Before you can select goals and development objectives for your life and your career, you need to know what you value above all else in your life. Deciding how to spend your time, how to use your energy and where to focus your efforts – all of that starts with knowing what matters to you. Only when you know what you value the most, are you ready to make deliberate choices that reflect what matters to you the most.
Values drive how you spend your time and how you make choices and decisions for activities and events that are important to you. Your values are especially helpful with choosing among options – which events to attend, what to do first, which actions to take next etc. When it comes to decision-making: select options that align best with your values and avoid options that are not aligned with your values or may even be opposites to your values.
This tool (see download option above) an help you define your own values; it contains a list of statements to guide you on your quest. Instructions on how to use the template can be found at the top of the worksheet. First you read through the statements and then put a Y for yes in the first column to indicate those statements which most appeal to you from a gut-feel perspective. (It seems or feels right to you; knowing yourself and what you find important in life). The next step is to look at only the ones you have selected with a Y – put a score between 1 and 10 next to the selected items using the column to the right of each statements to indicate how important that selected statement (representing a value) is to you. The highest scores indicate your highest values. Rephrase or clarify any of the value statements if they do not fit 100% with how you see it.
- Feel free to add more statements or words at the bottom of the list if you think of values that are not shown. I find that these lists are good at helping one start-up the process and then your own ideas and words start to pop into your mind. This then enables you to complete the process without needing to use the listed statements.
- Once you have your list of top 5 values, check that against how you spend your time and ask yourself if your choices reflect your values or not. If they do, great. If they do not, what will you change to ensure you spend your time in a way that reflects your values better?
- Look at people you spend time with. Are you surrounded by people who share your values or do they have different values? If their values are aligned with yours, great. If their values are not aligned with yours, what will you do to ensure that you are able to live up to your own values?
- Your job and the company you work for/the office environment – do you feel that your values are compatible with the environment and how leaders are behaving? Are people (employees and customers) being treated in a way that you feel is aligned with your values? I am not suggesting that you resign tomorrow if there is a disconnect between your values and status quo. Instead I would like to pose a question… what can you do to positively impact how things are being done right now? And what do you think are the best steps to take if you do not see any improvement over time or a better alignment with your values?
It is not easy to hold yourself accountable in this way; knowing what your values are and being honest with yourself about how well your life choices align with your values. It is possible that some people will get upset with you when you consciously start making different choices with the way you spend your time and the things you are interested in or willing to do. The benefit of making decisions with your values in mind is that you will be able to take a more direct line to accomplishing your goals. This will impact time management, prioritizing preferences and cutting out those items that distract you from achieving the goals and objectives that you have set for yourself.