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Who and what do you value most? Why knowing this will make decision-making easier.

Sep 06, 2021

Who are you and what do you stand for?

One of my top five values is authenticity. I like to think I am true to myself, my values, my personality and to my spirit i.e. the essence of who I am, and this is evidenced through my thoughts, words and actions. If you are authentic, you will not be swayed by the influence of others– because you stay true to what you believe in. I stand by that. Or at the very least, I consciously strive to. I don’t try to be anyone else because as Oscar Wilde said:

"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken."

And as the fabulous and totally authentic Dolly Parton put it:

“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”

Surely this can’t be demonstrated more wonderfully than in the interview given to Barbara Walters in 1977…

Maybe authenticity isn’t one of your values, but could you name what your top five values are?

The core of who you are
Very few people if you asked them, would know what their five most important values are; very often, they are living by values they adopted from somebody else who probably didn’t think about them either. If that’s the case, how can you be making important decisions about the direction you want your life to take if you’ve never given any conscious thought to what your values are?

Only 2-5% of the population make the time to think about their core values. If you’re reading this and cannot think straight off the bat what your core values are, make the time to do so and understand what eliciting your core values can mean for you. Be one of those elite effective thinkers and know what you want out of life. Once you know your core values, it makes decision-making so much easier.

We are all always living by our core values because whatever we choose to do, will sit most comfortably with us. So, visiting the mother-in-law who we don’t particularly get on with, is something we do because perhaps it’s more favourable than the cold shoulder and portion of nag pie we might get from our partner if we don’t go or the disappointment they like to show, or perhaps simply because the value we place in our relationship with our partner, far outweighs the awkwardness of a lunch with dear M.I.L. (dealing with the ‘guilt’ is a whole other topic so watch this space on that one…!). Or, ferrying the kids to and from their various clubs and activities might be something you moan and groan about, but you must want to do it because, well, otherwise quite simply, you wouldn’t be doing it. Perhaps one of your values is ensuring they have access to a range of sports and hobbies to enrich their physical, mental and emotional development. Standing on the side of pitch in the freezing cold or sat in the car week after week waiting in the car park for an hour, is a small price to pay for enhancing their learning.

Honesty is the best policy
So, you see, we are all always living as the person we want to be because we are always acting in accordance with our core values. What we might however have are aspirational values– those values which we think we live to or want to live by. Maybe we tell others one of our values is the environment. We demonstrate this by earnestly recycling and taking our jute bags to the supermarket, or turning the tap off when we clean our teeth. Yet when recently buying a car, did we consider electric, or hybrid? Do we shop at charity shops to recycle clothes? Look into solar panels for our house? Maybe we say community is a strong value for us but what does that mean? Checking on our neighbour once in a while, helping at the village fete? Or could we do more? Perhaps start a group raising money for a local charity? Run errands for those in need in your local area?

Be very conscious of what you say your values are and how you actually live your life. I don’t personally believe honesty should ever be given as a value. Whether it’s little porkies we excuse as ‘white lies’ – seemingly to benefit others, or absolute whoppers to absolve ourselves from any responsibility, lies will be told by us all at some point. Be honest with yourself and that authenticity will shine through.

I remember a child in one of my daughters’ classes. He joined the school mid-term because he’d been badly bullied and had had a terrible time. I so admired him because when he started his new school, he didn’t try to fit in, he stayed true to who he was and if kids liked him, great, if they didn’t, that was OK too. He loved dinosaurs and all things palaeontology, and do you know what, if at first they thought he was a bit of a geek, by the end of term, they were fascinated with his extensive knowledge on the subject. Before he knew it, there were a group of kids who’d flock to him at playtime to play some kind of dino-themed game. The pride in his Mum’s face at pick-up time brought tears to my eyes. Her son was authentic. He wasn’t trying to be anyone else so that he’d be liked, he was who he was, take it or leave it. As Caroline McHugh said in her thought-provoking TEDx Talk, it’s the art of being you.

If you’re slightly eccentric, quirky, unique, gifted, people seem to have a problem with this. Of course, this is usually born out of fear of the unknown and also jealousy– the doubters and the naysayers just wish they had the chutzpah to live their life with such va-va-voom!

The crux of it
The key to knowing the true you is to give conscious thought to what your core values are and to consciously know you are making decisions and choices according to these. Take time and make the effort to find out who you are and what you stand for; it’s too easy to buy ephemeral popularity by following the herd.

Be true to who you are. Be fabulous you.

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Do you find it challenging to know what it is you want out of life? Do you find it hard to identify your sense of purpose?

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