Unless you’ve taken some time to uncover and define your values, it’s almost impossible to know.
Here’s a five-minute activity that will get you 80% of the way there (and a slightly longer one to take you the rest of the way if you want…):
What’s important to you? Make a list of stuff you value – love, respect, creativity, laughter, family, etc… Don’t worry if it seems unrefined. Take about 2 minutes to do this and write down everything that comes to mind.
Now try looking at the other side. What are your “energy drains”? You might think of them as “vices” or perhaps “anti-values”, but the main thing is to identify what you DON’T like. What is the direction you do NOT want to go? Make a list of those things too. Take another 2 minutes.
Okay, it’s time to narrow it down. Put a star beside your top five values and top five energy drains. Which values are most important to you? Feel free to combine multiple ideas into one if you think they fit together. You can always change it later, but do this in under a minute. Go with your gut.
Voila! In 5 minutes, you’ve done a first draft of your top 5 values and anti-values – your energy boosters and energy drains. You’re 80% of the way there. But it gets even better!
So, we have two things to do now: First, get even clearer about our values, and second, check our current path to see if we are actually doing what we say is important!
These might take a bit longer than 5 minutes, but it’s worth doing.
So let’s get specific: For each of your top 5 values, write a short description of what that value means to you. As an example, one of my values is laughter. When asked to define it, I said: “Sharing laughter often with the people I care about – my family, friends, and community.”
Words mean different things to different people, so without defining your values, you won’t have a clear direction on your compass. Not only will this prevent you from going in the right direction, but it will prevent you from knowing (and celebrating) when you ARE going in the right direction!
I actually learned this from my pal Drew Dudley, an amazing speaker and leadership expert, and he said it very well: “We must define the words that we wish to define us.”
By clarifying what we mean by each of our values, we give ourselves a clearer direction to follow, and we open the door to our own version of success!
Re-write your values and the definitions on a separate page, and post them somewhere you can see them. For the next few days, re-read them at least twice a day, and let your brain ponder on anything that comes up.
Give yourself a high-five! Building awareness of your values is a major step in creating the life you want to live!