Most people know what they value and if you gave them a glossary of values terms, they would be able to circle ones most important to them. However, very few people have ever taken the time to write down their values. The research on writing down your goals is discussed often, but for some reason values get left out of the conversation. I contend that clearly defining our values is more important than defining our goals. My belief stems from the definition of values I have adopted and taught to audiences across the country:
Values are the standards that not only guide the behavior of the individuals who hold them, but serve as their basis for judging the behavior of others.
There are two parts of this definition, both equally important and both having to do with decisions we make. First, we see that values should guide our behavior. They are the parameters for our decision-making process, the guardrails keeping us between the lines.
Secondly, they tell us whether or we not believe what others are doing is right or wrong. I know we were told not to judge others growing up, but that's simply not realistic. We make judgements every day: where we spend our money, who we talk to, who we engage with on social media.
A judgement is simply a considered decision. But what do you use to consider those decisions? What guides your decision making process? And how do you decipher between right and wrong? Without having clearly defined, written values, you would be hard-pressed to convince me you are consistently making values-based decisions.
Establish your core values and write them down. I like this Life Values Inventory.
Is it fair to judge the values of others purely based on their actions?
“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
- J. Krishnamurti