Is there any source of stress in your life that flies under the radar? You can’t really identify why you feel out of sorts, and you seem to have an unsettling feeling as you navigate through your daily activities. What could be causing this? It could be that your stress is caused by your life being out of alignment. So what does that mean?
Everyone has a core set of personal values that shape their priorities, reactions and goals. Values are the reference points you use to formulate your attitudes, opinions and decisions. Your kids may be the most important aspect of your life. Or you may be passionate about equality in the world. Your core values inspire your motivation and give you a sense of direction.
If you find yourself striving to fulfill other people’s core values rather than your own, you develop a source of stress. The uncomfortable feeling of this lack of alignment with your own core values can become more stressful the longer you are in this situation. Humans are at their best emotional and psychological health when their behavior is aligned with their own core values.
When your thoughts and actions do not match with your values, there is a sense of disconnect and unrest. This source of stress becomes more intensified over time. Not embracing your core values as part of your life and work is a major reason why you realize that you lack passion for your work.
Identifying which values are the most important to you allows you to keep your stress level low and your self-esteem level high. Your life can become more productive and less stressful when you embrace your personal values as your life-compass. Attention to your values helps you become more self-aware.
So, how do we determine what our core values are? I would start by completing the following exercise.
1. Create a written list of 20 values that matter most to you and a written list of 20 values that matter least.
2. Set aside the 2 lists alone for one day.
3. Come back to the 2 lists and review what words you have listed and see if you have any changes.
4. Select the top 10 values that you have listed for each of the two lists from 1-20 in order of importance. You have now cut the 2 lists in half.
5. Review your 10 values for both the list of What Matters Most and What Matters Least
6. Select the 5 values from each of the two lists that you feel are the most important 5 values.
7. You now have 5 core values that are most important in your life and 5 values that you think are least important in your life.
Over the next several weeks, refer to these values as you assume your daily activities. Are you living a life that supports your core values or have you found you are following a lifestyle that is out of alignment? Being out of alignment from your core values is a source of stress that causes many people to be unhappy and unfulfilled. A personal check-in with your core values is a great way to get back in synch with who you are and where you want to be headed.