I have mentioned time and again the importance of knowing yourself.
Well one of the key ways I think you can get to know yourself better is to look deeply at your values.
So here is a crash course of how to find your values. Now I talked about this a while ago on Laugh Life Day 81 when trying to answer the question “who am I”.
The process I gave there (from the book Smart Couples Finish Rich) works well for beginners, but as I stated then I have two main differences in how I look at values: one – you can have more than 5, two – you should rank them.
So let me ask you this
What is most important to you? What is the one thing that you must have? What is it you cannot live without?
Say the first thing that comes to mind – anything.
What is it?
If it is a material thing or a “goal” try to think of the concept that is behind that. For example: if I said “my car” – what does that represent to me: maybe freedom or style or adventure. Behind every material thing you want there is a reason why you want it the probably speaks to a value. If I said “travel” which is more of a goal – chances are there is still a value behind that – perhaps it’s freedom again, or adventure, or personal growth.
Try to isolate that “concept” which the “thing” or the “goal” represent for you.
If you came up with a concept right away, good for you.
But is this really your highest value? Is this really the thing that is most important to you?
Well let me ask you another question to find out: This value, what would it look like or feel like if you had that in your life ALL the time? How would things be different than they are now?
Take some time to explore this question for yourself – really put yourself into what life would be like if you had this value (maybe peace or creativity or joy or adventure) in your life all the time. Really see what you would be doing, with whom you would be doing it, where you would be doing it, and how things would be different than they are now.
If during that exploration you find that this value you have chosen is actually representative of another value that is more important to you, then you start to see how this process goes.
Example: I value creativity – so if I do an in depth look at what life would be like if I had creativity all the time well: I would be writing a lot. I love writing. I would spend as much time as I could creating worlds and characters and telling their stories. But wait (I think to myself) I can’t do that now (how it’s different) because I need to earn an income. So really I want to have the freedom to write and be creative. Hmmm – so maybe freedom is a higher value than creativity. Yeah, that sounds right! So what would my life look like if I had freedom all the time, well obviously I would be writing a lot, I would be doing whatever I wanted. I would be really happy. Hmm is happiness more important to me than freedom? I think so. So if I had happiness in my life all the time what would that look like? … and so on.
Once you’ve really explored this deeply you can start to write down a list:
And when you finally get to the spot where you’ve found that one thing that is most important to you and you can see that life and how all of the other values flow into that and are a part of that life, then you can ask yourself: Alright, what’s the next most important thing to me and find even more values from there.
Keep laughing – and happy values hunting.