How to find your Life Values for a fulfilling life
WHAT ARE LIFE VALUES AND WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?
What if I told you there was a magical personal hack that would make you experience life through the rosiest of glasses, with no catch, just pure all-around awesomeness? Well scoop me up in a bottle and call me Genie because that is exactly what I’m about to do.
The formula for a deep, meaningful and fulfilling life is quite simple actually. It all comes down to your values. See, your values determine your behaviours. And the sum of your behaviours ultimately determines your life.
Let me clarify something though: goals and values are not the same things. Values dictate who you are or who you want to be. Goals are specific actions that embody those values. This is important because you may or may not achieve your goals but you can ALWAYS choose to live your life according to your values. Ooft. Let that sink in for a minute.
FINDING YOUR VALUES
Let’s take a look at a really simple example. If you decide to read a book for an hour instead of meeting a friend for coffee you’re choosing to value wisdom over connection. Or if you play videogames all morning instead of applying for jobs you’re choosing comfort over growth. There’s no real right and wrong here – these choices are merely a reflection of what values you embody at a specific time in your life. BUT – and this is a big but (no, not that kind of butt, silly) – whether you’re conscious of the values you uphold is another matter entirely.
If we’re not aware of what values matter to us, it’s easy to stick life on autopilot and default to the hand-me-down values we learned in our upbringing and environment. Next thing you know, you wake up one day and think – wtf am I doing with my life? How did I get here? Why am I dating this tool bag? And why do I hate Mondays? *insert whatever existential crisis you identify most with*.
Finding your top values in life is like a quest to figure out who you are at the core of it all. It strips down all the external shiz and zooms in on the bare bones of what is important to you. This gives you the opportunity to jump back in the driver’s seat and steer your life with intention, as opposed to hands-free driving – saving you from many a metaphorical crash.
Once you’ve figured out your life values they’ll be like your hand-crafted bible. A guideline to good-living if you will. Every time you choose a behaviour or make a decision, these blueprints will help you colour within the lines of what matters to you. If you go rogue, then expect discontentment to follow you around like a smelly, unwelcome dog. In other words, your life might stink but you won’t be really sure why.
HOW TO FIND YOUR VALUES
Ok, so now you get why life values are earth-shakingly important for a fulfilled life, but how on actual earth do you find them? Here are some steps to help you do just that.
This can be anyone living or dead, family or friend, celebrity or next-door neighbour – no-one’s off-limits. Take some time to really consider why you admire this person. Is it because they lived their life unapologetically? Because they were kind to you as a kid? Because they accumulated wealth after coming from nothing? This is a great starting point to not only appreciate some values you may share but to also discover some values you would like to embody in the future.
Now it’s time to aim the magnifying glass at yourself – this is where the real self-reflection starts. Hop into google and type in “core values list” – any list will do, just make sure there are quite a few values on it so you have a good amount to choose from. Then, circle the ones that speak to you the most – this could be values you think you already have or values you would love to work more on. Although a lot of them will resonate with you, try and cut them down until you’re left with 8 to 10 important life values.
I know this seems like a pretty simple exercise on the surface, but you may be in for a surprise or two when you do it. When I first compiled my list of core values I got a little cocky and thought I had all my values figured out from the get-go. Spoiler alert: I wasn’t even close.
Upon some reflection, I found out that some values were super important to me yet held no weight in my life. In fact, I embodied the complete OPPOSITE of those values. For example “female empowerment” was one of my top life values. But when push came to shove, my behaviours didn’t reflect that. I was constantly afraid to set my boundaries in my relationships, I people-pleased on the regular and convinced myself that I wasn’t worthy of chasing after the things I desired in my career. What a reality check! Because I was living out of alignment of one of my core values, I felt lost and confused in so many aspects of my life. Can you relate?
HOW TO IMPLEMENT THEM
So now you’ve crafted a list of your top values in life – how can you implement them to make big meaningful shifts? I personally like to apply my life values in two ways: the small picture and the big picture.
This is a super easy way to instantly add more meaning to your day-to-day life. Ask yourself, what routines, habits or behaviours embody my values and support the highest version of myself? Make a list. Some of the behaviours that support my life values are: learning a new instrument (for creativity), dancing in my underwear in my room (for confidence) or a skype call with my Mum (for connection) – not at the same time though. That would be a little weird.
Anytime I’m feeling a bit low-vibe, I pick a couple of things on my list and do them. And guess what? It automatically guarantees that I’ll have an amazing day because I know that those things embody my values, pump me up and make me feel damn good.
Plastering your values on your wall is a nice little visual reminder of what your soul needs to be happy. Don’t do anything fancy with it, just write one value per post-it and put it somewhere you see it often. Some of my examples of values in life are:
Now, anytime I am making a decision in my life, dating someone new, pivoting in my career or doing anything that is kind of a big deal – I double-check to see if that particular situation or person aligns with my core values. You usually know because it feels like a full-body yes. If it’s anything less than a “F**** YEAH!”, it’s a no, and you’ll have to re-assess.
HOW DEFINING YOUR VALUES CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE
Getting clear on your values isn’t going to hand you all of the answers to life on a silver platter. What it will do, however, is infuse your life with so much meaning, depth and purpose, that you’ll be left wondering why on earth you hadn’t done this sooner. At the very least, it will make you a heck of a lot happier. And really, isn’t that the end goal of this big ol’ game we call life?
When I started living in alignment with my core values I started to live a life that made sense to me. I’m not talking about achieving certain goals or outward successes (although those definitely started happening more often after I clarified my values), I mean the way I experienced life fundamentally changed. My day-to-day became packed with soulful moments, my relationships deepened and I now spend my time doing things that I love.
Once you define your values to live by there’s no room anymore for a cruise-control approach to life – from now on it’s full-spectrum living baby.
I’ll leave you with a quick example of how my values are allowing me to live my truth today. Through the system I detailed above I was able to figure out my core values and manifest my current job. Which involves working remotely from a tropical island (equating to my value of freedom). Which also involves writing about personal development (equating to my values of creativity, meaning and impact). Which then involved writing this exact article that you are currently reading about the system I used to find MY values so you can find YOUR values. Whoaaa we just went full meta. The universe has a sense of humour sometimes, hey?
Now I’m not quite sure what your exact recipe is for a magical and fulfilled life, but I do know that if you get crystal clear on your life values you’ll find out – and you’ll experience more magic in your current reality than you could have ever possibly dreamed of.