In the 21st century society there is little reinforcement of values within our cultures. Personal values are important to us; they are our moral compass, our reference point to know how we are doing in the world; without which we become discontent and often judgemental, deprecating of others and ourselves.
What are your values? What matters to you?
Every person has a unique system of values which inform their beliefs about themselves and the world. Clear identification of your values help guide your reactions and motivate your behaviour even when facing personal difficulties. It is about making a choice to live in accordance with one’s defined values. Clarifying our own values is one of the most important exercises in our path towards personal fulfilment.
What do you really want to achieve? Not just at work, but in your life as a whole?
Core values exercises are very personal. These are the moments when you explore what is important to you – not to other people, society, or the world at large! They are important to build confidence and self esteem. Often when we feel guilty it is because we are acting “against” a core value we hold, though we haven’t consciously recognised we hold that value.
Often we have never really stopped to think what our value system is. Take time to identify your core values and consciously assess what really matters to you.
How to identify your core values
Our values should be choices rather than imperatives that “it MUST be so”. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) recognises the importance of healthy thinking – healthy thoughts are flexible, consistent with reality, logical and helpful. When we think in unhealthy ways we think rigidly, illogically, inconsistently with reality and unhelpfully. So values are choices, not dogma.
There are many ways of identifying your values; here are some of those ways:
1) Devising a life balance wheel is one way of exploring your value system.
The circle below may represent some of the significant areas that are significant to your life. It is not an exhaustive list and you may wish to add something that is not on the list. (Source Joseph, 2009)
Choose at least five areas that are at the core of your life purpose. Start by reflecting and writing a description of the person you would like be in each area. Begin on the most important area and write
down a description for all your chosen values.
2) Take some time to reflect on your core values and list them on a sheet of paper.
Initially you may find it easier if you take a brainstorming approach and generate quite a long list.
Once you have made a list of your core values, then:
- Go over the list being much more selective and narrow it down to your top five or six.
- Take each value and consider what it means to you.
- Choose one to act on and begin acting in accordance with that value. Each month add the next value to act in accordance with.
Values may change with time as the world moves on, so regular re-evaluation is helpful.
3) Using Visualisation methods:
Imagine yourself meeting an inspirational figure and discussing values with him or her.
Imagine you are all most at the end of your life surrounded by people you care about and reflecting to them on your life.
Imagine you had an opportunity to give your message to the world and you had a short amount of time to present this to the world – what would you say?
Here are some core values you might like to consider:
Prudence* Temperance* Fortitude* Justice * Diligence* Love* Acceptance* Achievement* Altruism* Ambition*Appreciation* Authenticity* Freedom* Friendship* Fun*Respect* Harmony* Responsibility* Health* Balance* Choice* Beauty* … and there are many more…
We hope that you do give working out your core values a go, and see what difference it makes to your life. If you have any questions about any of the advice here, do ask it below.
* Joseph, A (2009). Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Your route out of Perfectionism, Self-Sabotage and Other Everyday Habits. Capstone Publishing, Chichester.