Value-Based Self Management – Part 1: Defining Your Values

Life is a never-ending series of demands upon your time and efforts. People often find themselves trying to juggle their career, family, physical fitness, education, and civic or religious activities. All of these take up your precious time and drain your limited energy. You can take control by choosing to respond to the demands that best meet your true needs. This requires an internal locus of control, which means you believe you have control over what happens to you. Of course, we are all subject to external forces that we cannot control, but much in your life is influenced by you.

So how do you identify your value system? For some, like me, this can be the hardest part. It takes mental effort and some clear thinking, but once established, your personal values define your life’s purpose and provide focus to your life. I suggest making (or finding) a list of values, then check off which values you personally espouse or values that you would be willing to dedicate significant time and energy to pursue. Many values will sound good to you, so make sure to be honest with yourself when choosing.

Shaping these values is a continual process and takes time. You want to focus on how a specific value can become a reality in your life by describing activities that align with that value. For example, if one of your core values is being healthy, some value-aligning activities include exercising regularly, avoiding harmful habits, or getting regular check-ups.

These activities can be written as goals. Goal setting is an important technique that helps focus your efforts. Your goals need to be SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. But most importantly they need to be value-anchored. And, in order for those goals to be reached, you need to have a plan. Stay tuned for the next post where I will discuss planning. In the meantime, start thinking about your personal values!

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