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What Values Guide Your Life?

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I believe Values are the foundation of our lives.  When we know our values we can make decisions about relationships, careers, as well as every day interactions. When we can name the top five things we value we will know what ‘fits’ and what doesn’t ‘fit’ into our lives. The struggle with values is coming up with YOUR authentic values.  There are many other types of values that show up for us.

Blocking our Authentic Values:

Old Values:  What you valued in your 20s might not fit today.  I know I valued Status, Appearance and Recognition a lot more in my 20s.  Those values, might be around today but no where near my top 5 values. So it is important to check in from time to time and make sure that your values are still current

Other People’s Values:  The power of the SHOULD is so amazing.  As we grow up we learn values from clergy, friends, family, teachers, and coaches so sometimes it is hard to let those go. For example, your father values loyalty, so he worked at the same employer for 30+ years and encouraged you to do the same. However, maybe you value learning and you have learned all you can from your current employer, even though you have only been there for five years, and want to find another an employer where you can continue to learn and grow.

Then there are the types of value that make living from our authentic values challenging.

Challenging to our Authentic Values

Aspirational Values:  These are the values you WANT to have, you aspire towards them.  It is ok to have these values in your top 5 list.  For example I have integrity on my list of top 5 values.  It is something I strive for every day to be authentic and live a life of integrity AND there are times I fail at this value.  By saying that is my value I need to make sure I am conscious of when I am not aspiring towards that value–Brené Brown calls this Minding The Gap between our aspirations and and our practice.

Conflicting Values:   Conflicting values mean you value two or three completely opposite things. When you have conflicting values it is even more important to look at your life as a whole. If you value family and independence it is important to make time for both.  Make sure you have activities that feed both parts of you the independent and family oriented person.  If you have conflicting values you just need to be a little more creative in finding ways to support both values.

Want more information about values?  Check out my Live Happier 101 Class: Naming Your Values.

I would love to hear from you in the comments: How do your value play out in your life?  Do you have any old values/other people’s values that you keep holding on to?

2 Responses to What Values Guide Your Life?

  1. Recently I was trying to work through a decision, and having a tough time hammering down what I wanted. My carefully laid-out list of pros and cons wasn’t getting me any closer to a decision. So just for the heck of it I made a list of my values. Armed with a list of what’s important to me, I asked: “Does Option A support or detract from these values? Does Option B support or detract from these values?”

    It was starting to look like Option A supported my values more. So then I asked “What would the values look like for someone, if Option B were the best choice?” When I listed those out, I really started to see how why Option B really wasn’t for me DESPITE the fact that all my shame triggers and all my other people’s “shoulds” were rallying for Option B!

    Looking at my values for me is almost a way of looking at myself more objectively. It’s a way to figure out “What would Melanie do?”

  2. Wow! That is such a brilliant way to make a decision. I love that you reverse-engineered the 2nd option to see if you were the person that it described – AND that helped you get past “shoulds”! I am TOTALLY stealing this method (I too have one of those big decisions on the horizon).
    🙂