Designing a Life of Value
Our values identify what is important to us, what we believe in, how we want to live our lives. Our most important values—our core values—serve as a compass, driving our intentions and behaviors. When we uphold these values, we can live with self-confidence and pride, knowing that our positive decisions are supporting a purpose-driven life filled with meaning.
Identifying Your Core Values
Have you ever heard someone say she is taking time to “find herself”? This feeling of being lost can come from throwing away your own values or from living under someone else’s value system. People who live according to values imposed by family, friends, or society can end up feeling dissatisfied, unfulfilled, or even depressed.
Related Blog: How Core Values Can Guide Recovery
The values that define your life must be self-imposed as a means of supporting your own priorities and goals, providing a foundation of meaning or purpose. To determine your own core values, consider what makes you happy, what feeds your soul. These values can then serve as a measure to determine how your life is turning out.
When you are fully aware of your core values, you become more mindful of the values’ influence in your life and, as a result, more self-directed to live in alignment with these values.
Look through the list of values below, then write down about 10 values that are most important to you and your life. You may find that some values work together as one single value from your perspective; for example, maybe the values of leadership, status, and wealth all represent the value of success.
After you have created a list of about 10 values, narrow your list down to your top 3-5 values that drive your life or that you want to drive your life. These are your core values.
Note: I have organized these values by category to ease the process of reviewing a long list. These categories are based on my own views. While your perspective may dictate that a value belongs in a different category, the category is less important than your understanding of the value itself.
Aligning Your Life with Your Core Values
When you know your own core values, you can use them to make decisions about how to live your life and you can use them to answer questions about career choice, family planning, and living situations. If you value teamwork, don’t choose a job that leaves you alone in a cubicle all day with no interaction. If family is one of your core values, a job that requires a 2-hour commute along with weekend hours might not serve your goal of spending quality time with your family.
Upholding your values in life decisions lets you live with integrity, confidence, and satisfaction. If you start to feel unbalanced or unfulfilled in life, take time to re-evaluate your core values. Then determine what changes in behavior are necessary to realign your life with your value system.
As you move through various stages of life, your values may change as your priorities change. In your 20s, you might value professional success and financial gains. Perhaps your 30s usher in a new focus on family responsibilities. When you retire, you might value time and opportunity to travel with your spouse. As your core values change, be sure to realign your behaviors to support those values.
To translate your values into your intended changes in behavior, try sketching a chart like the one below to help clarify your goals.
To foster intentional behaviors and build a life that you love—a life of purpose and meaning, do something every single day that supports your core values.
Check out our video for information on how values can guide your way in addiction.
Written by Laura B. Demers, © 2020 Reclamation Sisters