Have you ever been in a situation where something felt wrong, but you couldn't walk away from it? Something that was outside of your value system, but your belief in it to change for the better was stronger?
I know all too well that there is nothing harder to walk away from something you truly want, but which you realize isn't right or simply not right for you.
Values are like the mitochondria in a cell. They are our powerhouse. So, living a life where you keep compromising your values, is like a small flame that will eventually burst into a fire, and you'll be the first one to get burned.
Here is a list of five reasons why knowing and sticking to your values is so important:
1. They help you regain self-respect
Say goodbye to any pimp of your emotions and get your self-respect back. Nothing is a better consultant than your own personal values for this.
If punctuality is important to you then communicate this to the other person. If you feel underappreciated or neglected, then speak up. We will always only get what we believe we deserve. Do you think you deserve having to wait around and waste your time because someone cannot be on time?
Think about it, if you do not respect yourself, how and why should anyone else do it? It's that simple. If you are unhappy with yourself, then this is oftentimes directly reflected onto others around us. So, communicating your values will not only give you your self-respect back, it will also improve your relationships and overall happiness.
If you want to be respected by others, the great thing is to respect yourself. Only by that, only by self-respect will you compel others to respect you.
~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky
2. They help you be clear about what you want
Your personal values play an important role in your personal life, but especially in your job search and career decision making.
One great career counseling tool for identifying personal (work) values is a simple, yet powerful, values inventory card sort. It helps sorting out our top most important values, for example, recognition, achievement, independence, support, working conditions, justice etc., as well as the ones that are of least importance to us.
This is a great tool for identifying companies or industries that we would like to work for or relationships that we'd like to be part of.
The crucial point is that we need to KNOW the values that are of great importance to us first and then avoid compromising them in any way. Again, they are our powerhouse, our window swipes that clear our sight when it pours, and our air pump when we have a flat tire.
If you don't know what your values are, then you will have a hard time figuring out what it is that you are actually looking for to be satisfied and happy at work or in a relationship. And if you don't know what you want, then you most likely won't know when you have it.
3. They help you in making decisions
Being born in the 1980s and therefore part of the so called "Generation Y," a generation seen as being 'blessed' with many opportunities and possibilities, making a decision seems to be more difficult than ever.
There is such an oversaturated market of dating platforms and job boards that it seems like we have all the choices in the world, but at the same time it feels like we have 'forgotten' how to actually make a decision. There are always alternatives and other great opportunities, and that's exactly when knowing your values comes into play again -- big time!
For example, take a relationship where one partner wants to have a family and the other one doesn't. In that case, each partner has a decision to make: do they want to or CAN they compromise on having/not having their own family?
The same goes for your workplace: when you have reached your ability to grow in the company you work for, what do you do? Do you stay and live with it or do you start looking for a new challenge to further develop?
Here is why realizing and identifying our values becomes of great importance again: only when we know them, we will be able to communicate them clearly and decide to change and move on if they aren't met.
As Alice Waters said:
"The decisions you make are a choice of values that reflect your life in every way."
4. They help you enjoy your (work) life
Values drive our behavior. They are ethical goal statements and learned at an early age, and we usually share our values within our families and culture. Some values can change over time, but our core values stay.
Your personal values are directly connected with your deliberative conscience. So when something or someone makes you behave or act against your values, then your conscience will raise an objection until it cannot be ignored anymore.
Remind yourself that it simply isn't enough to keep hanging on to a job or relationship because of its potential that you can see of it. That's like buying a new stereo system and you realize that it doesn't have a good sound but you keep it because you think it has the potential to have a great sound.
There is quite a lot of research out there showing a positive correlation between our values and job satisfaction. So, when you find a common denominator in your value system with you and your partner or employer, then chances are that you will feel a lot of fulfillment in your relationship or at work. If you haven't found this yet, then please don't stop looking.
"There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do."- Freya Stark
5. They keep you focused and motivated
If you work in a company where you don't like the product or their mission, then tell me, how authentic and powerful can your message, impact, productivity, or work be?
Like I mentioned before, living in accordance with our values keep us motivated and happy in all areas in our lives. That's why volunteering for a cause or service we strongly believe in doesn't feel like work or a waste of time.
Furthermore, we do not need to get paid to participate and support them even on weekends or holidays, because working for a cause we truly value and believe in is the energy plug we need the most to be happy and motivated in the long run.
Something money surely cannot buy.
"When you achieve complete congruence between your values and your goals, like a hand in a glove, you feel strong, happy, healthy, and fully integrated as a person. You develop a kind of courage that makes you completely unafraid to make decisions and take action. Your whole life improves when you begin living your life by the values that you most admire."
- Brian Tracy