"Clear on Your Values?" It's a question I get asked a lot from those of us in the "get ahead, go forward" crowd. The ones who would like to see you excel at work and in your personal life - the ones who want you to succeed rather than fail. The ones who want to make sure you know what's important and what isn't.
Well, the good news is that you don't have to get hung up on these two questions. In fact, clear on your values can be a big benefit to your overall goal to "go well." So, how do you clear your values? Let's look at a few examples of how you can accomplish this.
Priorities - Before you dive into setting priorities, take a moment to identify what's most important to you. Are your family and career issues? Are you looking after your kids? Or, are you looking ahead to retirement?
Focus - Focusing your efforts on what's important first will allow you to take actions towards achieving your values. It also gives you a starting point from which to begin to set goals for yourself. Focus first on what's important to you and then go from there. For instance, if your family is your highest priority, working your job and making a living will likely be lower priorities than spending more time with your children. In both situations, however, you'll still be working toward your family's happiness.
Prioritize. Once you've identified what's most important to you, it's time to prioritize. Put your highest priorities in writing (on a sheet of paper or your cellphone) so you'll be reminded of them every day. Write down your goals next. But, focus on the important part - what it is you'll be doing to achieve your values.
Prioritize your activities. It's OK to say that you don't have time for all the things that are important to you; but when you focus on those activities that will move you closer to your goals, you'll feel more motivated. Your list of "to do" things may seem long, but as you go through your daily activities, you'll be amazed at how little time you actually have to do everything.
Be consistent. Maintain your values, even as you grow. Cultivate and reinforce them, and don't let them go. They're with you for life - they can't be changed - but they're also part of your core personal values, and part of the reasons you want to achieve your goals. So keep them clear, even as you grow and change your circumstances.
Be flexible. Even as you get better at reaching your goals and becoming successful. When you're feeling as if you're not making enough progress, re-evaluate your plan. If you know your values and your goals are aligned, there's no need to make changes that might be detrimental to your success. You can adapt your plan to fit your new level of effort. And in doing so, you'll clear your path toward a clear path toward a successful life.
Be honest. No matter who you are or how successful you think you are, other people are always getting an opinion. Don't take offense, or assume it's their job to determine what your values are and whether they're compatible with yours. Consider this: Most people believe that they know what your values are, because they've heard them spoken several times. But they've never actually read your Values Contents, so they're really not able to tell if your values line up with theirs - or if they match.
Be real. Write down your values, and be sure you're living by them. Refrain from pretending to be someone you're not, because then people will question your values, which is the last thing you want. Real, genuine life is about authenticity and being authentic can make you feel clear and grounded - and secure and strong and comfortable in your own skin.
Know yourself first. Determine what your values are, before you attempt to fit into other people's lives. Be aware that other people are likely to doubt your own value system, especially if they've never met you. So be aware of what you want from life as well - and don't let people tell you what your values are, because they won't know if they fit with yours if you don't tell them.
Do what you can to support your values. Support your own beliefs, and accept others' beliefs - but do it wholeheartedly. It may seem obvious, but it's a valuable lesson. People often set themselves up as being something they're not, just in order to attract others who do those things. And that includes undermining their own values - so you have to stay clear on your values. And, of course, you have to set them aside and put them where they belong - in your heart.