Many things get in the way of us understanding or living by our personal values. It takes confidence to live according to your own values, when those around you may think you should live another way. And, unfortunately, people tend to like getting into other people’s lives and telling them how they should live… parents, friends, family, children, partners, siblings, co-workers, politics, the list goes on.
With all that you hear on a daily basis about how someone or something thinks you should live, or what your values should be, it can be hard to know what your values actually are. It can also be hard to remember that it is okay, and actually healthy, to live according to your own values versus what someone else thinks or taught you along the way. I believe values can change over time, people change, and continual self-reflection is important to understand whether you are living within your value system. If not, you may increase your risk for emotional distress, physical symptoms related to stress, unhappiness, depression, and not meeting your goals or your potential.
Take some time to understand your personal values…
Rate each of these areas (1-10) on a piece of paper, according to how important these things are in your life, ideally. Next, go back and rate (1-10) each area according to how you have lived within that value system in the past two weeks. It can help to provide a better visual by writing out each value with 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 next to each – circle your ideal value – and put a square around where you actually fall – this will show you more visually how big any discrepancies are…
- Family (other than marriage and parenting)
- Marriage/Couples/Intimate Relationships
- Friends/Social Life
- Citizenship/Community Life
- Physical self-care (diet, exercise, sleep, etc.)
Where you see the biggest discrepancies are the areas you will want to focus on further evaluating. Consider writing down what you are doing to live within that value now, and what you would be doing if you were living up to your standard of that value.
Example: Some people identify their romantic relationship as a 10 – of utmost importance in value, but when they think of how they have acted according to that value in the past 2 weeks, they realize they are at a 3 – no date nights, too busy with work, haven’t seen each other much, not going to bed at the same time, out with friends more, too much time at the gym, etc. This person may decide they want to live more according to their ideal of this value and start by going to bed at the same time as their partner each night.
Example: Some people identify physical self-care as a 10, but realize they are living more at a 3 – not getting to the gym, not prepping foods so eating out, staying up too late, using too much alcohol, smoking, etc.
- Or, people value physical health at a 10 and live it at a 10, but other important values are pushed to the side and the person is still unhappy.
Understanding which values are most important to you, and which are less important, can help you achieve better balance in life. Take some energy away from something that is lived at a 10, if it would help you improve another highly important value (without also compromising that value). Look at those ideal values that fall at an 8 or higher, and create personal goals based on these to improve the way you live within each.
Living according to all of your important values, not just focusing on one and letting others go, will likely increase overall happiness and contentment, improve overall wellbeing, make life feel easier and more fulfilling, improve your relationships with others, and improve your overall performance and efficacy in life.
If you find yourself continually sad, down, and unsure of why – take a look at whether you are living according to your values in these areas. Sometimes reducing that gap between your ideal value and how you actually live within that value provides incredible results toward overall happiness and wellbeing.
Striving for this type of balance (which ebbs and flows!) will be incredibly helpful in assisting you to achieve those short- and long-term goals, regarding weight loss or otherwise.
Related post… Be assertive.