Understanding your values
Before getting into understanding your values, let’s briefly stop and think about what values are, and why they matter to us!
What are values and why do they matter?
Values are those standards, behaviours, principles, morals, even situations that you deem to be really, really important to you. They summarise how you would like to experience the world you live in. When your values are impinged or trodden on, you know it – generally, it hurts like hell.
Here are some examples of what you might value – it’s certainly far from being an exhaustive list, because of course, we are all a little bit different and have different life experiences.
You might value:
- Honesty, integrity, straight-forwardness, caring, trust, fairness or respect.
- Financial or job security, decision authority, independence, flexibility, or being expert.
- Staying fit, friendships, family, social relationships, networking or an easy life!
The point is, values exist in many forms and working out what feels right for you might take some deep thinking and reflection.
You might be tempted when asked about your values, to generate a long list of requirements! It’s certainly easy to think that lots of things are really super important to how you like to live – when in reality there are probably just a handful of really, really core things that matter most!
Your first task is to list out ALL the things you think you value – no matter how small, big or significant you think they might be. Spend some quality time thinking about this before you put pen to paper.
When you’ve got your list, one way of working out what you value is to use a categorisation method. This could be as simple as working out what’s Most Important, Important, Of Some Importance, Less Important and Of Little Importance.
Your categorisation method is down to you, but we quite like this nice and simple one! And remember, when a value is trodden on (at work, at home, socially etc.) it generally feels painful. That’s another good way of understanding what matters most!
How does knowing your values help?
Knowing what you value will help you with many important decisions in your life. For example, your values will give you some indication of the type of work you might like – and the work environment itself. It will help you understand why some people (who have values similar to your own) are easier to get on with. When you’re not getting on with someone, could it be that you value different things? It will help you work on and improve relationships and get them back on track if you feel your values are not being appreciated.
Don’t be alarmed if, at first, it’s difficult to pinpoint what’s most important. Mull things over in your head. Talk to friends and family. When you do work it through, your answers will feel intuitively right.