It’s been said that there are two ways to tell what someone cares about — how they spend their time and how they spend their money. Sometimes, it feels like we’re in constant survival mode, scraping to make dollars in a race toward financial freedom. But what is financial freedom anyway? Freedom to do what?
This answer will vary from person to person depending on what they value most. Understanding these values is the foundation for establishing a mindset that can inform your goal setting and ultimately shift the outcomes.
It sounds simplistic, and it isn’t necessarily so, but with proper and regular exploration, it’s a worthy exercise to look within as a start toward goal setting and materialization of a custom-designed, fulfilling life.
What are values anyway?
The definition from Google provides the following:
a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.
Another way to consider this is to call it your “north star” or “guiding light.” It’s the “X” on the treasure map.
A start to clarifying your values
Consider reviewing the list below, and select words that resonate with you. This example is not exhaustive, but rather, it’s to provide a spark in your thinking. Feel free to add other words that identify what matters most to you.
Image provided by the author
Make a list of the value words that resonate with you. Then, sort the words into three to five groupings of like items. As an example, you might group integrity, honesty, and ethics together.
Choose one word from each group to indicate the most resonant or indicative of the group as a whole. Take some time to meditate on the groupings. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, reciting the words silently.
Know your values to guide your behaviors
Armed with three to five value words, begin each day reflecting on what these mean to you. As you face decisions, consider whether they are aligned with your value words.
Example 1: I value family. When I receive an offer to attend a dinner that falls at the same time as a special family event, I respectfully decline, and I feel good about having made a decision in alignment with my values.
When values conflict
What about when I value recognition and family?
Example 2: The boss invites me to present at a high-stakes event where I have the opportunity to connect with important people, but it conflicts with my child’s award ceremony or graduation?
Is this a simple scenario? It is if one value tips the scales heavily, but it’s not always so black and white. Exploration of the outcome can be useful in this scenario. Knowing how to communicate effectively might also. Finally, perhaps you might weigh the potential for future events. There are tradeoffs to every decision that you make.
In any case, this is where working with a coach who can thoughtfully provide space and insights for you to come up with a creative solution could be your best bet.
When boundaries are crossed
Having a good handle on your values is a great way to protect your boundaries. The elders of my day used to say, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”
It doesn’t mean that it’s easy, but when you know what guides you, you can make confident choices that shield you from giving in to the temptations and influence of others.
As we move through the days of our life, it’s easy to get lost in the clutter of our to-do lists. When you consider what’s on your list — right now — what criteria distinguish the yeses from the nos?
Clarifying your values might very well provide the answer to this question.
Follow me on IG at @michelerobertscoaching. Also published on my blog at michelerobertscoaching.com
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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Photo credit: Clay Banks on Unsplash