Values Process
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 what
is most important to them.

Working on values is more efficient than working on beliefs. We
each have millions of beliefs, and trying to identify all of them is
impossible. 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 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:

Personal Growth

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 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 ___ or ___, 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 exactly 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.

Values Conflicts

Can you see how values determine every choice in your life? Most people are walking around making unconscious choices from an undefined list of mixed-up values. Now you know why they are 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. When you clarify your values, life is simpler.

I had a young client who was anxious 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 that many other things were more important to her. Once she got clarity, she found that relationships were actually near the bottom.

She had been stressed out for years trying to live 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 and feelings.

I had another client who came to me for dating coaching. Upon doing the values process, she discovered that relationship was low on her list. That explained why she couldn't attract one. She decided to re-order her values to make relationship a priority.

Ask yourself these questions: Do your values reflect the way you are currently living your life? In other words, are you living in integrity? 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

"If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don't have integrity, nothing else matters." ~Alan K. Simpson

Your values are unique to you. Are you living your own life or someone else's?

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?"

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 get clear about your values, it will be easier to fulfill your life purpose. Here's a guided meditation for clarity of purpose.

Be well,
Diane Linsley

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