Naming your personal core values is one thing, but understanding how they influence your life is quite another. Words have different meanings to different people. They may even have several meanings withing one person, depending on context or condition.
So to truly understand how my personal core values influence my life and my decisions, I’m going to investigate them one by one. This is the first step in my process to define new goals that are aligned with my values and ambitions.
Last time I wrote that Freedom is a very important and strong value for me. That’s still very true. Freedom is best defined for me like this:
the absence of restraints that hold me back or that violate my values
I usually choose to formulate postive formulation instead of negative ones, but I found that this definition most suits how I feel about this value. Working on this value is a process of identifying restraints, investigating them and finding ways to defuse them.
The central theme for this value at this moment in my life is the pursuit of freedom of activity. There are plenty of things I want to do – and a lot of them are rooted in one or more of my core values – but I simply haven’t found the freedom to do all of them yet. Time constraints, financial constraints, and mental constraints are the three aspects that have the most influence.
Although this is the latest addition to my value set (I used to have a set of only four core values), this is a very important one. So important even, that I took it for granted without even identifying it. Growth is at the core of everything I do.
Growth to me is:
the attitude to continuously try new things, the courage to fail and the peace of mind to learn from the failures. Growth is striving to become better than you are.
The central theme for Growth in my life is to find direction. The desire to grow is there, nothing to complain about that. It’s just that I have a tendency to start too many different paths to learn and grow. My challenge here is to focus my energy on a distinct set of growth areas.
Love is a complicated value and a really simple one at the same time. Sometimes I feel like I will never understand it, and yet I know when it tries to tell me something and usually I understand it too. Confusing and clarifying at the same time.
Even though all values are first and foremost felt from within, and definions are only attempts to put them in words, this is absolutely true for Love. How do you define love? The best I can come up with is:
The willingness to place emotional relationships above ambitions.
But this is only an approximation, hardly a definition set in stone.
As for the central theme here … it’s about balancing my family life and my ambitions. Actually, balance is not the right word … it’s about finding a way for them to enhance eachother.
Fun! I’m here to have lots of fun! Like I said before, it’s easy to let this one slip, especially if you try to fit in and are totally focused on ambitions and growth.
Fun for me is:
the ability to play and be playful. It’s about not taking life too seriously.
What about the central theme for this value? Well I thought about this one for quite some time. It’s too easy to just say that I need to put more fun in the stuff I do. So for this one I’m gonna turn it upside down, and say that I need to do something with the primary purpose of having fun doing it.
Outside pressure and influences are the factors to consider when evaluating this value. It takes a lot of guts to know who you are, and to be who you are in face of a society that wants you to be what they want you to be. And those two views are often contradictory; they are in my case.
Authenticity for me is:
the ability to know who you are and to act accordingly
The latter part is equally important as the first part – maybe even more important.
With respect to this value, the central theme in my life right now is to act upon what I know and feel about myself. To acknowledge things I know about myself, but are hesitant to admit (because they might be weird, or might contradict society’s expectations).
This is a long and detailed post, but an important one too. This is the foundation upon which I’m going to build my “house” of goals.
In this post I reviewed each personal core value by itself, but there’s an interdependence between them of course. The best activities are those that feed all values simultaneousely without becoming average.
The challenge is to build upon these values and find goals and guiding principles that enhance all my values.
In the next post I’ll be further investigating how these values translate into my personal mission statement and my guiding principles.