When I asked my friends a question “What are your life values?” they were astonished and could often not find the answer. What about you?
How to Define What is Important in Life
Knowing what is important in your life will help you to make better choices, and they will bring you more happiness. Let’s do an experiment.
Take a diary(by the way, a new calendar with one page per day would be perfect) and write down all the things you did during the last week. Be very precise – add hours or at least the length of time spent at these activities. Continue to record your activities for the next few days.
1. Analyse Your Life Values
Now the time has come to define the values which have an impact on your life. We distinguish two kinds of them: the move-towards and the-move-away values. The first group means “the values I will pursue” and the second – “the values I will avoid”.
The Move-Towards Values
Now, look at the list. What can you see? The map of your values. It shows you what is critical for you. The more time you spend dwelling on a given thing, the more important it is for you. Circle the activities which take up most of your day. Define why you spent so much time on any given thing. Choose five of these activities which were the most time-consuming.
|ACTIVITY||WHY DID I DO IT|
Let’s say that your work and watching TV are the most time-consuming. Why do you do them? In the case of work – because you have to provide for a living, sometimes because you just feel fulfilled at work. Watching TV, on the other hand, may give you relax and pleasure, it could be the way of dissolving stress after work. Find your own examples now.
The Move-Away-From Values
You have just found your move-towards values. Then do the same exercise for the rest of the activities on your list. The next step is to list the things that you dislike doing or procrastinate and define why you avoid them. Doing this will help you to discover the negative values in your life.
|ACTIVITY||WHY DID I AVOID IT|
Here are some examples. Let’s say you work 40 hours a week and even overtime. Your life move-away-from value would be to avoid poverty, humiliation before the family, even if the boss is toxic and you are overloaded with tasks and projects.
2. Define Life Values
Now I will show you how to define your values in a more precise way and how to name them, in case you could not do it earlier.
The Move-Towards Life Values
Now read more about the move-towards values. According to Google “Values are the basis for your behaviour and motivation. Values are hierarchical, abstract and dynamic concepts that mostly describe what we desire or seek to achieve. When I say you hold value, it means that you aspire to something, or you feel that value is worth something to you. Values have a hierarchy, and there are some of them for which you would sacrifice your life.”
If you have done the first exercise from this post, now you can name your move-towards values easily. However, you will need to make an effort to learn their names if you are not sure. Here is another exercise:
What Is Important To You?
Brainstorm, without thinking for too long. List ten things. Just answer the question: “What is important to me that I want more in my life?” That is the first step.
Now you need to define what these values mean to you. Fun or friendship can have a totally different definition for you ane your friend, not to mention your parents or your boss.
For example, love can mean taking care of the other person or it can mean passionate sex. Now it is your turn to define what the most important things in your life mean to you. Take five values that you have listed above and define their meaning.
Now the time has come to give you a crib of move-towards values, in the case you had no idea how to name them:
|home, family, fun, health, beauty, challenge, honesty, flexibility, my spouse/partner, achievement, comfort, creativity, dignity, equality, environment, excellence, integrity, fairness, fitness, forgiveness, freedom, ambition, character, friendship, generosity, cheerfulness, courage, gratitude, growth, happiness, communication, adventure, honour, children, education, admiration, wealth|
The last but not least part of this exercise will be the rank of your values. just number the ones in the table above from 1 to 5, where 1 means “the most important value”. Your top 3 move-towards values determine your life path.
The Move-Away-From Life Values
After having defined the move-towards values, the time has come to find out what repels you. Follow the steps described for the move-towards values:
- Name the values with one word, listing them. Choose three in the case of the move-away-from values.
- Write down a definition to each of them.
- Rank them from the most to the least important.
If you are not sure, choose examples from the box below:
|uncertainty, manipulation, anger, distress, humiliation, guilt, illness, corruption, deception, emptiness, frustration, fear, aggression, hate, loneliness, rage, depression, remorse, anxiety, pain, self-criticism, hostility, self-pity, failure, shyness and debt.|
Define Your Cynosure
Now, look at the top three values in both groups: the move-towards and the move-away-from life ones. The first group of values are so important for you that you sacrifice your life to keep them. The second three life values are so painful that you do everything to avoid them. These six values are critical as they will always have an impact on your decisions – unless you learn how to integrate the values that repulse you.
Here is an example:
- the move-towards life values: love, friendship, honesty
- the move-away life values: humiliation, fear of criticism, fear of rejection.
In a Nutshell
Today you have learnt how to define your life values. It can be done by defining what is important to you or naming the move-towards and the move-away life values. Good luck.