Defining Your Values

If you want to change a behavior such as going to the gym, being engaged more with family, or investing more at work, you need motivation. We all know this, but have you thought about what determines your motivation?



Motivation is the product of your values and values are the ideas you hold closest. Values are what wakes you up and get you engaged; they drive you forward. Values can be positive or negative. Positive values bring you to a better place. They build you up whereas negative values are shallow and slowly ruin your character. Some examples of positive values are fairness, confidence, continuous learning, love of adventure, and respect. Examples of negative values are bitterness, criticism, dependency, greed, and pessimism. Can you see how positive values will bring you to a better place, while negative values will isolate you from people and the life you want?


Your values should build upon each other. Each value should support your other values rather than contradict them. For instance, if you value adventure and pessimism, your pessimism will limit your ability to venture into the unknown. Your fear of failure will hold you back from exploring what the unknown offers. If your values are love and family, those match perfect. They both support each other.


My recommendation is to sit down with a pencil and paper and take notes on positive values in your life. I did it the other day and will share my results with you. Your values will change as you change, yet it is important to know what you value at the moment, so you know where you’re heading.


Currently, my values are:


1. Love: Love to me is a desire to make things better. It’s the positive emotion that urges you to improve other people’s lives. For me to live my best possible life, I want to help others reach their potential, I need to leave the world slightly better than I found it. In order for me to do that, I need to constantly be challenging myself and raising the bar. I need to love myself enough to make life a challenge, to give it meaning.


2. Industriousness: Industriousness is diligently working hard toward something of meaning. Without aim, you will have no purpose in life, and without a purpose, life will seem meaningless. With that said, simply having an aim won’t make things better, you must strive toward that aim with everything you have if you want to make it a reality.


3. Creativity: Creativity is the desire to create more from less, literally and figuratively. It’s the heart of what it means to be human. People are problem solvers, it’s our gift from nature. If you want to feel useful and engaged in the world, create something it needs.


4. Curiosity: Curiosity is a strong desire to learn. Without a growth mindset, you are not willing to change and since the only constant is that nothing ever remains the same, you should be curiously learning in order to stay relevant.


5. Courage: Courage stems from the Latin word Cor or heart. Courage is the core of what makes everything else possible. If you are not brave enough to define and go after your values, don’t bother with anything else. Courage is at the heart of a healthy life.


Those are my current values. They are driving me forward. But one question remains, where is that forward? If I am going to love, love who and in what order? If I am going to be courageous, courageous for what cause? People like all animals have a natural ranking structure of everything’s usefulness, it’s meaning. All living things have a hierarchy, even a tree will lean toward the sun over the shade.


The final part of your values is the summation of all of them. For me, this is an inward out approach. I prioritize my values around me first because if I don’t take care of myself, no one will, nor should they. Then it’s my family. My main responsibility is family, they are the closest extension of me. Following that is friends and extended family and so on. I don’t prioritize any value over another, yet I prioritize how I invest my values in activities I do. I rank them in a hierarchy, placing emphasis on those who are closest to me.


When I have to make a decision, it’s always simple. I ask two questions;

1. Does this line up with my values?

2. Is it a priority?


If the decision lines up with my values and it’s a priority, I get right to it. If it’s not, I evaluate it appropriately. Using this map to navigate through life tells you where you are going and how to get there. It’s simple yet extremely beneficial.

I hope you find this useful and it gets you thinking about what means the most to you. Your values are the motives behind your motivation, they are who you want to be. Your priorities free your mind to take action so you are not hammered by the anxiety of choice. Take 20 minutes and think about what means the most to you. Write your top five values down as well as how you will execute them and share them in the comments below.


Always improve,


Chris

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© 2020 by Christopher Johnson, Ed.D. No information on this site is to be taken as medical advice. Newton, Ma 02460