If goals are our road map to a particular “destination”, values can be the compass we use to get there.
If we think about it, values really shape the kind of people we want to be and strongly influence how we think, perceive and behave in the world. For example, curiosity, respect, openness, authenticity and fairness are common values that people often identify as being important to them. If our actions (or behaviour) is consistent with who we want to be (our values), we are generally quite resilient in the face of challenge and difficulty. They can help give us a sense of purpose, stay focused, make difficult decisions and build positive self regard.
Below you will find three common blocks (barriers and misconceptions) that can prevent us from being true to our values.
When values conflict
“I really want to get this assignment done on time (punctuality) but I need to take my grandmother to the doctor (care/responsibility)”. Being pulled between actions that connect with important values can be tricky to navigate. Acknowledge the conflict, ask for advice from someone you trust and be realistic about what we can achieve. Being open about the conflict can also help us see it from another perspective and lead us to come up with a “good enough” alternative.
Not on your radar
When we are really busy “doing”, it can be hard to stop and think about “being”. Values can help to connect our sense of being with our action of doing but only if we start to think about it more deliberately.
It doesn’t feel important
If we don’t have a clear reason or belief that making this connection will be useful, we are unlikely to make any time to think about values. So why can values be important? When we are acting like the kind of people we want to be, we can often face challenges more effectively because our goals have meaning. Knowing and living by your values is a key feature of resilience.
Below are three things you can do to boost success.
Take 15 minutes to think about a situation where things couldn’t have gone better
Ask yourself, “What was it about the situation that I valued?” What does this tell me about what I value more generally? How can you translate this into other actions you take? We need to know what we value if we are to base our decisions on it. A peak moments exercise is a great way of exploring values.
How well does what I am about to do match up with what’s important to me
Ask yourself, “on a scale of 1-10, how well does what I'm about to do match up with what’s important to me?” Matching our values and goals is like putting your foot into a good fitting shoe. It feels good and gives you strength to keep going. This can help us make difficult decisions and improve our prioritisation skills.
Do something that fits closely with your values
At the end of the day, reflect back and find an example of something you did that day that fit closely with your values. Notice how you feel when you act in line with your values. Some meditation exercises take you back through the day as a way of settling to sleep. You could make reflection something you do when brushing your teeth before bed and use it as a tool to develop gratitude and resilience.
Need more info?
- What are values
- The Huffington Post explores the reasons why values matter
- Discover your core values
- Define your values
- Values that work for uni and life success
- Explore using value cards
- Character strengths
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