Values guide our decision making, direct our actions and reflect what is important to us. The values we live by are demonstrated in our daily life through what we focus on, how we act towards others, what we say and what we do.
DEFINING OUR PERSONAL VALUES IS AN EXERCISE THAT ALL OF US SHOULD DO.
Why don’t we? More often than not, when doing the exercise, we realize that our personal values may not be ones we have chosen but ones that our family have held. These passed-on values are often adopted unconsciously, and one of the important steps in adulthood is to examine, reaffirm or claim personal values that truly support who we are, who we want to be, and how we want to live our lives.
THIS SORTING PROCESS CAN BE A LITTLE DICEY.
Some find out that they do not align with one or more of their family values, and this may cause friction in the family; others realize that they have developed a life in total opposition to their family values, and they finally understand their behavior; and still others find a middle ground of affirming some of their adopted values as well as finding some that fit more closely with the life they want to lead.
If you haven’t done this exercise yet, we encourage you to do it. Why?
- If you have a young family, it is wise to know what values you are teaching your children. Are they really the values you want to pass on to them? How are you demonstrating these values? That’s what really matters!
- If your children are college age, just entering into the workforce, in the workforce and/or not yet in a committed relationship, doing the exercise as a family can encourage everyone to name the values they live (including those they don’t agree with). Assuming everyone shows up open and willing to listen, this exploration and discussion will not only make the family collectively stronger. but will also help your adult children know what is important to them as they enter into long-term relationships or choose their work.
- If you are transitioning into a new phase of your life, this exercise can help you increase your intentionality as to what you want to create in this new phase of your life. Whether you are planning to retire, transitioning out of a long-term relationship, or assessing your next career path, this exercise can help inform and guide your decisions and actions.