If you don’t do anything else in 2016 with regards to ensuring that you are on track to enjoy a really happy, fulfilled and successful year, then the exercise in this month’s edition is the one that I guarantee that you will find beneficial to complete.
Often overlooked, working out your values and ascertaining whether they are actually present in your life can swiftly highlight which areas are on track and also help to explain why e.g. you are not feeling as fulfilled in your work as you once did.
One of the main reasons that people leave companies is not just leadership (it is said that people join an organisation but leave their boss!) but also the culture of the organisation. The culture and everything about a company is determined by its values – and of course the values of its entire staff, whether these attributes are shared or not.
You will unconsciously or consciously pick who you shop with because you sense that their Values reflect yours. Sometimes you will choose to give business to those companies whose values you wish to embody too. In addition, decisions will be made to move on from a personal relationship, friend or even a family member because ultimately their values do not match your own. It is not always obvious what someone’s (or an organisation’s) values are… until it is too late! I comprehend this from years of working with clients and from my own experience.
However, by first gaining clarity on your own values, then by actively focusing on where they show up in your life, you will find that you intuitively begin to make course corrections both at work and at home. This process becomes much easier and swifter when you know your own values. As a result of clear boundaries and not allowing your values to be consistently compromised, your daily happiness and fulfilment will rise.
So how do you work out your own values? You may think you know what they are already. For example, core values such as honesty, reliability are more likely to remain constant throughout your life; however you may also have values which you are not as aware of, or ones that are more important to you at this particular stage of your evolution.
Here is a quick exercise to help: all you need is some time to answer the questions, your intuition and a pen and paper.
Think back over the last five years. Write down in bullet points the different experiences/activities where you have experienced joy. These are the ones where you were totally absorbed, in the zone and felt at peace and happy. Write down at least five. Ten or more is ideal.
What was it about these experiences / activities that make them stand out for you? Which skills were you deploying? Write these down.
E.g. Writing – creativity, communication
Dancing – fun, learning, social, challenge
Travel to somewhere new – adventure, fun, learning, friendship, love
Family celebration – love, fun, family, humour, harmony (yes really!)
Next, review your list. What themes emerge? What connections do you make?
Your values will become obvious when the same words feature repeatedly in the experiences. In my basic example above, these are the values of fun, love and learning.
This information can now be applied: think about the different areas of your life as it is now e.g. family, relationship, work, social, hobbies and reflect how each of your values is being met in each area.
For example: Work – Creativity value: met from having own ideas, design, product development, team members are creative.
Doing this will highlight both those that are being demonstrated and also any values that are currently not present in any or all areas of your life. These gaps will be contributing to a feeling of lack of fulfilment and satisfaction. What action can you take to integrate this value? This may mean a small tweak or of course, it may imply a much bigger change e.g. if Creativity was not present, this may prompt moving to another organisation.
“Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave them all over everything that you do.” – Elvis Presley