In the last blog I wrote about developing your personal brand, which essentially is all about self-awareness, and as part of that, promised to look at values in this blog. So why look at values? Some people may think it is navel gazing. Others say, ‘I’m just not that reflective.’ (They are self-reflective enough to realise that). Our values represent our uniqueness, who and how we are. They serve as a compass point, pointing the direction to the way home. Our values help us to make choices in our career and personal lives that are more in tune with who we are and this is key to being happy. So the following is a ‘how to’ on identifying your values. Given that our values represent the core of us, this is no small topic. So it will be continued in the next blog. Take your time doing this. Spread it out over a few days, weeks or even months. Revisit it from time to time as values can change as we change.
It’s been written to focus on your career and wider life. But you can do this exercise twice, focusing on your career and life outside work separately, then compare the results. It’s up to you.
Think of those events and key decisions you’ve made that you remember most in your life. They can be from any point in your life, personal or work related, happy, sad or something in between. Choose a mixture of them as both upsetting and peak moments have something to offer. The key thing is the events and decisions must ‘grab’ you in some way, they stand out.
- What was happening? What were you doing and saying? Who else was there?
- What were you feeling?
- What was important to you?
- What did you want to get at that time? Did you get it? What did having it do for you?
- If you didn’t get it, what would having it have done for you?
- What values do you think you were honouring at that time?
Also look at what you must have in your life (going beyond basic necessities, handbags, shoes, golf clubs, gadgets, etc), that if you cannot have it, a part of you feels like it is not there. For example, serving a cause you consider worthwhile gives you a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction and perhaps connection with others.
Lastly, what more extreme behaviours do you sometimes show? (We all have them.) This can be that behaviour you know annoys others, what people tease you about and you know that sometimes it may seem a little extreme. For example, I love things to have their place. I enjoy tidying up and my husband jokes that one day he will find himself in a cupboard.
Jot down key words or phrases to represent your responses. Use a pencil so you can erase at will if need be. Use language that makes sense to you. If you want to string words together because it feels right, do it, eg. accomplishment/satisfaction/connection with others. If you find yourself using negative language, ask yourself what you were aiming for.
That is plenty to get started. Put your work to one side for now and revisit it at a later time. We’ll continue on this theme in the next blog where we will look at values in more depth and refine them further.