Life today is complicated. It is so complicated that you will be hard pressed to meet someone who isn’t completely overwhelmed with it. It can start to feel like you are stuck in perpetual angst. You feel pulled in all different directions. The pressure keeps mounting. Life feels unfulfilling. It is at this point that you need to purify your life. And the way to do that is to realize that even though life is complicated, it is also incredibly simple. It is as simple as figuring out what you value and living unconditionally according to those values. You’ve got to prioritize in your life according to your values no matter what.
What is a value? It is what you consider from your honest, authentic core to be most important. Deep inside your heart, what do you really want? Your values are about how you want to be in the world relative to others and to yourself, what you want to do and how you want to go about doing it. When the things we do and the way we behave in the world towards others and towards ourselves match our values, we experience simple contentment. The complications fall away as we purify and streamline or lives in the direction of our true desires.
For most of us, there is a big difference between what we value doing and what we are actually doing, how we value acting and how we actually act. We feel like something is just wrong but don’t know exactly what and so we don’t know what to do about it. If we value spending time connecting with our family, but we work a 70 hour work week, we are not living according to our values. If we value being creative and artistic, but take a job in accounting, we are not living according to our values. If we value being useful to others and doing something of meaning, but sit on the couch binge watching TV, we are not living according to our values. If we value pouring all of ourselves into the pursuit of an achievement, but we quit pursuing our goals for the sake of taking care of someone in our life, we are not living according to our values.
The people who are happy on this earth, are the people who are actually doing what they value doing and acting how they value acting. They do not have the experience of being pulled in many different directions because they know their values enough to be able to prioritize according to those values and let the chips fall where they may. Life will seem much more simple because you will know exactly what decisions to make in your life as long as you are clear about your values.
The hardest part about defining your values (so as to live according to them), is to be brutally honest with yourself about what your actual values are. We live in a society that tells us some values are more acceptable than others. Some values make you good, while other values make you selfish and bad. In other words, you’ve been raised to think some values are right and some are wrong. This invalidation of our actual values (and subsequent true priorities) is what caused us to get out of touch with our actual values. To actually live according to our values, we need to be willing to consider that we may actually have values that we have been conditioned to believe are not acceptable to have in comparison to other values. This is especially true when we are expected to self-sacrifice. Essentially, other people expect us to have the same values that they have and thus prioritize according to those priorities.
Value conflicts are the main cause of incompatibility in couples. They are responsible for a huge number of the breakups you see happening in the world. Obviously if we are in a relationship and if values are reflective of our true desires, and our true desires are taking us in opposite directions, towards opposite ends, there is no way to keep the relationship together. The conflict will just keep mounting until there is a rupture beyond repair. This is why it’s so critical to figure out your values and to find a partner whose values are consistent with your own. I think this should in fact be the most important part of dating websites.
Values are not the same as goals. A goal is something that is achieved and then it’s done. Values are about something important that is ongoing. It is something you keep doing for as long as you hold that value, potentially for the rest of your life, as opposed to something that gets crossed off your list once it is achieved. For example, achieving a gold medal win at the Olympics is a goal, not a value. But achieving as an ongoing principal is a value. But there’s noting wrong with goals, in fact your goals can be a good way to figure out what your actual priorities are.
You have values relative to every sector of your life. You have values relative to work, values relative to friendships, values relative to marriage, values relative to parenting, values relative to personal growth, values relative to spirituality, values relative to leisure and the list goes on and on.
So how do you figure out your values? I have some questions here for you to answer…
Looking back at your life: When were you the absolute happiest and why? What were you doing, what factors contributed the most to your happiness? When were you the most proud of yourself and why? When did you experience the most fulfillment and meaning and why?
Looking at your life now: What situation makes you the unhappiest and why? What desire or need is missing from your life now? What part of your life now makes you feel the happiest and why? What provides the most meaning and what makes you feel the most proud and the most fulfilled in your current life?
Look at each aspect of your life and ask yourself, what personal qualities do I want to bring to this aspect of my life? How would I behave and what would I do if I were the ideal version of myself relative to this aspect of my life?
Looking at your future: If you could design the perfect life for yourself, what would it look like? What would you be getting out of your life being that way? What is the best part of your ideal future life, the part that matters the very most to you? What would make you the most proud, feel the most fulfilled and give your life the most meaning and why?
Ideally, you could design a life where you are able to make space for all your various values. You could engage in one value, without taking away from another value. But values are all about clarifying our prioritization. They dictate what we decide to do and not do.
This universe, being a time space reality of growth, loves to gain self-awareness through making you choose between top priorities. It loves to put you in a pinch where you have to decide what you really want. And if you don’t make this choice consciously, you will make it subconsciously. The problem is, the subconscious often prioritizes what provides safety as opposed to what provides the most personal fulfillment. So, you run the risk of losing something that is actually the most important to you by not consciously acknowledging this is your number one value and therefore priority and making life choices accordingly. For this reason, when we are looking at our values, we need to ask ourselves, “If I could only satisfy one of these values, which one would I choose?” If you don’t know what your true values are, life will teach you. Unfortunately, it likes to do so through the school of hard knocks. It will put you in all kinds of painful situations so you can figure out what you don’t want and consequently, highlight what you do want with glaring color.
You need to prioritize your top values and when push comes to shove, prioritize your number one core value above all others. Now is the time to take a look at your life and to be really honest about how you are not living in alignment with your top value or values. From here, it’s about deciding how to live in alignment with your actual values. It’s about asking what changes you could make today to do that. When you decide what steps to take in order to live in alignment with your goal, break those into even tinier steps and then, follow through.
When you are looking at your top values, ask yourself if these values feel true for you. Do they cause you to feel integrity? Can you proudly proclaim them to others and would you support these values even if they come with consequences or conflict with the values others expect you to have?
People ask me all the time how I deal with so much opposition and pressure in my career. The answer is simple, I decided long ago; after a suicide attempt in my teens in fact that nothing was ever worth living out of alignment with my true values. In my career, I am living according to my values and so I am willing to face the consequences and impact of living according to those values because anything is better than not doing so. It gives me a very strong core.
Sometimes values are a bit confusing when we decide that we value feeling a certain way or having a certain kind of person in our life or achieving a specific goal. When this is the case, you can ask the following questions:
Perhaps you decide you want to feel a certain way. Such as be happy. Ask yourself, If I did feel happy, then what would I do differently than I am doing today? What would I be doing more of or less of?
Perhaps you decide you want a certain kind of person or friend or romantic partner. Ask yourself, if I did have this kind of person in my life, how would I act or what would I do in the relationship? What qualities would I want to bring into the relationship? What steps could I take on my side to line up with that person?
Perhaps you have a specific goal you want to achieve. If this is the case, you just have to ask yourself, what am I trying to get out of meeting this goal? Or what is this goal in service of?
Determining your core values is the most important part of becoming aware of your values. Your core values are the absolute deepest values you have. They work similarly to core beliefs. They are at the root of all other values. To find these, we need to ask ourselves, what would this value mean to me? For example, if a value I have is making money and I ask myself what would making money mean to me? The answer may be freedom. Freedom is a core value of mine. I then make choices in my life in accordance with freedom. Or say spending time with my partner is a value, if I ask what would spending time with my partner mean to me? The answer is connection. Connection is a core value of mine. I then make choices in my life in accordance with connection. And if this core value is my top value, everything else in my life comes second to connection. We can take this deeper and deeper if we choose. For example, I could ask what would connection mean to me? Only to find that there is a value even deeper than connection such as belonging.
Strong emotions are always connected to a core value, which is why being really upset is a perfect time to really center in on our core values. The situation we are in, where we are really upset, is essentially threatening one of our core values. So use those times that you get triggered to really become clear about your core values. Look closely at how your life is not being lived in accordance with your core values!
Changing your life to live according to your priorities involves a lot of risk. It is a message to the universe about your actual commitment and where you are actually choosing to put your energy. It is a message to the universe that you are so committed to your value that you are willing to lose things that you are attached to that do not compare to your top value. And the universe will respond by falling into alignment with out top value.
It is very easy to put off acting in accordance with your values because of the risk involved. For example, say your value is spending time connecting with your romantic partner, but you think that to do that you have to make enough money to be able to quit your job and do that. This situation requires that you live out of alignment with your values today, working constantly to make enough money to quit, so you can live in alignment with that value one day in the future. This does not work. There is no true future in this universe. There is only now. The universe responds to your prioritizing in alignment with your values today. Do today as you would do in the future. That is the only way the future will look different and be the one that actually reflects your genuine values. And there must be no conditions set on living in alignment with your values. No exceptions. If of course you want to live a happy life.
Values may change over the course of your life. So you must let them change and let your life change accordingly. Living unconditionally in alignment with your true values is a lifelong practice. Meaning it never ends. It is the north star of our life. They are the foundation of who you are and what you stand for. Don’t try to talk people into having the same values as you have, just find people who already integrally have the same values. Because living in alignment with your core values is a scary change, I encourage you to watch my video on YouTube titled: The Catch Up Effect, The Real Reason We Fear Change. It is my promise to you, that even though it is frightening, you will never do more service to your life by doing anything than you will by changing your life so as to live in perfect alignment with your priorities today. So don’t let anyone talk you out of your core values. Knowing them and living by them is the difference between just going through the motions and really living.