Have you ever thought about what your personal values are?
This year I burnt out and after working with a coach to get me back on track – I realised, I felt burnout and anxious because my actions were so misaligned with what I wanted and needed.
After becoming a Mum I returned to work 4 days a week but eventually agreed to work full-time, 5 days a week. This was a part of the unravelling! Working with a coach we covered a lot of ground but one question that stood out for me was – “if there were no compromises, what do you want to do” – the answer was I wanted to go back to working a 4-day week and spend Friday’s with my baby.
I felt pressure to return to work 5 days; from myself wanting to prove I could do it and from the business, because that’s “the norm”.
My values of wanting to spend time with my family were completely out of sync and it was showing in my mood, my body and my performance as a leader – it was coming out of me as stress and anxiety. Sound familiar?
What are personal values?
“Values are compass points for your life. As long as you focus on your compass points you know you’re always heading in the right direction.“Helen Carouzos, Clinical Psychologist and Counsellor.
You might not have heard the term ‘personal values’ before, or you might recognise it as a different concept – they’re highlighted in many cultures as an important aspect of wellbeing.
From Dharma in Hinduism, meaning “duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues and “right way of living”.
To Ikigai in Japanese culture, which looks at:
- What you love
- What you’re good at
- What you can be paid for
- What the world needs
To be Magnetic Founder terms them as your “authentic Code” or you may have heard it called your soul purpose.
How to discover your personal values?
The ‘To be Magnetic’ program asks you to really think about what you love – what drives and motivates you. Some of the questions that help you to understand your values include;
- What do I look forward to doing the most?
- What do I spend most of my money on?
- What am I the most organised and proactive about?
- How/to who are you most reliable?
- What do you visualise the most when thinking about the future?
- What do you talk about the most or wish you could say?
- What is most organised in your life?
- What are your long term goals?
- What do you love learning about?
For each question, write down your top four answers for each. Once you’ve answered them all – look for reoccurring or consistent themes. These are your values or “authentic code”.
If you’ve never asked yourself what’s important to you before, if you’ve always put others’ needs first, it can be hard to know what you value.
Meditation can be a good way to quieten everything and start listening to your inner knowing.
You can meditate in silence, sitting on the floor, just counting your breath. Or use apps such as Headspace which help guide you through different meditation practices. Great for beginners!
You can see what comes up for you during your meditation or ask yourself the question “what matters most to me” and see what is presented back to you. After your meditation, make sure you note anything down.
This is a favourite practice of mine. If you have a journal already, read back – is there anything that stands out to you? Are there themes around what lights you up or pisses you off?
Spend some time writing down everything you value, what your goals are, what sort of person you are/want to be.
Review your values at the end and round up into 3-5 that really matter most to you.
How to conduct a personal values audit?
Speaking with Clinical Psychologist and Counsellor, Helen Carouzos, we discuss how she works with her clients to assess how well they’re living their personal values.
Values can be broken down into life categories such as;
- Intimate relationships
- Social relationships
- Health & fitness
Helen speaks about how important the values audit is for raising awareness. It’s important once you’ve highlighted (from the above categories) which are most important to you – you then go into detail on why? List three points for each point and then mark out of 10:
- How important is each point?
- How well are you currently living in accordance with each point?
Helen states, what’s revealing about the personal values audit is that the things you say are important to you, are often not aligned with your actions. This can cause conflict, anxiety, resentment and stress in the body.
Once it’s clear where the misalignment is in values, Helen works with her clients to put in place behavioural changes that support her clients in living their values.
Wheel of life + audit table (create download for this)
What can stop you from living your values?
“We all hold values, consciously or unconsciously, that direct our steps.”http://www.positivepsychology.com
Changing behaviours to move towards your lived values can be hard work. Helen speaks of “musturbatory thinking”.
Musturbatory thinking is a set of rules or beliefs you have created for yourself. These can link back to childhood beliefs and stop us from reaching our true potential. But have you stopped to question what’s behind those beliefs? Are they still relevant? Do they still work for you now?
One example Helen shared was putting off a conversation with a boss around healthy work boundaries. What belief is stopping you from having that discussion? Starting to break down the beliefs that are keeping you trapped helps to set ‘stepping-stone goals’ to living your true values. And your best life!
- Values are central to many cultures ideals of happiness or being content – e.g. Dharma in Hinduism or Ikigai in Japan
- To discover your personal values, you need to question what’s important to you – this can be structured or by tools such as meditation or journaling
- A values audit can help you to establish a misalignment in believed and lived values and help set goals to bridge the gap
- Behavioural change and breaking down old belief systems might be required to really work towards your true values