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Clarifying Your Values

Note: If you don’t want to read the blog, you can either watch the webinar or listen to the audio.

Talking about ‘values’ is one of my favorite topics because I still believe that if you don’t understand your values, you will not have a solid foundation in life.  When you clarify your values, it sets the foundation for everything you do.

In this post, I’m going to take more of a general overview of values.  So first when you clarify your values, your priorities become much clearer because many times our priorities are based on our values. For example, I have friends that have children and grandchildren and their top values are very much focused on ‘family’; therefore, when they have quite a busy schedule obviously their priorities will mainly be focused on family as it is one of their key values. If you are running a business, your values will influence the kind of business you will run; your your values set the standard for everything you do.

So firstly what is a core value? A core value is an internal guiding belief that actually runs your life. You may not know it, but it can be working at the subconscious level.  It comes from a variety of people and places – parents, family, friends and peers, religious upbringing, culture.  You can also reinvent your own value system. I know people who have various values and ‘family’ may not have been one of their highest values but as soon as they became a parent, their values shifted because they had another human being in their life that they were responsible for.

You might move to a different country.  I moved from America to Australia and met different people and got to experience a different culture so even some of my values have changed over a period of time.

Here are some examples of core values: honesty, integrity, respect, cooperation, learning, health, wealth, abundance, beauty, freedom, adventure, appreciation, contentment, peace, fun, friendship, and family.  There’s many more you can find on the internet.  Sometimes how you define values can be quite different.  If you look at the value of ‘freedom’, one way a person defines freedom can be quite different than another way someone defines freedom.

When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.  Roy Disney stated:

When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.

Any time you make a decision, you’re going to know inside if your actions are congruent with your values.  I am a big believer of that.

Values can be put into a few different categories.  So let’s look at some. There are the personal or self values similar to what we discussed earlier. These are values that constitute a real critical part of your core values and are apparent in many of your attitudes, your beliefs, and your actions.  They are considered essential principles that build our life and guide us when we relate to other people.  Our initial influence can come from family.

The second one is social-cultural values. These values are those which put the rights of people first – looking at that social aspect and the cultural aspect. Many of these types of values have been challenged and changing due to the influence of the internet and social media.  Some of these values can include equality, justice, liberty, freedom, and also national pride.  These types of social-cultural values are usually instilled with us when we are quite young. They can also change with time. They could either coincide with our family or personal values, or they could constitute a mix of different values.  Sometimes they can contradict one another as well; this is where sometimes we are posed with a dilemma that we might believe things should be one way but our cultural values may see things in another way.

Political values are values or ideological beliefs about the best way to govern a country or an organization – and this can be through welfare, democracy and civil responsibility. Once again we’re seeing many government structures and leadership being challenged in many parts of the world today.

Economic values are based around money.  Many people have different attitudes and values about money. Some people say money is not that important; it’s about doing good work and contributing to the world. Other people feel that money has a high value factor  because it provides them freedom to be able to do whatever they way – like take care of their family.

Next one is spiritual and religious values. I put these in the same category as I know people have a different definition of what is ‘spiritual’ and what is ‘religious’.  Some friends are quite religious and see that is part of their spiritual practice.  I have other friends who claim they are ‘spiritual’ yet don’t believe in religious ‘institutions’.  Basically spiritual and religious values refers to the importance we give to the non-material aspects of our lives. Some people use the word ‘God’, ‘Universe’ or ‘Spirit’.   These values can also relate to how we should act which can include caring for other living species on this planet.

Family values are valued derived from the fundamental beliefs of parents that can be passed on to educate their children. These values can also include the importance of having a family or the common bond of family.

Moral values are the attitudes and behaviors that a society considers essential for co-existence for order and also general well-being. These too I think are being challenged in many parts of the world today as we see parts of the world being far from orderly.

The last set of values are material and lifestyle values.  These are the ones that help us to survive. They can be related to our basic human needs such as food, clothing and protection from the environment.  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs states that once our basic human needs are met, we can start to think about lifestyle values which can be quite expansive and expensive such as traveling the world.

So as you can see there are different value categories and that many of these values are quite interlinked. People will have different perspectives; there is no right or wrong. These are your values and you own them.

Ask yourself this: What are your values for each of these categories – and then relate them back to which of them are your core values that you can reflect on that actually drive and set the foundation on decisions you make in daily life?

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