Tip 3: Align with Your True Personal Values

Personal values

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Note that this blog post is part of a series. You can access all tips at Strategies for Better Life Balance and Slow Living.

Do you live your life in accordance with your true personal values? Personal values are another aspect we want to be clear on in order to make informed decisions about how we spend our time and live our lives for the goals of better life balance and slow living.

Personal Values

Personal values are principles in life that are important to us. They reflect who we are and what we stand for. Values also serve as a compass, helping us to navigate through life. They give us a sense of direction, and influence our priorities, actions, behaviors, and decisions. They are the captain of our small but mighty boat out in the stormy, unpredictable sea of life.

For example, Debra Smouse wrote for Tiny Buddha about one of her top values, “Passion is a driving force in every area of my world. If I am not passionate about my life, my projects, and each and every client I work with, then I am of no service to others or myself.” Other examples of personal values include achievement, compassion, diversity, education, health, life balance, making a difference, power, and spirituality (see this exercise for a longer list).

When we are in tune with our true personal values, they help guide us to make the best choices for ourselves. As a result, we live our lives in alignment with our values, and we feel more balanced. On the other hand, if we have adopted society or someone else’s values (what we think we should value), we will most likely feel unbalanced, uneasy, and conflicted. We are lost.

Values and Life Roles

We express our values through the life roles that we play (see Tip 2 for a discussion of life roles), and often each value is reflected through multiple roles or areas. For example, I incorporate one of my top values—continuous learning—through work-related tasks, conversations with friends and family, and personal reading. I try to prioritize learning by making it a part of each week. When I go through a period of time that I have not engaged with this value, perhaps I have not made time to sit down and read, I feel slightly off as if something is missing. And conveniently, reading is also one of my “slow living moments” or activities that makes me feel as if life is slowing down.

Thinking About Your Values

For better life balance and slower living, it is imperative to be in touch with our distinctive set of personal values to help guide our lives and decisions. We also want to be able to define our values (the way one person defines and demonstrates “achievement” may be very different from another), identify our priority values, and understand how we prefer to express our values.

Action Step:

To identify your current set of personal values, go through this list and choose all items that are important to you. You may also add any missing values. Then respond to the following questions:

  1. Of the values you have checked off, which ones are most important to you at this point in your life? What are your top five priority values?
  2. How would you define each of your top five values? What does each mean to you? For example, if you have listed “life balance,” what does that feel like or look like? How will you know when you are experiencing life balance?
  3. How do you express your values? In what areas of your life do you incorporate your top five values? Areas of life and life roles might include work, a hobby, volunteer opportunities, the role of parent, the role of partner or spouse, and so on (also see Tip 2 for more ideas).
  4. How would you like to change the expression of your values? Are you currently not engaging one of your top values? Are there any new or different ways to incorporate your top values in your life?
  5. Do any of your top values seem to conflict with the goals of better life balance or slow living? How so?

Readers: What are your top personal values? Share in the comments below!

Be sure to join Women, Work, and Life’s Facebook page where we will further discuss strategies for better life balance and slow living, in addition to flexible work, returning to work, and career change. If you are not on Facebook, you can follow me on Twitter @EmilySeamone. Also, sign-up for my newsletter to keep on top of the blog series as well as other posts and information. I look forward to seeing you in all these places!

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