Today you are going to elicit your deepest values. Your values are the principles that guide all of your behavior.
They operate in the background, but they are of immense importance.
Knowing what your values are will help you in the future to act congruently with them.
Incongruence with your values is the primary cause of what psychologists call cognitive dissonance. This is the discomfort that results when a person simultaneously holds conflicting beliefs, ideas, emotions, or values.
Having an understanding of your values also gives you a guide for how you should organize your life.
If one of your values is stability, you shouldn’t be a travel writer. If one of your values is adventure, being a travel writer is probably a better idea than an accountant.
This idea goes well beyond career choice, however.
Living congruently with your values involves literally everything that you do.
Every choice that you make, and every action that you take, can be in accordance with your values, or it can be incongruent with them.
When you regularly act counter to your values, your life veers off course, and you find yourself experiencing cognitive dissonance. This is why so many people experience mid-life crises.
You want to avoid that problem. But you want to do even better by not just avoiding cognitive dissonance, but to act in alignment with your values as much as possible such that you live a more fulfilling life.
The process of eliciting your values and even prioritizing them is very simple.
Despite being so simple, most people don’t take the little bit of time to do it, and they don’t get to take advantage of the many benefits knowing your values can provide.
First, ask yourself the question, “What do I want out of my life?” Write as many things down as you can think of.
After you have done this, distill each thing you have written into one word.
For example, “I want to have good relationships with friends and family” might be “socializing”.
Once you have a list, distill it down to the top 10-15 items.
If multiple values you have on your list are similar you can just make them one thing, if that makes it easier.
Steve Pavlina has a fairly extensive list of values here, but I will include a shorter list taken from the book NLP: The New Technology of Achievement here:
aliveness, autonomy, beauty, caring, challenge, courage, creativity, dignity, elegance, excellence, excitement, fairness, freedom, fulfillment, fun, grace, happiness, harmony, helping, honesty, humor, innovation, joy, justice, learning, love, making the world a better place, mastery, order, perseverance, playfulness, revolution, safety, security, self-reliance, service, simplicity, solving problems, stimulating change, synergy, truth, uniqueness, using my abilities, vitality, wisdom, zest.
Now that you have your personal list of 10-15 values, it’s time to prioritize them. This can actually be tough.
Look through your list and ask yourself which one value you would want fulfilled if no other one could be.
Then go through the rest of them and pick the one value out of the remaining ones and choose the one you would most want fulfilled. Keep going through them like this until they are in order.
You will probably have difficulty with a number of these.
That’s ok. Take your time going through them until you are reasonably satisfied with your list.
It doesn’t need to be perfect, and it will certainly change over time, so don’t worry about it! We will be using this list tomorrow, so keep it somewhere you can access it then.
Move on to Day 18: Write a Mission Statement.