Why Are Values Important?
What do you value? It’s a big scary question. If you don’t have an answer on the tip of your tongue, it can leave you stumbling for words.
Us coaches love to talk about values. In fact, when we meet you, the question “what are your values” might be one of the first things that leaves our lips.
But… why? Why are values important? Let me explain…
Why are values important?
Values create an internal compass for you to follow
Values are important because they provide you with clarity and purpose. When you don’t know what to do, are dithering on a difficult decision or simply feeling a little lost, your values can offer you direction.
Checking in with your values allows you to check in with what’s important to you. You can then use that information to guide you forward, much like an internal compass.
Values show you who you are
Yikes. What a scary statement! Scary though it might be, it’s also very true.
Your values are at the very centre of who you are, they’re the very fibre of what you stand on. They’re the things that are important to you.
When something doesn’t sit right and you get that “icky” feeling in the bottom of your stomach? That’s a sign that something is out of alignment with your values. They’re your own internal rules, both for yourself and for others.
Values drive your behaviour
Ever noticed how you’re more motivated to do certain things over others? That’s usually because some things more closely match the things you hold dear, the things you value.
When you’re able to grasp the importance of something and its result matters to you, motivating yourself to do it (and to do it well!) is relatively easy.
But when you’re facing a task that has nothing to do with your values, motivating yourself is a bit like climbing Mount Everest. It’s slow and sluggish. And it can be very hard to move past that.
When do you create your values?
Your personal values are usually well established by the time you’re 21 years old. They’re typically dependent on things such as your family, friends, religion, schooling, where you live, the media you consume and so on.
Whereas your business values are typically formed between the ages of 21 and 45 years old, when you’re more experienced in the world of work.
If you don’t fall into those age groups, don’t panic! The keyword here is created. The chances are you already have your values but you haven’t yet discovered them. They’ve already been set, they’re just waiting for you to uncover what they are.
What impact do values have on your life?
Happiness and fulfilment
Not everyone knows what their values are and this can lead to them living their lives out of alignment. Their life choices don’t match their values, so they’re often left feeling unfulfilled, stuck and stressed.
Your personal wellbeing comes from living in alignment with your most important values, or your “core” values. This is when you’re likely to feel the most satisfied with your life, as though you’re doing exactly what you’re meant to do. It feels as though you’re on the right path.
The type of values you prioritise can also impact your personal happiness. A study in South Korea found that those who prioritised extrinsic achievements, such as money, power, work and so on, were the least likely to be happy. Whilst those who focused on religion and social relationships (such as family and friends) were the most likely to be happy.
Whenever I guide my coaching clients through the exercise of discovering their values, there’s one noticeable thing that happens almost every time. Clarity.
There are light bulb moments, as they start to see their life choices through a whole new lens. They’re able to make better decisions that not only are more accurate but also easier. Because they already know what’s important to them.
I recently ran a local workshop with Mavens.live here in Brunei on the importance of values. And there was one common theme that came up in participants’ feedback – their newfound purpose.
It pushed us to dig deep and figure out what truly matters at our core. It was like an epic quest to discover our inner solves. Scanning through all those words, feeling torn between so many options. It was like a treasure hunt for the values that really spoke to my soul. […]
This whole experience made me realise just how powerful it is to know your core values. What I learnt is that when you live in alignment with them, it’s like fireworks of purpose and fulfilment. It’s all about living life on your own terms, and not just chasing superficial goals.Amal Osmera, co-founder of AIRCREATIVV
I once had a business experience where things just felt out of alignment. And I couldn’t work out why.
My business partner and I were running a successful business. But it didn’t feel right. Things felt hard, our opinions didn’t always align and I felt a general sense of unease with it all.
In hindsight, that unease came from our values clashing. We weren’t aligned on the things that truly mattered.
When your values match, or crossover, it’s likely that you’re going to have a more aligned relationship. Whether that’s in your personal life, with friendships, romance and so on. Or professionally, through your work.
Executive coach’s tip
You don’t have to possess the values you choose. It might just mean you’re moving towards them.
How to bring your values into practice in everyday life
Once you know your values, you’re able to seek out the things that align with them. You can use your values to guide your decisions, help you select which relationships to focus on and even shape your career choices.
For example, if you value connection, then you’d seek out opportunities for meeting people and joining communities to satisfy your value.
If you value security, then owning a house might become a priority for you. Or you might seek out a job that pays well, even if it’s not necessarily your dream role.
Problem corner: do your company values need to match your personal values?
Sometimes, you’ll uncover your values and find they don’t match those of your company. Does this mean you have to leave and find another job elsewhere? Not necessarily.
Instead, you may want to dive deeper into both your values and your company’s to see if there’s really nothing about them that align. Remember, you don’t need all of your personal values to align with all of your company values.
Most of the time, you’ll find at least one company value that aligns with your values. After all, that’s probably what drew you there in the first place!
If you really can’t find anything, then it might be time to find a new employer for a happier, more fulfilling working life.
By now, you should have a good understanding of why values are important. They can guide your decisions, boost your wellbeing and strengthen your overall life satisfaction. All good reasons to get digging and discover what your values truly are.