Personal Values Development
What Really Drives You In Life?
Personal values development is the most important step in setting goals.
Merely acquiring the symbols of success – more cash, a nice house, a fast car or some nice bling – will not make you happier in the long term. At best these will form pleasant, short-term distractions. Unconvinced? Look at any number of burned-out celebrities & high-flying executives – or at any material goals you have set and reached in the past - to see this as a self-evident truth.
Only a very unconscious being would gain long-term happiness from purely material acquisitions – and if you’re here, I very much doubt this is you.
"To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation”
Paolo Coelho, The Alchemist
You must be sure to identify your values – to understand what drives you more than anything else in life – before you set your goals. When you live your values, life becomes fun and meaningful again. Instilling a sense of purpose into your life is the single most important step you can take on your path to success and happiness.
This article will demonstrate how to identify and develop your own personal values. Please grab a pen and pad before you read on – you need to participate in this.
Note - if you aren’t in a position to sit undisturbed now for 20 minutes or so, and to really think quite deeply, feel free to print off this page for later. Please don’t skip this stage though – you need these answers before you move on.
How Do I Identify My Personal Values?
The first stage in personal values development is to take a few minutes to ponder and answer the question:
What would I do if I knew the world was going to end one week from today?
Don’t rush – write down everything that comes to mind. Don’t sell yourself short either. Jot down EVERYTHING and ANYTHING that pops in the old brain. If you ignore anything your brain passes you, you will only be cheating yourself.
Make a particular effort to note down the big dreams – the ones where your instinctive reaction is to think “Don’t be silly – I could never do that”. Try to ignore your concerns for the moment – we will address them later - just be sure to write down every answer you get for now. Listen to your “inner wisdom” – the part of you that thinks big – it is genuinely worth listening to!
Finished? Good! You’ll probably be feeling a little bit excited now – it’s great for the soul to think like this. There are more of these good feelings to come with personal values development - we just need to delve a little bit more.
Personal Values Development -
Going a Little Deeper
The next step in your personal values development is to ponder a few more rather soul-searching questions. I have borrowed these almost directly from Dr James Loehr’s book The Power of Full Engagement – as reproduced in Paul McKenna’s brilliant Change Your Life in 7 Days - as they were so effective for me that I didn’t feel the need to alter them much at all. I hope they don’t mind....!
As before, jot down EVERY answer that pops in your head. It’s probably useful to use a different sheet of paper for each answer, to help keep your thinking fresh. Grab a brightly coloured marker now too – it’s for question 3. Aim to spend a good few minutes on every question – and don’t rush yourself – take as long as you need.
Ready to delve a little deeper...?!
1. Jump ahead to the end of your life. What are the three most important lessons you have learned and why are they so critical?
2. Think of someone you deeply respect. Describe three qualities in this person that you most admire.
3. Who are you at your best? Jot down 15-20 of your most desirable traits. Note them down BIG and BOLD, in a bright colour, and pour your energy and enthusiasm into the page. Make it really jump out at you – these are the characteristics of your “true self”! Definitely use a new page for this answer – you’ll want to refer back to this. Make the page as wild and wacky and bold as suits the best aspects of your personality. Don’t hold back – it’s just for you to see. Be generous to yourself!
4. To finish, answer this deep and somewhat sobering one: What one-sentence inscription would you like to see on your tombstone that would capture who you really were in your life?
All done? ... Congratulations! You’re probably bloody exhausted by now. Answering these questions can really take it out of you – in a good way - but it’s definitely worth it. We’re nearly finished now - just a few minutes away from completing your personal values development.
Write Down Your Personal Values
All you have to do now is make a list of the answers that spoke to you at the deepest level. Which of your answers really affected you – really raised your heart rate – and which of them truly got you in the gut? What are the recurring themes? Which answers are really you – your true self? Don’t hold back – trust your instincts here.
Note – reduce your answers as far as possible to identify your key values. For example, if you’re left with “I want to be rich”, factor that down and identify its true purpose – such as, I want to be secure and be able to see the world, or, I want to be able to help others. Money or material goods are rarely key values – don’t sell yourself short here.
We’re very nearly there... Finally, choose between 3 and 7 of your key values and jot them down on a new sheet of paper. Make sure these are the values that truly define you – the values that you can’t imagine living without. These must be the values that truly speak to you at the deepest level! If you’re having trouble, read through your entire list slowly – your true values will register and jump out when you go over them.
Remember, write down 3-7 of these on a new sheet of paper – make them big and bold and bright. Take real pleasure in jotting these down!
Guess what – you have found your key values... You now know what drives you in life! I hope you can see that simply by living your values, your life can change forever. To quote Paul McKenna, “If you do nothing else but live your values every single day, you cannot imagine how fulfilling your life will become!”
You’re finished here now and have taken part in your personal values development. You have just taken a seriously large step on your personal development journey – bloody brilliant news! You can now say with confidence exactly what drives you in life, and what values you will remain true to on your journey. Pretty exciting and liberating ay?
Please take a break now – do something unrelated for a few minutes - and when you’re ready, come back to my
goal setting activity
to set specific goals that incorporate your key personal values.
Thanks, and good luck!
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