Simply defined, your core values are the things that are most important to you and that you love to do or be. They are like light posts on our journey of purpose, letting us know we are on the right track.
The word “values” is not mine and really not my favorite since it is not descriptive enough and is easily confused with another definition. We are not talking about “moral values”. The closest I could come with a better word would be “valuables”, since these are the things you value the most. It is quite the tongue twister though and not really catchy. I’ll have to stick with the experts and use “values” If you can come up with a better word, please let me know.
Our values are unique to each of us. They are the things that give our life meaning, purpose and joy. They can produce peak experiences and be the source of profound fulfillment and passion in life. You actually already have a set of values. Experts say our values are formed before the age of 5. We develop ways of living based on what we observe and experience. Ok, you might ask, if I already have these values then why am I not experiencing the joy and fulfillment? Good question?
Two reasons here. 1) We pick up others values and think they are our own and 2)they are based on a 5 year olds interpretation of life. As we grow we add new experiences and even new values based on our adult life and self. This can lead to a conflict of values. An example might be a person growing up in a family where parents have a high regard for higher education and either hold an advanced degree or wish they did. You are encouraged to study hard and graduate in order to be successful. You take this as a value of Education (meaning degrees). If while in high school you find you really love working with your hands and especially with cars and decide to go to trade school and become a mechanic for Nascar. You might become a really wonderful mechanic and even make a lot of money., but feel something is missing. A lack of fulfillment even when successful is usually a values conflict. This person believes he can only be successful with the advanceddegree, yet does not have his life congruent with that.
Doing values work, you can choose to keep the value as it is and bring your life into congruence with it. If you really think it is important enough to keep as a value, you must act on it to experience the meaning and purpose in your life. If not, you can get rid of it totally or adjust or tweak it into something that is meaningful to you. Perhaps the new value for the above example would be to change it to Lifelong Learning, or Growing, not based on a degree, but on your own passion for learning.
By honestly looking at old values and courageously choosing these things that are congruent with the way we want our lives to be as an adult they can lead us toward our purpose and experience a life waking up each day with excitement.
I shall be posting more about values, since it is one of the best ways I know to help create and live out a life of purpose.