Values are the secret key to unlocking your success and happiness. When your values are not clear, or are not being lived, or are out of alignment it causes confusion, frustration, difficulty and pain. When you live and act from your values tough decisions become clear, persistent issues get resolved and life starts to flow even in the face of life’s challenges. Here’s my 3 tips on how you can unlock the power of your values to be happier and more successful.
1. Name It & Explain It
First things first, before you can do anything with values, you have to know what they are. Most people have an underlying sense of what our values are, but they don’t always have their values clearly articulated. If you can’t clearly articulate your values, then you won’t be able to use them as the guiding framework that they are. Each of your values needs to be articulated in one powerful word that sums up that value for you and it needs to go with an explanatory sentence – 10 words or less, that clearly expresses what that values means for you. For example:
Value Statement: Make a difference where I am with what I have
Value Statement: Be excellent and have the rewards to prove it
It’s important that you not only have the word to summarize each value, but also a powerful sentence that explains what that value means. This makes the value clear for you, but it also ensures that you can explain your values to others in a way that they understand your personal interpretation of that value. The reason that the “explanatory sentence” is so important is that words tend to be “loaded” and have different meanings for different people. For example, many people will have the value of “leadership”. Leadership is a big word and can be overwhelming for you and confusing for others. Thus, you need a crystal clear short sentence that explains what leadership means to you, so you are clear and you can make sure others are clear. Your values need to fall out of our month, meaning that they need to be so clear to you that you can speak about them without even thinking about it.
2. Get Hierarchical
Your values are not created equal. When it comes down to it certain values have a higher priority than other values. You may value family above success, or personal peace above financial success, or adventure over financial security. It is important to know what hierarchy your values fall in to so that you can use them to guide your decisions appropriately. For example, my values are in the following order:
The order of my values significantly influences the decisions I make and the resulting happiness with those decisions. For example, being successful is one of my top 5 values, but it’s the least important out of my top 5. This makes “success” important, but not as important as my other values. Thus, to be happy in the long-term I need to make career decisions that offer freedom, leadership and adventure foremost because that’s what is the most important to me. And when I’ve made career choices on the basis of financial success over my top values it has always led to confusion, frustration, difficulty and pain over time. Your top 5 values offer you a filter or hierarchy you can use to make difficult decisions that will make you happier and more successful in the long-term.
3. Live It To Love It
Just because you have values doesn’t mean you live them. The first thing I do with every client I work with is the values exercise below. After, they have completed the values exercise I get my clients to rate how they think they are doing in living each one of their values. Often the issue that my client is facing is that they are not living one of their values, or they are not living their values in hierarchal order, which is the cause of the confusion, frustration, difficulty and pain in their life/business. If you want your life to be more successful and happier you need to start living all your values. The good news is you don’t have to do it all at once. You just need to move in the direction of living your values. Each decision you make either moves you closer to or further from your values. So, you just need to take actions and make decisions, both big and small, that are in line with your values and over time you’ll find that you’re living more in line with your values and that you’re happier and more successful.
Get started by defining your values in this values exercise.
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