- Ever felt uncomfortable with how you’ve treated someone?
- Or guilty when you think of what you’ve said about someone?
- Or angry at the way someone else has treated you?
Answer “yes” to any of the above and chances are your values were being violated in some way. ‘Values’ can be an overused word, so let’s get clear on what this is about: what’s really important to us. Our values are so dear to us that if they are disrespected or ignored in some way it can be a deal-breaker. We can walk away from that employer, or friend, or our partner.
When we behave in ways that are true to our values, we are more likely to be happy, energised and motivated. The opposite can have us feeling grumpy or miserable, down and depressed – or in extreme cases someone that we wouldn’t recognise (as in “I don’t know what came over me”).
Our values are a core part of who we are. Where do they come from? Our parents and upbringing, close friends, religion, education, travel experiences and more. Some of our values can seem hard-wired in: we’ve always had them. Others can develop over time and with experience.
So it can be very useful to get clear on our values. A simple way to get a list of values is to note your answers to this question: “What’s really important to you?”, and if you want to get more specific, add “…in relationships?” or “…about the work you do?” or “…where you live?” Your answers may surprise you. My advice is to write each answer on a Post-It note and, when you’ve got between 6 and 10, start moving the notes around to see if you can get a priority order, or at least cluster your top 5. Alternatively, you can print out the word cloud and highlight your top 5.
So now what?
Keep your values handy so you stay in touch with them and bring them to life in how you behave, every day. Translate your values into action. Here are some ways you can do that:
- Keep a list of your top 5 values on your smartphone.
- Make a playlist of music that resonates with your values.
- Find the books you’ve read that have influenced your values and re-read them.
- Find a visual that embodies your values and keep it near you – it could be on a postcard, or a photo from a holiday, or a work of art.
- Check in each day and reflect on how you’ve brought your values to life today.
You may also like this blog post: 10 tips for building your personal brand.
Dawn is the author of ‘The Feedback Book’