After reconnecting with the writing of some of my favourite authors, I’ve started to think more about my values and how I can specifically act on them so they are more present in my life.
Your values are not about what you want to obtain (i.e. success, wealth, ‘stuff’ etc.), they are about how you want to act on an ongoing basis; how you want to treat yourself, others and the world around you. They are not an ultimate goal to be completed but are rather a limitless process, which could involve such actions as awareness, acceptance, appreciation, exploration, connection, creation, cultivation, contribution, compassion, dedication, self-determination etc.
That is not to say that setting progressive goals cannot help with the practise of our ongoing values, as they can help us to plan-out our intended actions in more specific and developmental ways. In fact, basing our goals on our values provides a deep and positive motivation that helps us to sustain the practise of new skills that will inevitably make our life better.
It is firstly important to clarify the values that are most important to you. One way to do this is by asking yourself how you would behave differently in your life if you had unlimited confidence and happiness. You might also want to think about the different aspects of your life (i.e. your health and personal growth, your relationships, your leisure, and your work and/or education), and ask yourself what it is you value in these areas and want to focus on and grow. Then, you can generate some ideas on how you can specifically act on this value. It could be anything from starting a manageable strength training routine or meditation practise, exploring more nature reserves on your time off, getting a qualification to help you advance in your career, or eating more dinners with your family at the table.
It’s often important to be specific in our intended actions, which is where setting goals can really help. Knowing when a goal is too big and therefore just not realistic, or if we’re actually giving ourselves reasons not to follow through on it, is also an important distinction. You may have to readjust your goal so its more manageable (i.e. strength training twice/ week instead of everyday?) or make more room for difficult thoughts and feelings when trying to practise a new skill.
Finally, social support and encouragement can also be a great motivational tool, and seeing our progress once we have started to act on our values, no matter how small, can be the perfect reward when trying to actively better ourselves.
Want to learn more? Book an appointment with one of our psychologists or visit our clinic and wellbeing store in Bulimba.