5 Things You Need To Know About Your Values

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Shorter Version

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What does the word “values” mean to you?

Very often we think of our religious or spiritual beliefs. But they are so much more than that. They are the foundation of our behaviour and character and play a big part in our lives. 

Many of us try hard to feel happy and fulfilled in life and work and sometimes we’re able to achieve it. For a while at least. But, if you want sustained life and work satisfaction, you must align your decisions and actions with your values. So spend some time getting to know yourself. What’s important to you? If you were to describe yourself using 20 words, what would they be?

Values can be described using words such as loyalty, honesty, love, respect, integrity, etc. They often develop during childhood and adolescence and shape the person we become. Our values are what are important to us, they shape our lives, the decisions we make, and the actions we take. Knowing our values helps us understand what drives us.

Below are 5 things you should know.

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Actionable Steps


Our values are our own

Research suggests that we are shaped by the 5 people we spend the most time with. Be careful who these people are and how much of an influence they have on you! Your values should still be your own; they represent your uniqueness and individuality. When thinking about your values, don’t think about what’s important to others or what other people might think about you, think about what’s important to YOU. This is the only way you’ll see what’s really important.


Our values change over time

Our values do not stay the same. Often as we grow up we adopt the values our family and friends believe are important or take on characteristics we admire in others. But as we develop as an adult and have different experiences, our values change. Just because something was important to us once, doesn’t mean it always will be and, as we develop as a person, so too do our values.


There are different types of values

Values come in all shapes and sizes.

Our idealistic values are things we aspire to be or have, e.g.: success, happiness, integrity, a sense of achievement.

Our core operational values are things we need in order to function in a healthy way, e.g.: security, stability, process, control.

We can often identify these by developing our self-awareness and reflecting on the reasons for our past behaviour and decisions. However, we also have unconscious values; values that drive us without us realising. These are often more challenging to identify but if you pay attention to what any maladaptive behaviour (unhealthy behaviour) gives you, you may start to see them. 


Some values are more important than others

Naturally, we have an order of priority for our values; some are more important than others. This influences our choices and actions (or lack of in some cases). If you want to be ahead of the game, it’s important to know the order in which your values rank so once you’ve identified your values, rank them in order of importance. This will help you make good decisions and take positive actions that align with what’s most important to you. Ask yourself “if I had to choose between…….and…….what would I pick?” to help you do this.


There’s a problem if our values aren’t met

When we don’t honour our values our mental, emotional, and physical health are negatively impacted and we are unable to remain fulfilled in our lives and jobs. When our fundamental needs are not being met (often represented as operational values) conflict is more likely to occur, especially in the workplace. Think about a time you’ve reacted to something that was out of character, why did this happen? Often it’s because our values aren’t being met, e.g.: becoming frustrated with a change at work can be common if stability and consistency are operational values.

By building our life and work around our values we create a life that is more satisfying and meaningful to us. So, take some time to learn what your values are. Grab a pen and paper and write a list of 20 words that represent your values. Highlight your top 3; the things that are most important to you. Ask yourself, do your thoughts, actions and behaviour fit with these values? If not, what changes do you need to make?

Still need help? Ask the coaches!

About the Author

Stacey O'Callaghan

Stacey O’Callaghan

Life Coach

Hi, I’m Stacey and I’ve spent 12 years helping people take back control. Working with me goes beyond the goal we’re working on. It provides the opportunity for mindset growth and transformational change.

I use distinction accredited psychological techniques to achieve these results and empower people to own and adjust their behavior so they can achieve their own definition of thriving. With my help, you form a clear vision of what thriving means for you whether that be at work or in your personal life, and we create an action plan outlining how to achieve it.
Website | 1:1 Coaching | Facebook

This article was re-posted with permission from the author, Stacey O’Callaghan, at SJS Coaching.

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