January 26, 2011

Getting More of What’s Important to You

What does getting what you want in life or your business have to do with values? Let’s look at how the two are connected.

You can’t get what you want in life or business until you know what it is you want.  In my blog post Why Are You Doing This Business? 12 Questions to Uncovering Your Dreams, Vision and Mission, question 12 asked what you value in life.

You’ll have a hard time knowing what you want, if you are not clear about what your values are.  You see, if I were to ask you what you really want, what I’m actually asking is, what do you value? Discovering your values will improve the results you get in those areas that are truly most important to you.

I cannot tell you how much this exercise helped me over the years. I’m going to suggest that you find out what you value in the categories such as: life, relationships, family, home, work or career, leisure, recreation, fitness, physical health, financial/money management, friendships, spiritual, mental/educational/personal & professional mastery, community service or whatever is important to you. When you elicit values in these areas, it will become clear to you what you are looking for in each category.

What are values?

Values are invisible guides for daily living that influence your thoughts, feelings, words and deeds.  They shape your personality and give direction to what would otherwise be an aimless, purposeless life.  Your values are reflected in your goals, hopes, dreams, attitudes, interests, opinions, convictions, and behavior as well as in your problems and worries.

Values represent who you really are.  They are the activities and behaviors that you are naturally drawn to. They are not morals or principles. Clarifying values helps you create a life map.  Every major decision you make is influenced by your values when you know what they are.

Values are choices you make from the available alternatives.  Values cause you to do something. Values are priorities that tell you how to spend your time. Time is a limited resource, so knowing what you value, can act as a compass to guide you to living the life you desire.  Because you can’t do everything at once, you have to prioritize what is most precious to you.

The main benefit of knowing your values is that you will gain tremendous clarity and focus. Most of us are easily distracted, so knowing our values, keeps us on track. If you know that what is truly most important to you in life, then it will be easier for you to say no to those things that take you away from what you value.

People who live according to their values live a fulfilling life.  This results in experiencing more joy, spending time with the people you love and getting the most out of your own natural gifts and talents.

Eliciting Your Values

What do you value in life?  Have you spent much time thinking about it?   If not, I strongly suggest that you take time to do so.  Sit down and make a list of all your values using the categories I suggested earlier.  The question to ask yourself is this: What is truly important to me in life (or whichever category you are using)? Create your own personal values hierarchy. Try to reduce your responses to a single word or two that encapsulates each answer.

Please contact me and I will send you an extensive list of values to make this task easier for you. Don’t worry about the order of your list yet or how long it is. Just get everything down in writing. There’s no hard rule for how long your list should be, but at least 10 values is a good start.

So, using the category ‘life values’, you might end up with a list that looks something like this:

  • Health
  • Love
  • Nature
  • Spirituality
  • Learning
  • Making a difference
  • Mindfulness
  • Transcendence
  • Playfulness
  • Fitness
  • Success
  • Wealth

The next step is to prioritize your list. This step is usually the most time consuming and requires some intense thinking. The process I use is from the Passion Test by Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood. Using the example above, I would ask, if you could have health or love but not both, which would you choose? Remember in making your choice, you are not really losing anything. It is only to determine which value is more deeply important to you. In real life you can have both. You are just making a hierarchy of values here.

Then move down the list to the next two values and ask the same question. Continue all the way down your list asking the same question. Once you have the values from each pair, and you compare those, you continue the process until you’ve sorted the whole list in priority order.

By prioritizing your values, you’ll be able to rely on them when you need to make important decisions in the future. Discovering your values will change your world. They certainly did for me.

Here’s to your success.

I appreciate getting feedback on my post. I enjoy hearing from you and if you would like to find out more about the next Thinking Into Results program, I would love to discuss how we could transform your dreams…into reality, your goals…into achievements and your thinking…into results.

About the author 


I’m a Canadian, gluten-free, tai chi loving, great-grandmother. I live in Ontario and love helping people get healthy again.   I use all the experience I have gained in the almost 5 decades to help you live a life full of vitality with great clarity and focus.

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