Updated: Sep 30, 2019
Courtesy of Ana from Cleverism
WHAT ARE VALUES?
“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” – Roy E. Disney
Values are what define the very core of your being. They define who you are. Values are at the heart of your life.
We are all part of the human race and thus quite similar in many ways. However, there are subtle differences between us and these are what make us unique. Even when two or more people look completely alike, there will still be differences resulting from their values.
Values are the things which are most important to you. The things that you consider above all else. They are powerful enough to make you sacrifice any comfort and convenience you may have. This is because, when you go against your values, you cannot escape the feeling of guilt which follows.
Your conscience, which is an integral part of you, keeps track of your values. When you go against your values, your conscience aches and calls to your attention the wrong you have committed. However, if you ignore your conscience often enough, it takes the cue from you and adapts.
It recognizes that your values have changed. This is how for example, you can move from starting small with a bad habit and end up getting very deep in it. The value which once classified the habit as bad, changed and you quickly learned the new habit.
The importance of values
Values are very important in your life. They help shape your life and even determine how much success you will have. Consider the following importances of values and you will understand why you need to identify and stick to your values.
1. Find purpose in life
Your purpose in life is the difference you strongly feel you are supposed to make while living on this earth. This usually refers to what you will do to make a difference in the lives of other people. And for that to happen, you will have made some considerable sacrifices.
Your purpose will drive you to take action even when you do not have any support from friends or family. When you do not have any means, you would see no problem in parting with your property so as to facilitate the fulfillment of your purpose.
In itself, a purpose can be big and daunting; one that not many people would be willing to embrace. Yet if you embrace it and run with it, you will be celebrated. Many of those who will celebrate you have little capacity to fully understand what you went through behind the scenes.
Your values sit right at the heart of your purpose. They are the ones which point you on the direction you should go and the path you should take. This is critical because if you embark on a journey of a purpose you have embraced yet it is not aligned to your values, you will easily get frustrated.
With frustration, you are likely to quit so as to take up a different purpose. As unfortunate a situation as it may be, your purpose is not like a career which can be changed any time. Your purpose is a long-term journey which you embark on and the goal should always be on your mind.
Your values help you determine what your purpose is by making known to you the deep things which move your heart. These are the things which when touched, be it positively or negatively, you are bound to respond.
2. Build your self-esteem
Your values help you build your self-esteem by increasing your awareness of yourself. Self-awareness enables you to understand who you are, what drives you forward and what you need to do to have a better life.
This becomes evident when through self-awareness, you are able to identify the emotions which are influencing your life moment by moment. This is great as it empowers you to operate above and beyond the limits caused by emotions.
Emotions can limit you when for example, they make you irritable. You may not be able to take it when people disagree with your point of view. This will bring the effect of people preferring to stay away from you.
Eventually, you will not be able to develop a team to work with yet you need people for success. More so, self-awareness is a key ingredient for the highly-acclaimed skill of emotional intelligence.
Once you know your values, you become comfortable with yourself. You will not seek to be like others who are their original self. Instead, you will build your own self in the way you know is best for you. As you become more comfortable with yourself, your self-esteem goes up.
3. Build your character
Nothing counts like a solid character. Character is what we all seek in order top be sure that someone will remain true to their words. That they will not disappoint when times become difficult. This is what we seek when employing people or picking business partners.
But just how do you get character? It’s all in the values.
Your character is defined as a combination of the qualities you have. These qualities come from sticking to what you stand for. If you stand for politeness for example, you will be known to be respectful. Everyone will know that despite being in an argument, you can never lash out at people.
If you value truth and always speak the truth no matter what, it will be known that you cannot lie. You will be known to have integrity. It will then be easy for people to trust you.
Identifying these values will certainly help you solidify their place in your life. The more you are aware of them, the more you can stick to them because they act as a light to direct your path. As you uphold them in your daily life, then they start shining and they are what people get to see.
4. Make better decisions
Making good decisions is never an easy thing for a majority of people. And when it comes to businesses, it becomes more difficult. The reasons for this difficulty abound. From the need to ensure stakeholders are happy with the decision to employees being comfortable with any coming changes.
There is also the need to consider the opinions of top managers and any consultants that may be part of the business. Generally, the more the number of people to be consulted, the more time it takes to reach a decision. But you still need other people’s input, so what do you do?
As an individual or business, when you know your values, they will direct your decision-making processes. The process becomes fairly simple. All you have to do is check whether the various options available are in line with your values.
How exactly do your values help?
For example, one of your values may be integrity. You may then be in a situation where you need to explain to a customer why his order has not been delivered on time. Some of the suggested explanations may be about the lack of raw materials, a problem with the delivery contractor you have etc.
Instead of scratching your head wondering which of these sounds most convincing, you will simply check with your values and decide to tell the truth. You will understand that this might make the client turn red in anger but the most important thing for you is that your conscience doesn’t condemn you.
While communicating with the client, you may apologize and inform of the steps you have taken to prevent a similar occurrence. It is possible that your client will see the sense of what you have explained and give you the chance to correct your mistake.
In such a case, remember to point to the client that you are acting in line with your value of walking in integrity. This might earn you a lot of respect and more business as opposed to lying and being found out.
5. Gain respect
Your values bring you respect from both yourself and others because they make you have a stand even when others don’t. Your values ensure that you do not become one of those people who are easily influenced to do things they do not wish to do.
This is important because you will never accomplish your life’s goals if you keep operating under the influence of others.
With respect, you will be able to often have what you need to achieve your goals. Those around you will recognize that you are serious in whatever you are pursuing and will give you the space.
This is contrary to when you are among the majority who are just moving along life and get silenced any time they mention their dreams. Since they haven’t gone out of the crowd to prove their strength to do it, they will simply never achieve those dreams.
6. Define your goals
You need to have goals which you are seeking to achieve in life. It is however possible that you don’t have them. All you may have is a desire of success thinking that it will bring about a good life. That will lead you into great disappointments.
In case you are yet to realize this, success is not measured by the amount of money you have.
Neither is it gauged by the amount of material wealth you possess. Success is all about achieving your goals and your goals come from your values. For example, if your values include compassion and a desire to help the elderly, your goal may be to open and run an orphanage.
The moment you start and successfully run an orphanage, then you will have a sense of satisfaction that could not have come through any other way. You may have used all your money or maybe the money you have is what is paying for all expenses.
Yet your joy will not be affected because the most important thing for you in life has been done.
Your values are therefore essential in helping you define your goals and work towards achieving them.
7. Choose the right career or business idea
Just like in the above point, your values will come in handy when you need to choose the career path to follow. With many options potentially causing confusion, you will be able to make a better choice than most of your friends.
Since all careers come with different demands, you will basically be making compromises in order to fit into a certain career. This is normal and not a cause for worry. The problem comes in when you later realize that you compromised on an important part of your life without immediately knowing it.
An example of how this could happen is choosing to become a surgeon. Surgeons are usually busy and could be called upon to assist at any time of the day or night. Some surgeries may take several hours and there may be two or more to be done in one day.
Although you may rest, it may not be adequate if you desire to have ample time with your spouse and children. If this realization comes late in life, you may become stressed about the possible need to switch careers. Or, live a dissatisfied life while maintaining the chosen career.
If on the other hand you had considered your value for spending time with family, you would have chosen a different career. Maybe one where you will work from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday only.
8. Enjoy life
Enjoying life comes from the satisfaction of achieving your goals. If you don’t achieve your goals, you keep working towards them even when you are old. Alternatively, you may give up on them and start pushing your kids to take the path you were on so you can have the achievement through them.
Others may just give up once old age catches up with them and they live their retirement lives full of regrets. None of these unfortunate circumstances will occur if you used your values to determine what your goals are. You would then have worked towards them and subjected your decisions to your values.
Living life according to your values has the benefit of giving you joy even before you retire from active work. Living by your values guarantees small amounts of joy every single day.
For example, decisions are made every day. Making the wrong decisions end up causing you unnecessary stress. But what if you didn’t make wrong decisions?
What you need to consider here is the standard which you are seeking to live by. When you know your values and confidently choose to stick to them, you will find that the decisions you make secure your sense of peace on the inside.
Whereas stressed people will seek to go on an expensive vacation so as to temporarily forget their stress, you will still be comfortable without the vacation because you rarely get high levels of stress.
If you were to go on vacation, you will have no dread of returning to work because your work is not stressful for you. This way, you enjoy life for a very long time. Possibly for the majority of your life.
The connection between your values, desires and goals
Since we have talked about your values and your goals, it would be good to see what place desires have in your life.
We all have desires and they may push us towards attaining some things. Those things should however not be confused with life goals. The difference may be subtle for others, yet very distinct for some. Still, you can make your desires your goal and seek to attain them.
The difference between a desire and a goal can somehow be likened to the difference between a want and a need.
Desires are generally things which when attained, they do not necessarily add much value to your life. They may give you a certain level of happiness and sense of fulfillment but they are very temporary in their nature.
An example of a desire is living lavishly. This can easily become a goal for someone and is actually the case for many people. Fueled by the lavish lifestyles celebrities and billionaires live as shown on TV, many people desire to have money so they can also live the “good” life.
Although there is no problem with living large