Most of us have probably listened to a podcast or read a book that suggests you define your life's values. But what exactly does that mean? And what exactly is the point?
The dictionary defines a value as "a person's principles or standards of behavior; one's judgment of what is important in life." I've also seen a life value defined as "things that you believe are important in the way you live and work. They (should) determine your priorities, and, deep down, they're probably the measures you use to tell if your life is turning out the way you want it to."
From those two definitions, it's clear that our values define our life. Our values show what social issues we are most concerned with, what we believe is important in this world, even what career path we choose. Whether we realize it or not, our values are deeply ingrained into who we are. We should clearly define them and allow them to inform our habits because if we're not careful, we will find ourselves living a life opposite of who we are. We may have the best intentions, but our habits determine where we end up.
It's funny how easy it is to let life happen, to let it slip by without another thought. It's amazing how easily bad habits set in without us noticing. I think this happens when we aren't being an active participant in our lives.
I've been feeling like I need to be sure my habits align with my values. As of late, they have not. For example, one of my values is exploration. I believe in experiencing different cultures and places; in seeing the world and how others live in it. This means that in order to afford to travel, I have to pay attention to my budget and where I'm spending my money. Over the last few months, I've let myself fall out of this habit.
It's never fun forming new habits or changing your mindset to be more self-aware. It's difficult, and tedious, and honestly just not much fun. But you know what is fun? Travel. Volunteering. Taking a friend out to dinner. That requires you to make good use of your finances, time, and resources.
If you've never defined your values, I encourage you to. If you don't know where to start, here are a few articles from Huffington Post and Darling Magazine that can help you get started. Once you've defined your values clearly, take a look at your daily habits. Do they align with your values? If not, what can you change today to close the gap between the two?
I keep all of my personality tests and value statements, anything that helps to define who I am, in a 3-ring binder on my desk that I can reference quickly and often. I suggest you do something similar that works for you. Post reminders all around your house, make it visible so that throughout your day you are reminded of your values, intentions, and goals.
We've only got one life. Let's live it well, shall we?