How long has it been since you reflected on your core values? Whether we're aware of it or not, our values are an important part of our decision making process. Your values help you clarify what's important to you, serving as a guide for determining your priorities. Your values focus your efforts, drawing you toward what will help you feel fulfilled. When you know your values, you can design and orient your life around them. Your options and choices become clearer; you make better decisions, you feel aligned and connected. When you take the next step and align your goals to your values, you set more meaningful goals and then feel an internal drive to accomplish them.
After clarifying what's most important to us, it's easier to determine if we're on track or off track in the various areas of our life. When goals are not in alignment with your values, you may procrastinate or avoid working on the goal altogether. And when actions are not congruent with your values, you may feel unfocused, frustrated, unproductive, or depleted.
Your core values are specific to you. You determine what is important, what the value means to you, and how to incorporate the value into your decisions. For example, one of my core values is self-expression. The specific ways I express this value may vary over time or as my circumstances change. Sometimes I make art, sometimes I write, sometimes I speak. But what doesn't change is that I need to be expressing myself in *some way* in order to feel whole and if I'm not, I feel out of alignment.
Another of my core values is beauty. I've been really focused on creating beauty around me in my home so I can experience it all the time. And If I want to immerse fully in the beauty of nature, I have chosen to live in an area where I can do that in just a few minute's drive. And in my work, part of my mission is to help my clients see the beauty and goodness within themselves.
I refer to my values when I create my priorities, set goals, and make decisions. One way I put my values into daily practice is when I receive requests of my time. Instead of immediately saying yes or no as I have in the past, I review my values, vision, mission, and priorities to determine if the request will support or hinder my ability to honor those. My values support me in saying YES when I want to say yes, and NO when I need to say no.
It's a good practice to review our values occasionally, to see if they change over time or as our life circumstances change. I generally review my values about once a year, and when I've experienced significant life changes. As life circumstances shift, what we view as important may also shift.
If you're unsure of your values, I invite you to download my free guide: Clarifying Your Core Values. This document will guide you through the process that I've used to discover my core values. Beyond just discovering what your core values are, this guide will invite you to reflect on why these values are important to you and how you can start integrating them more purposefully in all areas of your life.