What are values and how can I act on them?

Values are freely chosen, are appetitive, are naturally rewarding, tell us about our interests and desires, can not be taken away, are not imposed on us, create a willingness to do hard things.

If we don’t use our values as a compass, there is a high chance of feeling empty, unhappy, having an identity crisis, and not feeling worthy about ourselves. We come to the realization that we have been living our life based upon the values of others. 

Living my life in line with my values will help me live an intentional life. It will give fulfillment, meaning, and direction to my life. Becoming aware of what my values are is the first step. 

What are my values? How can I get in touch with my values? Here are some questions to help you think about your values. 

  • What would you want someone to say at your funeral?
  • What are your top 3 peak life moments?
  • What are your 3 most painful life moments? What does the pain tell you about what really matters? What do you truly care about?
  • What important areas of life have you given up or missed out on?
  • What do you disapprove of the actions of others? How would you act differently in that same situation?
  • What do you stand for?
  • Who do you look up to? Who inspires you? What do you admire about them?
  • What personal qualities do you already have and which new ones would you like to develop?

How can I start acting on what really matters to me in life (acting on my values)?

  • What is the smallest, simplest, easiest action/step you could take, in line with that value?
  • What are larger actions/steps you could take?
  • If that particular action is not possible, what else could you do that would still be living this value?
  • What are short, medium, and long term goals in line with this value?

Written By:
Flo Westerndorp
Clinical Psychologist
SACAC Counselling

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