Establish Your Values

When was the last time you documented your values, assessed the impact on your life and took action to ensure alignment?

Your personal values are an integral part of your identity and play a significant role in shaping your character and the way you navigate the world.

I discovered recently that my actions did not align to my values due to some relationships I had.  I felt inauthentic because I had to downplay my true self to avoid conflict.  There was an inner conflict between what I believed was important (my values) and what I was doing, and it was impacting my physical and mental health.  To overcome this, I spent time understanding, documenting, and communicating my values and importance and how my relationships were impacting them.   I set clear boundaries for the other parties and provided the option that if they wanted to be involved in my life, they no longer could impact the ability for me to live by my values.  I followed the 3 steps below to do this.

Step 1: Establish Your Value

What are values? Personal values are deeply held beliefs and principles that guide your behavior and decisions in various aspects of life. These values reflect what you consider to be important, desirable, and meaningful and serve as a moral compass, influencing your choices, actions, and interactions with others. Some common examples of personal values include honesty, integrity, compassion, family, success, environmental stewardship, and personal growth.  Here are the 4 steps I took to document my values.

Self-Reflection

The first step in establishing your values is self-reflection. This process requires honesty and introspection. Take some time to think about the following:

    1. What truly matters to you?
    2. What are the things that you are passionate about?
    3. What are the principles that you hold dear?

Identify Your Values

Once you’ve done some self-reflection, the next step is to create a list of values important to you. These could be things like honesty, integrity, compassion, hard work, or family. Start a list and name as many things as you can think of.  Don’t overthink it.  Just write them down as they come.  After you document you can use this list to review and see if there is anything you might be missing.  I had a list of over 50!

Group Your Values

Next, from the list you created, group all similar values together in a way that makes sense to you, personally.  The end desired amount is 4 groupings.  I started with 6 initially but after reflection and prioritization was able to narrow it down to 4 guiding principles that led to the rest. If you have more than four groupings, that is ok, don’t stress, we will narrow it down during the rest of the journey.

Review and Prioritize

Choose one word within each group that best represents the theme.  Again, do not overthink. There are no right or wrong answers. You are defining the answer that is right for you.   Establishing your values is not a one-time event, but a continuous process of growth and self-discovery. Again, we will continue to narrow it down as we progress.   My headings changed multiple times until I “Built My Compass” and started to apply it.

Step 2:  Assess the Impact and Act

When your values align to your daily actions it leads to living a purposeful, authentic, and fulfilling life. It enhances your relationships, decision-making, and personal growth, ultimately leading to a greater sense of happiness and contentment.  When your values do not align with your actions, it can lead to various consequences and feelings of inner conflict.  It can result in emotional turmoil, strained relationships, and a reduced sense of well-being. Recognizing the inconsistency and taking steps to realign your actions with your values can help mitigate these negative effects and lead to a more authentic and fulfilling life.

  1. Define:  Pick one Theme from Step 1 (4 to 6 Themes at this stage) and define what that means to you.  Example:  Live with Purpose.   I want to live my life aligned to a greater purpose, making a positive impact on the world, and being a role model for my family, friends, coworkers and community.    TIP:  Think about how it applies to these aspects of your life:  daily actions, career choices, community involvement, social connections, mentoring, philanthropy, advocacy and education.
  2. Assess: With this theme in mind, review this linked chart to evaluate the alignment and impact between your stated value and actions. Once done you will have identified alignment areas you need to improve, actions you can take to resolve and where there are external dependencies out of your control that you will need to set boundaries and address.
  3. Prioritize: Prioritize your values and alignment, determine which ones are non-negotiable and hold the most significance in your life. This can help you focus on the most critical areas of realignment. 

As an example, you can create a prioritized chart that has your value, where the misalignment is and what you can do to correct. 

Value (alignment score) Alignment Area (What have you become aware of?) Actions (What actions can you take to resolve?)
Live with Purpose
Score – 3
Inner Dissonance: There’s a mismatch between what I believe is important (my purpose) and what I do. This is causing emotional discomfort and unease. Re-evaluate time requests to focus on activities aligned with my purpose instead of just having fun / going with the flow.

External Dependency:  I will need to manage expectations to those I have to say no to.

Live with Purpose
Score – 5
Reduced Life Satisfaction: I am not satisfied with neglecting my purpose and it is negatively impacting my overall life satisfaction and happiness. Create a list of activities that align to my purpose and how I might apply that to all aspects of my life and schedule time to include them.

Step 3:  Set Boundaries and Act

When living your values is tied to an external dependency there is a 3rd step.  This is often the hardest step because it involves getting real with yourself, taking accountability and facing challenging scenarios head on.  It might also mean taking a really hard look at relationships or circumstances that are in conflict with your values.  If you are not able to overcome that misalignment on your own with your actions, it may require changes to who you spend time with and under what circumstances.    By taking these steps and remaining committed to the process, you can gradually realign your actions with your values. Although it may involve making difficult decisions, the result is a more authentic, fulfilling, and purpose-driven life.

  1. Set Clear Boundaries: Define clear goals and boundaries (how you will need to manage your external dependencies) that reflect your values. Make these goals specific and actionable to guide your future actions.
  2. Eliminate Conflicting Influences: Identify relationships, environments, or circumstances that contribute to the misalignment. If possible, work on resolving conflicts with actions you can take first (change your perspective) or consider making changes in those areas.
  3. Communicate Openly: If conflicts must involve others, have open and honest conversations. Share your values and concerns and try to find common ground or compromise when necessary.

Example:  I need to spend less time or end a relationship with a specific individual because they directly impact my ability to live my values.   When together I have to pretend I am someone I am not.  I have to downplay my true nature to make them comfortable so that I do not have to face the backlash resulting from it.   I need to be direct and share with them who I am, what my values are, how our relationships does not allow me to be that person.  If they want to be in my life, they have to be comfortable with any boundaries (rules) I set, and we agree to.

5-Minute Cup Filler Exercise

Review your value list.

BECOME AWARE: Name one value that you are not living fully today. What is the impact to you?  What would the impact be in you were living the value fully?

BE GRATEFUL: Rephrase your observation into the choice you can be grateful for.  What is the “better version of you” you choose instead?

I am grateful for __(insert what you became aware of)___ because it gives me a chance to __(insert what you will do differently)__.

TAKE ACTION: What is one choice you can make to improve the outcome?  Name an additional action you choose to take throughout the day to reinforce.

Jen Weis

The publisher of Morning Cup.