Success Steps
Clarifying Personal Values

Healing Waterfall

Clarifying personal values is fundamental to the art of success. Values are the all important “bottom lines” or underlying principles that guide our thoughts, behavior, and direction in life.

When our values are clear, our decisions are easy and our actions are in-sync with our desired outcome.

Often, however, we only have a vague idea of what values we have. This is because most of our values operate on an unconscious level. These are often values that were created during childhood and have simply become an unconscious, automatic rule that we live by. To further complicate matters, we often adopt other people's standards and values during childhood, instead of creating our own.

Clarifying personal values is an effective strategy for eliminating self-sabotage in our pursuit of happiness. It’s important to bring these values to a conscious level and examine our level of clarity about them.

Lack of clarity about our values can cause several problems that impede our success.

  • It leaves us without true direction.
  • We may be practicing values that are not our own.
  • We may be tripping ourselves up due to incongruity within our own values.
  • Our conscious actions may not be aligned with our internal values.
  • Lack of clarity about values can create indecision, confusion, stagnancy, and the inability to move forward with decisive action.

When we aren’t conscious of our bottom lines we become more vulnerable to “going along with” the standards and expectations of others in our relationships, our workplace, and in the larger world around us. Without clearly defining our values we cannot clearly define our boundaries, and without clearly defining our boundaries we allow our lives to be externally driven by other people’s standards and expectations.

And when the standards and expectations of others differ from our own values, the incongruity creates internal conflict in our lives that expresses itself as stress, fatigue, depression, and apathy.

Simply naming our values is not enough. Clarifying personal values means pinning down what each one means to us personally, because values are relatively broad terms that mean different things to different people.

For one person “helping others” may provide a sense of personal satisfaction and pride. For another person it may provide a level of status that is important to them in their community and among their peers. And for yet another person it may be important because it makes them feel useful or because it provides ongoing challenge in their life.

A second step in clarifying personal values is to determine which ones top your list and are therefore most important to you. Many times we find our own values seem to “compete” with each other and can hold us back rather than move us forward. Ask yourself which one is most important in relation to resolving your conflict.

Effectively defining our values can eliminate self-sabotage and put you back on the road to success.

For more help, try the Values Clarification Process worksheet.

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