“All decision making is nothing but values clarification.”
(“Personal Power II”, Anthony Robbins)
Our values form the core of our humanity. Many people simply do not consider this and find it hard to determine the values that guide their lives. Have you established clear values for your life?
Without values, we end up reacting to events instead of doing what is most meaningful to us. Values help us to determine our goals in life and serve as a guide to our daily decisions and actions.
If we know what we value most, then we are better able to make effective decisions.
Living in accordance with our values determines our level of wellness, fulfilment and happiness.
Values are our personal moral principles or beliefs about what is right and desirable. They influence our attitude and behaviour.
From my experience, living up to my values enhances my self-esteem. Our self-respect increases when our behaviour matches our values. When we behave in ways that conflict with our belief in what is appropriate, we lose face in our own eyes. We respect ourselves less. For example, if I value integrity, then I retain my self-respect as long as I speak the truth and am trustworthy. However, if I value integrity but tell lies and fail to honour my commitments, then my self-respect is eroded. So values are crucial to enhancing our self-responsibility and self-esteem.
Values guide us in what we want to achieve and enable us to live consistently in the world. But these beliefs or values can either liberate or limit us. You may have been exposed to certain beliefs and values as you were growing up. They may have ceased to serve you, or they may never have served you. The good news is that the values you learnt in early life which you would like to discard can be changed, but this does take effort. To begin, you would need to give yourself permission to change these values. Thereafter, you should take responsibility for clearly defining what values are yours and for living with them.
There are two types of values: means values and ends values. Means values are simply the ‘instruments’ that help you to achieve a deeper set of values, for example money or a car. Examples of ends values include happiness, love, success and security. Have you ever pursued a means value as if it were an ends value? Money, for instance, is really a means to an end. Many people state they want money when really they are seeking what money can give them, such as choice, stability and control. The key to a fulfilling life is to know what you are really after, that is, the ends values.
Take time now to identify your five most important values. In other words, what is most important in your life? To assist you in determining your core values, answer the following questions in your journal or diary:
Now list your values in order of priority. What are the feelings that you value? For example love, happiness, passion. These are the feelings that are the real driving force in your life.
Once your values are clear, you will be able to identify your major purpose in life which – naturally – will embrace these values. Then set goals with your purpose and values as their foundations. This is an interactive process – your values determine your purpose and your actions. In turn, your actions lead to the reinforcement of your desire for, and attainment of, your goals – which give expression to your purpose and values. In later articles, vision, mission and goal-setting will be addressed.
These examples may assist you in determining or confirming your personal values. Add your own if you wish:
Making a difference
Should we choose to live consistently with our personal values, then we should experience long-term health and happiness. As Anthony Robbins states: ‘Nothing has any power over me other than that which I give it through my conscious thoughts.’