Find your values
What we will do here to find out what it is most important to you in life.
In knowing this, it will be much easier for you to shape your life in a way that will be more meaningful and fulfilling for you. More in tune with the real you.
We will be making a list of everything that is important to you in life. I’ll be looking at how we can go about this in a moment but meanwhile, I am giving a list of examples to give you an idea of the type of thing that might be on your list. It’s not to say that you have to use these and it’s most certainly not exhaustive but to give you a guide as to what I mean by things that are important to you.
Love Kindness Family
Work Admiration Respect
Wealth Beauty Creativity
Education Travel Freedom
First you will be making a list on page one marked 'Values' of everything that is important to you.
And you can do this for any area of your life; work, personal, financial, whatever you choose.
For this exercise, choose the area of your life that is the least satisfying for you at the moment.
How do you decide on what these things are?
You may like to ask yourself the question: ‘What is important to me in the context of ……..’ and then you will insert the area of life that you are working on….. relationships, work, self-worth, friendships and so on.
The easiest way is to let your mind do its own thing without trying to steer it. Often our conscious minds will try to over-ride our gut feeling about something because we feel that it’s not right for some reason.
As an example, maybe you can't imagine that 'family' can be important to you because you don't feel that you were treated well by your own family. They made you unhappy. How can they be a priority for you?
However, if family springs to mind as something that's important to you, write it down.
Firstly family doesn’t have to be the family that you grew up with, and secondly ‘family’ doesn’t have to be relations necessarily. A group of good supportive friends may feel more like a family to you.
Maybe your instinct is to write down ‘wealth’. You resist it because you think it sounds a bit selfish or shallow, so you write down ‘world peace’ instead.
In this instance, it’s important to write down wealth. The reason that wealth is important to you can be for loads of different reasons. We will be looking further into it later.
Note down your first thoughts on your list without any analysis.
Try and write down as many things as you can think of. Don’t rush it. Take your time. When you feel you’ve got to the end of your list, sit back, close your eyes and think some more.
Keep adding to it. We are looking for at least 28.
Try not to be in a hurry to get it done otherwise you may miss some important thoughts.
Now that you have the full list there, have a look and see if there are any that can be combined.
Are there any that really mean the same thing?
The example I’m going to give here won’t work across the board as it depends on what the words you’ve chosen mean to you. For example for one person ‘freedom’ will mean being able to travel the world whereas for someone else, ‘freedom’ might mean to be able to make their own decisions.
But let’s say you’ve put ‘friends’ and ‘connection’. If these two things mean the same to you then you can adjust one to show as ‘friends/connection’ and delete the other so this shows as one thing.
Hope that makes sense.
OK so now turn to the spreadsheet marked ‘Priority’.
Copy your list from the 'Values' sheet onto the 'Priority' sheet.
We now want to work through the list and categorise them in order of importance.
The best way of doing this is to not give it too much conscious thought. Go with your gut feeling or first reaction as to which is most important to you.
Do this from the heart. No-one else will be reading this. If the thing that you want to put as number one feels uncomfortable for any reason, don’t be afraid to mark it as number one anyway. The reason that you choose it will be deeper than whatever you see on the surface. We will look into later. It’s important to be honest with yourself.
So, when you look down the list, note number one to the right of the thing that is THE most important to you.
Work down the list until you have them all numbered.
You now have a list of what is most important to you in life.
These are things that we want to be sure of having a lot of in our lives on a day to day basis in order to feel fulfilled and happy.
Don’t worry about how you will achieve this at the moment, just go with the flow.
The values that we have will determine how we lead our lives.
You will be running your life in order to fulfil your values. They really are important.
But one big question here is whether you are working towards each value or whether it is there in order for you to avoid something else.
What does this mean?
If your motivation is towards something, then you are keen to get there. You are enthusiastic about it and if you get knocked off course you would continue to strive towards it.
If your motivation is away-from something, once you get away, the motivation stops, as does your action.
So let’s say that Money is at the top of your list of values. Think about why you want money. What is it about having money that you like? Why is this a propriety for you in life?
This may take some deep thinking. Be honest with yourself. Why do you want more money?
Maybe your family were hard-up when you were young. You saw the struggle that your parents had on a daily basis and you have a fear of ending up back in that situation.
If this is what motivates you to earn money then you may find that your ability to hold into money when you get it is inconsistent.
This will be because your motivation for money is an away-from motivation and not a towards motivation. You are working away-from not having any money rather than towards having lots of it.
Because of this, once you get money, you’re not poor anymore – problem solved – money is no longer a worry or a priority and so your motivation to earn more goes.
When you’ve reached this stage, you spend the money you’ve got and before you know it, you’re worrying about being poor again. The motivation returns, you earn money and so the cycle continues.
Do you see how this makes your motivation around money an away-from not having any rather than a towards having lots motivation?
We’ll come onto what we will do with this information later but for now, we want to ascertain your level of motivation around each of your values.
Take the five values that you have rated as priorities 1 - 5 on your list and copy them onto the sheet marked 'Towards / Away-from'.
Look at the top value on your list.
Sit back, close your eyes and think about it. Feel what it does to you when you think about it.
It may suggest that it’s an away-from motivation if you find yourself using words like should, must , need to, can’t, don’t.
For example, let’s say you have ‘recognition’ as a top value. Think about why you want recognition. What about this is important to you. Maybe you feel that you deserve to be recognised for your contribution. Does that indicate that you aren’t currently recognised for it? How does that lack of recognition make you feel? It may make you feel that they don’t appreciate you. Don’t like you. What happens if they don’t appreciate you and don’t like you? Will you be on your own? Will you be lonely?
In this case, the motivation for recognition is away-from. It’s away from being alone.
An example of recognition having towards motivation may be that recognition gives you the verification that what you are doing is good and correct and it therefore spurs you onto greater things. In this case, the more recognition you get the more you achieve. In this case the motivation is toward recognition.
It won’t necessarily be that a particular value is totally towards or totally or away-from.
For example, if Love is one of your values, you may consider that 80% is because you want to be in a dream relationship and 20% is because you don’t want to be on your own when you’re older. This would therefore be 80% towards and 20% away-from.
So work your way down the list and note down what you feel is the percentage towards the value and the percentage away-from.
Go with your gut feeling if you’re not sure.
Some further examples if you're not clear how to grade each value:
Love 80% towards a perfect relationship 20% away-from being alone in old age
Recognition 10% towards motivation to do well 90% away-from being lonely
Wealth 100% towards. I’m happy with what I have but could have lots of fun with more!
And don’t feel disappointed or annoyed if you are revealing things about yourself that you feel aren’t favourable.
It’s important to be honest in order to get the information that we need for the next step.
This thought journey will be unique to all of us and it can be tricky as the things that we fear are often things that we hide from ourselves. If you find that you disagree strongly with what you are thinking (strange concept I know but you may recognise this), then you may have hit on a sore point.
For example ‘What a load of old rubbish this is’ could mean a) that you know you are about to see something in yourself or your life that you aren’t happy dealing with or b) that you think it’s a load of old rubbish.
Either way, do persevere. Your conscious mind won’t let you see anything that you aren’t ready for. Just the thought of looking deeper may let something spring to mind for you.
So, work down the list and note the percentage of towards versus away-from motivation for each value.
Now you have your list, you can begin to understand a bit more about yourself.
What are we going to do with this information?
What you have here is a blue print as to what you need to do in order to be happy.
The towards motivation values are the ones that you want more of in your life.
The away-from motivation values are areas of your life that you may need to take a look at.
Take a look firstly at the top 'towards' motivation value.
How are you fulfilling this need?
If the value isn’t currently being fulfilled, what would have to happen to make you feel that it was?
Think about this highest value and what would have to be in place for this to feel good for you.
What would have to be happening for you to feel happy and fulfilled in this particular area of your life?
When you have established what that is, if it isn’t currently in your life, how can you go about getting it?
What can you do more of to ensure that it is present in your life on a daily basis?
Go through each towards motivation value and use this same process.
Try to think how you can get some of this in your life every day.
Now for the away-from motivation values.
Take a look at the top value with the away-from motivation.
Let’s take the example we gave earlier about recognition actually meaning loneliness. So, is this base-fear loneliness or can you go deeper? Keep going as deep as you can. When it becomes difficult to think deeper, you may be close.
Perhaps we can look at what loneliness might mean. What might this mean to you? (And you will be inserting your own word for loneliness here, ie what might ‘freedom’ mean to you if this the value you are looking at).
Digging deeper into loneliness we may feel that in fact we aren’t lonely. We are surrounded by lovely people who care about us. We may find that in fact what we are lacking is support. There is a lot of mutual love and respect with the people around you. The problem you are finding is that you still feel alone because you don’t feel able to ask them for help for whatever reason.
Having discovered this, what you need to work on is bringing more support into your life.
How can you do this? How will you know when you have got this covered?
You’ve now got a list of things that you can bring into your life to improve your enjoyment of it and make yourself happier.
Once you’ve nailed this then repeat the process with every other area of your life.
You can repeat the process again at any time in the future that you feel things are a bit out of kilter for whatever reason.
Remember that just having the information is meaningless if you aren’t going to do anything with it.
Well done and enjoy your discoveries!
There is one more thing that have to look at in order to create the life of your dreams!