Do you feel lost in life? Do you feel like you don’t know yourself anymore? These may be signals that you are not acting in accordance with your values. Exploring your values, identifying and prioritizing them, and then using them as a compass to guide your choices and decision-making can strengthen your identity and provide you with a sense of direction in life.
What are values?
- Values express our desire for how we want to interact with the world, other people and ourselves. Some examples of values include: love, tradition, self-exploration, openness to change, family, justice, compassion.
- Values look different for everyone. Your personal values may not be the same as others’; including your family’s or loved ones’. They are freely chosen and do not need to be justified.
- Values change. They may look different across your lifespan and they can change due to our experiences.
- Values are like a compass, they guide us in our choices and decision-making, yet we won’t always follow the direction they are pointing us in.
- Values are not the same as goals. Values are about how you want to behave or act on an ongoing basis; they are based in the here and now. Goals are something you want to achieve; they can be easily measured and tend to be future-oriented.
How do you know if you act against your values? You may feel a sense of discord, feel like your life has no sense of direction or meaning, or feel like you lack a strong sense of self-identity.
If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to begin the process of exploring your values. Knowing your values and acting in accordance with your values help build a strong sense of self and help build a life worth living.