In 2015 I tentatively started my personal development journey. I didn’t know at the time that that’s what it would be be. I started to invest time and energy into knowing myself better and learning to love myself. One of the main things I did in 2015, which has had a bearing on my life ever since, was defining my personal values.
Defining my Personal Values
I spent a few hours sat on my bed with a mess of words surrounding me. In learning more about myself since that moment – I’ve come to realise that I LOVE to collect words.
Here’s how I did it:
- I started off with a big list of values. I printed the list and read each word in turn, adding a star beside the ones that had meaning to me.
- Something I found helpful when I was working through the list was thinking about the opposites for the words to see how I felt about them. This often helped me find values I felt more strongly about.
- From that big list I ended up starring approximately 35 words.
- Next up I listed all of those words onto slips of paper.
- I found that many of the words I had picked were similar to each other. So I put them into groups.
- Then I tried to prioritise what I had left and come up with my top values.
- Eventually I whittled my list of values down to 5.
These values have stuck with me. I guess there’s the possibility they may change in the future and I will review them often to see if they still resonate when compared to other choices.
My Personal Values
Here’s what I came up with:
It made me ridiculously happy that when arranged that way they spell out “BUILD”. I like to see it as using my values to BUILD a good life!
Now the interesting thing about these words is they could mean something completely different to you than they do to me.
The Meaning Behind my Personal Values
BALANCE to me is a reminder to myself that life and nature tend to balance themselves out. I need sad times to make the happy times even happier, I need to be healthy and allow myself small treats, I need to re-centre and find my balance when life changes, I need to look at things from many angles to get a balanced view.
UNDERSTANDING has a couple of meanings for me and is a combination of quite a few words I first collected. I see it as both empathy and learning.
INTEGRITY is about listening to my intuition and doing what I believe to be right. Trying to make decisions based on my values is an example of integrity.
LOVE… If I had to pick just one value to live by I would pick Love. To me, Love encompasses everything in life and how I want to approach it. I want to love myself, invest love in my family and friends, love what I do, let love be stronger than fear or hate… But I’m glad I have those other 4 words to snuggle beside it and give some more breadth to my values.
DILIGENCE, for me, is about doing my best as much as I can. It’s about improvement and hard work and putting the effort in.
When I was struggling to narrow my values down from a longer list these were the 5 that I could confidently say that I had used in my life and that I would be happy to live by going forward. They felt like they belonged to me.
How do I use my values in daily life?
- For a long time after first defining my personal values I had them written down and displayed on a mirror in my bedroom. Each time I passed I could see them. While they were still fresh and new this was a great way to regularly remind myself what my values were.
- I did some deeper work further defining my personal values once I knew what they were. (See the images beside each value above). I listed what each one meant to me, characteristics, examples of how I could live that value and what would be in opposition to it.
- When I set myself goals or am trying to make big decisions I weigh what I’m doing against my values. The thing I’m assessing doesn’t have to fulfil all 5 values but it has to feel right with at least a couple of them.
- When I’m feeling out of sorts or I find myself procrastinating I revisit my values and try to work out what’s going on. I often find myself putting something off when I can’t see how it fits with my values. Sometimes that means letting that thing go and other times it means working out how it fits in with my values so I can move forward.
- Choosing to live by my values is one of the ways I Find the Good Everyday.
The process did take time and energy but I found it so worthwhile. It was a worthy investment for sure and has helped me so much with life decisions (big and small) since I did the work of defining my personal values.
Do you have a list of personal values you live by? I’d love to hear more about how you came by them, what they mean to you and how they influence your decisions. Please leave a comment or get in touch.