How many of us have ever taken the time, or the trouble, to clearly define our personal, core values – those that shape and influence our day-to-day thoughts, feelings, choices and behaviours, and therefore our lives as a whole?
Not many, I would think. It isn’t something that people typically do without specific prompts or reasons. And yet most of us would agree that our values, or value systems, ultimately determine how we live our lives, who we become, and the impact we have on other peoples’ lives.
Shouldn’t we, therefore, be paying greater attention to our values – defining, refining, and revising them as our life journeys unfold? And if we decide to do so, how should we go about it?
The natural place to start is to be clear about what we mean by ‘values’. There are as many takes on the meaning of values as there are different worldviews in society, but I love this quote by Mahatma Gandhi, because it puts it both simply and profoundly:
“Your beliefs become your thoughts;
Your thoughts become your words;
Your words become your actions;
Your actions become your habits;
Your habits become your values;
Your values become your destiny.”
So how do we define our personal values?
There is no single answer to this question. Amongst many tools offered by experts across the world is the Demartini Value Determination process by human behavioural specialist, Dr John Demartini. It is presented as a multi-step process where you answer a series of questions and refine your answers until your hierarchy of needs emerges with growing clarity. My experience of the tool is that it helps you to pause and take a close and critical look at how you are living your life, and it shows you how far or how close you are from your best or ideal life.
So the values are defined, what then?
Well, what follows next isn’t as easy as all that, and that is LIVING YOUR VALUES. Altering your life to get it to be in sync with your core values, your true self. Adjusting it to whatever extent may be necessary, even a complete transformation, to align to your values.
And how that can be achieved is a topic for another day.