Now that you know what values are, how they are different from goals, and have identified the areas of your life where you are not happy with the state of your life, it is now time to dive into what your values are in each area of your life. It is often the easiest to start with the area of your life that you feel is the least aligned with the person who you want to be and the life that you want to have. Although these mis-alignments can be uncomfortable and frustrating, they can often provide valuable insights into what doesn’t work for you, which at times can be just as important to know as what does work for you.
I will offer two different ways to explore what your values are:
First . . .
Below are several sources that offer lists of common values in each of the four domains. Start wherever it seems easiest to you, whether that is the domain that currently most aligns or the one that doesn’t. In each one, put a tick or make a note beside 3-5 words that stand out to you. Some of these might overlap between categories and others may be specific to a certain area of your life.
Take note of these and ask yourself:
- What would I be doing differently if I were to be acting in ways that align with these words?
- How would I feel differently about myself and my life if my actions portrayed these values?
- How does my body respond to me visualizing my life guided by these values?
This can feel kind of like a ‘trying on’ processWrite these values on a sticky note and put them in several places where you will see them often. As you go through your day in the coming week, bring them to mind and consider how they apply to your moment to moment experience of your life. This can feel kind of like a ‘trying on’ process, as you might initially think that a certain value is really important, but then as you start to live by it, you then discover that embodying that value doesn’t align as much as you had thought when you merely saw it on paper.
Second . . .
Russ Harris, in his great book, The Happiness Trap, outlines three scenarios that you can imagine that can also lead you to identifying what matters to you most in life.
1. Imagine that you are 80 years old and looking back on your life today. Finish these sentences:
- I spent too much time worrying about . . .
- I did not spend enough time doing . . .
- If I could go back in time, I would do differently . . .
2. Imagine watching your own funeral.
- What would you like others to say about you?
- What kind of person you were . . .
- Your greatest strengths and qualities . . .
- The way you treated them . . .
3. Looking back on your current challenge from one or five years in the future.
- What did you stand for while facing this challenge?
- How did you treat yourself and others while you worked through this challenge?
- To live your best life, start by knowing your values.
Gather together everything that you have learned through these three blog posts: about what values are, where your intuition and gut come in, the areas of your life that are and are not aligned, and those values that stand out as being especially important to you. Life always pulls us in so many different directions and it can be challenging to know what to choose when and what to turn down.
What you have done in these exercises offers you a valuable navigation tool to make difficult decisions and be confident that you are moving in the direction of your best congruent life.
Kelsey Hoff is a Canadian Certified Counsellor who specialises in supporting folks who are working through the longterm affects of religious trauma and spiritual abuse, navigating religious deconstruction, and/or in the process of leaving high control settings. To find out more about her services and to book a free 20-minute consultation, visit her website here.
Posted March 25, 2022Blog