Our values make out who we are, what we believe in, and how we behave. Most of us might not have defined our inner values, and thus we are, believe, and behave inconsistently, and make choices that we’re unhappy with deep down.
In contrast, those who know and faithfully follow their values, have a clearer sense of direction within and seem more inspiring and trustworthy to others. They don’t struggle as much with making decisions and they’re more likely to feel good about any outcome because they know they stuck to their core values. Finding your values is definitely worth the time.
Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave ’em all over everything you do.”– Elvis Presley
Identifying your top 3 values is quite a task, though. Probably, you could list a whole number of positive attributes which you would like to live by, but it is a lot more powerful to only have 3 than 30. That will give you a stronger sense of identity. Here is a TEDx Talk by Jan Stassen about why values are so important:
Ready to find your own? Let’s look at how you define your essential values and how to use them to guide your actions.
How to Identify Your Top 3 Values
When finding your values, schedule enough time for the process as you will probably need some time to reflect and to feel your answers through.
- Make a long list of all the values that inspire and resonate with you. You can write down as many as you want. If you need inspiration, you can do like Jan Strassen and think back to past experiences and personal stories:
- Think of peak experiences where you were at your best. Which values were you following then? Which actions are you particularly proud of from those experiences?
- Think of bad experiences where you felt horribly. Which values didn’t you follow back then that were important to you?
- Circle your favorites (if you have a very long list) to narrow down the selection slightly. Some probably feel more important than others.
- Divide that list of values into three categories. Which values seem to go together? You don’t yet need to know why you put them together, just do what feels intuitively right to you.
- Give each category a title. What’s the red thread running through the three lists respectively? Which value could you write as a title for those three categories?
- Congratulate yourself! You have your three main values! You can now elaborate on them or describe them further, so you get a clear understanding of them.
Now having your list of core values, do a quick check-in: From 1-10 how well you’re currently following each of them? What can you do to improve those numbers?
How to Use Your Values
It’s one thing to know your values, and something else to follow them in how you speak and behave. So how do you keep yourself on track?
One thing you might do is finding a way to remind yourself of your values. Creating a mood board can be a cool way to deeply connect with them. For that, you might consider which colors, which quotes, which pictures describe those three qualities you want to live by? Create something cool using magazines and glue or using services such as canva.com. Hang it up somewhere where you regularly see it.
Another way to keep yourself on track is to ask yourself every night:
Was today a good snapshot of myself?
This question helps you to reflect upon your behavior in relation to your values. Were you the best version of yourself or did you step out of line? Be honest with, but not too hard on yourself.
And of course, whenever you need to make a decision, think back on your values for a second. It’s through our actions that our values become part of our identity, so stick to them when you’re at crossroads. That will raise your reliability and your trust in yourself, as well as make it easier to make decisions.
Plus, no matter what the consequences of your decisions will be, you can at least tell yourself that you stayed true to who you are. That will make both your successes and your failures feel a lot better.
Pirates are able to #doepicshit because they know their values and know that they want to make the world a better place.
So, pirate, what are your values?