Do you find yourself getting a little reflective at this time of year? I know I do. Christmas, family, the new year ahead, work, life…what is it all about? If you find yourself pondering on the ‘big questions’ over the holidays and starting to re-assess where your values lie then I’d say that is a good thing.
Understanding what makes us tick is a fundamental building block for self-awareness. When we can articulate clearly what our values are, we find it easier to communicate with others about what we are doing and why. It helps us to unlock our potential and with it our passion for work and for life.
We all have our own unique set of values derived from our upbringing, environment and our experience, each as distinctive as our personalities. Whether we are aware of it or not, our values shape who we are and what we do. They inform our ethics and our morals and give us a sense of purpose. When we take time out to think about what is really important to us in life we become more aware of these deep-seated values and beliefs. Then from a clearer understanding of our own motivations flows the power to monitor our thinking and adjust our behaviour.
So try this. When the turkey’s all eaten, the kids have fallen asleep and the relatives have finally gone home, try making a list of your values. If you are not sure, ask yourself questions such as: Who do I most admire in life and why? or What makes me feel proud or ashamed? or What would I like to be known for? Start by identifying between five and ten values, then narrow it down to the top three. Write down a phrase that sums up what you believe in.
Doing this exercise regularly, one a year, or more often helps reminds us of what is really important in life. When we are confident in our values they act as a benchmark against which we can routinely check our behaviours, giving us more confidence in our actions too.