and the things you already like to do or do well. It’s a good way to figure out more about what your value translates to in everyday life.

Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

Keep Values Present and Visible

I mean this literally. If you aren’t constantly reminding yourself of what’s important and you have a tendency to forget, these things need to be as clear as possible. Imbedding value into your life takes time, and discipline. But make things easier for yourself — we all tend to have a variety of things we value, and they don’t all have to be as huge as ‘change the world’. Or ‘be the best’. They can be smaller, more accessible, more achievable. And the more present and aware we are of what we value, the easier it becomes to act in accordance with them.

Give Yourself an Immediate Task

Once you’ve started to pick through the things that you believe are your values, it’s important to start doing something that feels like it feeds that value. Setting yourself a mixture of tasks is helpful, and these can be quite simple. If I decide I want to improve my eating habits, because good nutrition is a value, I could start by setting myself the task of making a healthy breakfast. Not a very onerous task really, and something I can quite easily do without too many other factors impeding my way. But also something that requires some effort. It requires an active decision from me to make the healthy breakfast, rather than grabbing a handful of cookies and cramming them in my face.

Give Yourself Medium and Long Term Tasks

With a few easy steps out of the way, the next steps get a little more challenging. Small immediate steps are fantastic, but then we can lose momentum if things don’t seem to be accumulating anywhere. Here’s where the medium to long term comes into play. What are the bigger ways you can live your values? Dream a little, but figure out what you consider an achievable future vision for your life. What are the steps to get there? If you’re missing information, here’s your chance to set ‘find out more’ as a goal. If you’re in need of support, here’s your chance to say ‘look for a support group’ or ‘ask a friend for help’. Viewing this as an opportunity to succeed, rather than a test against which you’ll fail, really helps to set the agenda in the right direction.

Get Ready for Change

Just because something new crops up doesn’t mean your values are pointless or flimsy. Take heart from the fact that if you know where you stand right now, you can and will always find new information, experience new things, and understand the world differently with time — and that’s fine! We are amazing at adaptation, as humans. So anticipate that while these values are important and grounding, they will likely shift. That shouldn’t frighten you — you can always redo this process. You don’t need to announce your values as irrefutable truths, carved into stone. Be kind to yourself.

Reassess Periodically

It is worth checking in on your values every so often. What’s working? What’s not working? Have any of the words or ideas shifted, or changed? Keeping this updated in your mind, spending time to sit down and collect your thoughts and feelings again, is important. This is a big part of why I keep a journal. Every so often, I write down a few more thoughts, a few more realisations. I let these unfold as and when.

In conclusion…

Determining where value lies is not always obvious and straightforward. But developing the awareness that leads us there is absolutely something we can practice and improve upon. Doing the practical steps sets up the method to come more naturally with time. In the end, we all want to live a life that feels rich and meaningful. We can make this happen — the ability to live that life requires merely our commitment to it. Do you really want to be happy? Do you really want to find meaning? It takes work, and sometimes the truth is that we are indulging in misery — we are indulging in complaints, in fear and finding the easy way out by declaring all things too hard, or hopeless. It takes courage, it takes self-care, it takes determination. But we can each cultivate these things.

Emerging fiction author, London Writers Award 2020. Working on my debut novel, rep’d by Kate Evans @ PFD. Podcasting on Author Not Present.

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