Movies and books do us a disservice in how easy they make beginnings and endings. Think of how many stories start with a stranger coming to town and end with them fulfilling some goal. In actuality, you carry the baggage of how you got there into the story and beyond the end.
Few things flow as simply and cleanly as in a story. The one thing stories really convey that can be emulated is the adoption and resonance of core values in the characters. You quickly know what they represent and what sides they take entering a conflict.
Your past is your past and your future is created in days, not chapters. Selecting your own values can be as simple as looking at a list of values and selecting the ones that speak to you.
From there, the work is yours but your guidebook contains bullet points to keep you going.
Importance of Core Values
Face it, whether you select them intentionally and try to live up to them, or if you hit the ground running and see where it takes you, you still end up with core values.
The things you care about will always be the things you care about. They guide you to do better and protect you from falling into trouble.
When things go well, you look to your core values and see them reflected in your success. When things go poorly, they help you assess and rebuild.
It’s one of the reasons that mindfulness and self-evaluation of values are used in cognitive-behavioral therapy. The push-pull of core values maintain your work-life balance and keeps you from spiraling out to either extreme.
Achieving (and Setting) Goals
Your personal core values don’t act in the place of goals. They guide your processes to achieve goals.
It’s important to know how to set your goals and to set goals that reflect your values.
The process is iterative. Each goal set reflects and refines your values. Each goal completed reinforces those values.
In turn, you track what does and doesn’t matter to you by what you are able to achieve. A foal that falls outside your actual value set, a goal that you only think you want, will always seem out of reach because you don’t care to get to it.
For some people, they want to be creative and they choose a creative outlet. Being creative is a common example of a core value. If you chose the goal of taking a photo a week for a year but fail to do so, it doesn’t mean you don’t value creativity, it only means you don’t value photography as much as you hoped.
Keep the value, change the medium of your pursuit. So it goes with all of the values you craft in life. Research into organizational management shows that values define your sense of belonging and alienation.
You work better with those that share your values and push yourself out of groups that don’t fit your values. All the pain and struggle that comes with trying to fit in is a manifestation of shoving the square peg of your value system into the round hole of a particular question.
Adopt Then Adapt
The key, then, isn’t to pick a value from the list that follows but to walk around with them for a bit and then adjust your expectations.
You can’t work on everything at once, a fact that leads to single-tasking in a multi-tasking world. Over focusing on one value leaves you unsatisfied and forces you to work from a mono-lens that narrows your perspective.
Let working on your values and the work that comes from your values intermingle. The sum of the parts tends to surprise you and open doors you couldn’t have budged with only one approach.
The most fulfilling life comes from a dynamic acceptance of your various drives. Even ones that seem contradictory find harmony if given a chance. The world isn’t so binary and neither are the expressions of your values.
List of Values for Growth
With all of that in mind, choose a few concepts from this list. Consider the possibilities in each word. Don’t settle for a definition 1 life. Go deeper and explore more about each value to see all the ways it interests you.
- Love Loyalty
- Social Connection
Pick a handful or so and consider what they mean to you. Sit with them for a while. Apply your own life experience to how each value both affected and could have affected your life.
Remove the ones that sound good but fail to resonate.
Once you have a half-dozen values remaining, you want to drill down further. These aren’t just things you like they are core values.
Start a daily exercise in which you contemplate a value. Think about what it means, write about it, sketch about, use it as the go-to response in the day. Do this for a week with each term.
Not only will you arrive at which values really are core to you, but you will also gain a lot of depth to what each value means in practice.
From there, it’s a snap to separate the values that drive you and the ones you aspire to. You want to grow to embody the value and to live up to your own expectations.
Avoid thinking that you’ve outgrown a value. It’s also easy to make maturity, or responsible thinking a primary concern in life. Real-life doesn’t measure you in adulting or childishness.
Don’t give up what brings you joy because it fails to meet someone else’s value system.
Build It, Live It
Don’t wait! Anything you do without a sense of urgency becomes something you still haven’t done in five years.
Get going on your core values now and they’ll be set and ready to help you sooner. Need more direction and some ideas on what to do with the goals and values you’re already set on? Get started designing your life today.