Let Your Values Guide You
"What are your most important values?" This simple question often stops my clients. Awkward smile, silence, "Ah, yeah, hum…" Some clients honestly tell me that they have no idea about their values. Some others look for a word or two and smile when an answer comes to them. Many of us have been living our lives for decades, often longer than half of our life span. We think we already know a lot about ourselves. What we like to do in our pastime. What food we dislike. Who we love. But what about our most dear values? Have you ever asked yourself this important, possibly life-changing question? What are your top values? If you can answer this question without hesitance, you are in a good place to create a life that you want to live. You are clear about who you are because your values are reflections of who you are or at least who you want to be. Where there is any gap between your values and reality including your actions, decisions, environment, work, and relationships, you would feel unfulfilled, unsatisfied, and inauthentic. For example, if your top value is family but you are not spending enough quality time with your family, you might feel guilty, not being nurtured or loving. If your important value is freedom, you might feel stifled with a secure nine to five job and dream about the unstructured work style of a freelancer. Every December I list my five most important values. It is interesting to see how my list changes every year while some of the values stay there all the time. Once I identify my five top values, I reflect on my current life and see if it aligns with my chosen values. I then create a vision and goals for the coming year based on my top values. For this year, one of my top values (also my all time favorite) is sincerity. I want to be honest about my feelings. I want to be true to my love and interest. I want to work with sincere people as well. After I crystallized my need for sincerity, I let go of a certain project that was appealing but didn't honor this value. Once it left me, I felt much lighter and clearer. I had a strong sense that it was just the right thing to do. When we need to make an important decision, we often create a list of pros and cons. It seems logical, but it often doesn't work well. The longer the list is, the more confused and indecisive we tend to get. There are times when logic and analysis doesn't lead us to a clear decision. All the numbers and facts on the list suggest one thing while our inner voice whispers something else. If you experience such a situation next time, try letting your important values make a decision. Let your top values determine what you do, where you go, and who you become. Taoist masters teach us to use our mind to just observe our reality and our heart to make decisions. Our dear values reside in the center of our heart. Let them shine through us and become a beacon that guides us throughout our journey.
"Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.” ― Gandhi