by Diane Linsley
The values process is one of my favorite coaching tools. It works
wonderfully to help clients prioritize their goals and figure out how
to invest their limited time, energy and resources.
I learned from my teacher Bill Harris that working on values is
more efficient than working on beliefs. Each of us has millions of
beliefs. Trying to identify them all is impossible. But a single value encompasses many beliefs. When I identified and prioritized my own values, many conflicting beliefs ceased to be a problem, and I got clear about what I really wanted in my life.
What are Values?
A value is something that is important to you. Values determines how you spend your time, money and energy. Values can be objects, people, activities or abstract ideas. Here are some examples:
For the first step in the values process, make your own list of things that are important to you.
Prioritizing Your Values
Now, choose the top ten most important values on your list, and rewrite them on a separate piece of paper, listing them in order of importance. Take the time to think deeply about this.
Next, test to see if you got the order right. Take the top two values on your list, and say to yourself, "If I could have ___ 0r ___, but not both, which one would I choose?" Imagine a scenario in which these two values would be in conflict - a situation in which you would be forced to choose between them.
For example, if my top two values were Freedom and Love, I would say, "If I could have freedom without love, or love without freedom, which one would I choose?"
Continue down your list, rearranging the order as needed. You may need to rewrite your list more than once. It can be helpful to do this process with a life coach or a friend who can act as a sounding board. A coach can ask powerful questions to help you determine what is truly most important to you.
You may be surprised to discover that your values are not necessarily what you expected. And they may conflict with what you were taught by authority figures in the past. If so, that's great! You just learned something new about yourself.
Can you see how your values determine every choice in your life? Nearly everyone is walking around making unconscious choices from an undefined list of mixed up values in their heads! Now you see why people are so confused.
To make matters worse, most people are trying to live by their parents' or friends' values, not their own. Consequently, they are angry, frustrated and exhausted from trying to do everything and be everything to everyone. When you clarify your own values, life is simpler.
I had a young client who was stressed out because her mother wanted her to hurry up and get married. When she listed her values, she put relationships near the top. But as we went through the process, she discovered there were many things that were more important to her. Once she got clear, she found that relationships were actually near the bottom.
She had been stressed out for years by trying to live her life according to her mother's values while simultaneously rebelling and feeling guilty about doing what she really wanted to do. When she identified her own values, she was liberated from the negative feelings, and she found a renewed enthusiasm for life. Best of all, she saw how she was creating her own life. She took responsibility and stopped blaming others for her circumstances.
Alternatively, she could have made a deliberate decision to put relationships at the top of her list. If she had purposely re-ordered her values, her life would have changed to reflect her new values hierarchy.
The final step in this process is to ask yourself these questions: First, do your values reflect the way you are currently living your life? In other words, are you living in integrity? Second, is this the way you want to live your life in the future? If not, change your values and watch how your life changes to reflect your new priorities.
Be True to Your Values
Your values are unique to you. Are you living your own life or someone else's?
"If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don't have integrity, nothing else matters." ~Alan K. Simpson
Knowing your values can help you set boundaries. Ask yourself, "What am I doing that I don't want to do? What am I not doing that I do want to do?"
When you are clear about your values, you will automatically move in the direction of your goals, even as you are living in the Now and enjoying the journey.
Over the last decade, I have purposely changed my values hierarchy three times. Each time I did this, my life changed dramatically to match my new priorities. This is a powerful process. Use it wisely.
Once you are clear about your values, you will find yourself feeling more motivated to achieve your goals. Here's a guided meditation for goals.
As a life coach, I use many different processes to help
people with their personal growth. Click here if you are
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