I bet you have some amazing dreams and you’re currently working toward. And you’re somewhere between dreaming – goal setting – planning – executing – refining. Kudos to you for taking action! I’m curious, have you ever stopped to ask yourself if these dreams align with your values?
Like most things, I learned this important step the hard way. The first 30+ years of my life I pushed forward, toward big bold goals, but the plan I had to get there didn’t align with my values. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even know what I valued. I was clearly living someone else’s plan, doing what I thought I was supposed to do. The moment we took a step back and defined what was most important in our lives was the moment everything changed.
Values are the principles and standards that guide our behavior. They help us determine what’s important in life. While we all share similar values, like wanting to be moral and kind, they can also be very different.
Some people love to go out and have a great time with friends. Every weekend is a new concert or event. Jer and I, on the other hand, prefer to spend our free time surrounded by the serenity of nature. Even our home in the city was selected based on its proximity to nature.
Values are personal and can sometimes be criticized by others. I read an article a couple of years ago in which the author criticized health nuts. He said that the runner might live 10 years longer, but he wasted all of those years running. What the author failed to consider is that the runner may actually enjoy the sport. The other thing he failed to consider is the improvements to the quality of life the runner will enjoy during his last 10 to 40 years. Instead of criticizing what others value, let’s admit that if we all had the same values, life would be pretty darn boring.
Take, for example, our love of nature. If everyone loved nature and opted out of concerts and events to spend the weekend in the Boundary Waters, the allure of that place would be gone. Maybe we should accept people’s values for what they are rather than trying to push our own agenda.
Defining Our Values
By defining what we value, we can move toward our goals more quickly and painlessly. Your values may be different from mine and that’s wonderful. You probably have a good idea of what’s important to you, but let’s take it a step further and narrow down the top 5 principles that guide your life.
I created a worksheet that will help you think about what drives you. There are no right or wrong answers. The important thing is that you’re honest. Please take some time to work through the worksheet. It shouldn’t take more than five minutes. Then keep your five values top of mind as you work to create an awesome life.