When thinking about your life, who do you identify with most:
A. the person in the driver’s seat calling all the shots–you know where you’re going and how to get there;
B. a backseat driver—you also know where you want to go but instead of driving yourself, you instruct others how best to get you there, whether they want you to or not; or
C. a passenger along for the ride, wherever it may take you
Here’s the important bit—after you make your choice, how did you feel about yourself? Do you feel positive, content, happy, and fulfilled with how you are conducting your life or dissatisfied, frustrated, disappointed and lost? If your automatic response was the latter, then perhaps it’s time to examine whether you are living your life according to your values.
Values are the driving principles of your life. Or they should be. We can go through our whole life without consciously thinking about what we value and how this can guide us in our choices, decisions and behaviours.
Have you ever thought about where your values come from? Why are certain things more important to you than others? These are vital questions to ask yourself if you want to lead a value-driven life. Why would you want to do this? Simple…so that your life has meaning, purpose, direction. You’re not driving blind, making unreasonable demands, or being a passive passenger in your own life.
First, identify the top three values that are currently influencing the way you live your life the most from the following list:
Did you find it difficult to narrow down to just three? Just think about your recent decisions and then rank your values for each decision. For example:
You joined a gym—is the main goal beauty or health?
You studied hard for an exam—do you do this to pursue achievement or security?
You fundraise for the homeless—is that serving your value for equality, kindness, community, leadership or fairness. Which value is it serving the most?
Still finding it hard? Ask yourself which are the primary values motivating your decisions across a range of situations and contexts in your life. It can also help to ask someone close to you what they think you value most.
Now, pick out the three values that you want to be the primary driving principles in your life. What kind of person do you aspire to be?
Then compare your current values with your aspirational ones. Are the two lists the same or different? Are you happy with how you are going about your life or do you want to make changes?
Here’s how to get started. First, pick out one value you want to focus on. Then think about what you could do over the next week or month to make this value more prominent in your life. For instance, if you choose community then you could join a local organisation or plan a fundraiser, or if you choose courage, then you could be more aware of when you feel anxious and focus on facing your fears rather than avoiding them.
Remember, it’s fine to be the driver, the backseat driver or the passenger (we’re all these people at least some of the time), but not if we do this with little to no self-awareness.
Know your values, know yourself. Might be time for a roadtrip!