Want to know the key to a happy life…?Oct 23, 2023
Elvis Presley once said: 'Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same but you leave ‘em all over everything you do.’ He was spot on.
Values 100% underpin every single decision you make- from the brand of baked beans you buy, to your life partner.
Yet if you were asked what your top five values are, would you know straight away? The potentially worrying thing is, if you’re not aware of your values, you are unwittingly being driven by your subconscious mind and sleepwalking through life without realising why you are making decisions that have important medium - and long-term effects.
All your plans and decisions honour your values whether it feels like it or not. Yet so few people think about what their values actually are and indeed, many are adopted from others who hadn’t thought about them in the first place either.
Are you living your life according to a set of values you didn't consciously choose? That's when negative stress is created- when what you are doing doesn't quite seem aligned with what is truly important to you in life.
Work, rest and play
Your values determine the way you live and work- they determine your thoughts which produce your emotions – how you feel - which then drive your behaviour. Repeated behaviour turns into habits and the product of your habits are the circumstances in which you are now living and the results you have accumulated, including how you choose to think, over time, about situations that you didn’t choose to happen or have any control over.
What are the benefits of knowing your values? Well, decision making is easier, and you’ll know what you will or will not negotiate over both professionally and personally. Knowing your values also enables you to set goals. For instance, if one of your values is 'curiosity', you can set goals to explore more of life, the universe and everything. Maybe it's 'challenge'- be it in terms of adventure, or personal growth.
Are your values intrinsically or extrinsically focused? Maybe you are driven to achieve wealth or material items, if so, ensure you're happy with who you are and what you have because you're then comfortable with the extrinsic factors in your life. Your values may be focused on fulfilment, contentment, happiness, or joy.
Your version of success will centre around what is important to you. And of course, success means something different for each of us, but if your decisions are aligned with your values, that for me is a recipe for happiness.
The thing is, how many people at 18 say to themselves: "I can't wait to grow old and lead a really average life"? I’d hazard a guess that not many consciously think this! Yet that's what very often happens- no sense of direction, no clearly defined goals and so life happens by default. You might not consciously have thought that, but that's where life will take you unless you are in control. You get to the end and wonder what happened. Well, not much, because you didn't make any consciously made choices, informed by consciously chosen values.
You are the captain of your ship so can steer your life in the direction you want it to go. It starts with working out what's most important to you which every single time comes down to your values.
When you figure out what they are, including what your own definition is, you've a significantly better chance of working out what your goals will centre around, and of achieving them.
Human behaviour is driven by self-interest and we will always act in accordance with our own values, we can never not act according to them, and thus we are always behaving in a way that is consistent with our emotional needs.
Only around 2–5% of the population have consciously chosen values- those from whom emanates a sense of strength and congruence, and they are usually respected by others.
Your values are individual to you and inform all the decisions you make.
How do you spend your time?
If you're not sure what's important to you, take a look through your diary/schedule for the past six months- that'll be a good indicator. If reflecting on how you have spent your time results in you wanting to make some different choices, you may want to think about updating your values.
Know what your values are and be more consciously aware of why you do what you do; this will ensure you are living by your core values- that your choices and behaviour mirror what is important in your life.
I don’t mind sharing what my core values are because they define who I am: they are Joy, Family, Authenticity, Personal Growth and Fairness. And I know what each of those words mean to me and how they underpin the decisions I make in my life. If they are your values, they might mean something different to you.
That’s why this blog is slightly shorter than usual – I've been away a lot the past three weeks; it’s been exciting to work with a cross-section of clients facilitating sessions on how you can ensure your mindset works for you, to create the results you want in life– it has ticked the boxes of Joy and Personal Growth. However, my value of Family is not being met and feels out of kilter and so, I am choosing to write a shorter blog than usual so that I can spend time with my loved ones. I’ve missed them.
If you don’t know why you are who you are, why you do what you do, and why you have what you have, I suggest you carve out some time to work out what your values are. When you know, you’ll feel a whole lot happier with your life.
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