Making choices is a fundamental part of life. The quality of your decisions, and how aware you are when making them, can have a significant impact on your physical health, emotional health and professional success. Therefore, understanding different factors that influence and drive your decision-making process is extremely important. 

One of the main factors, proven by scientific research, to influence your decision-making process is personal values. Values are defined as; 

‘relatively stable enduring beliefs held by an individual, which apply across contexts, and function as guides to ideal end-states’

In layman’s terms: 

‘values are important beliefs you hold, that apply to all different areas of your life, and help guide you towards the ideal version of you/ the future version of yourself you would ideally like to become’. 

But how do you use your personal values to make better decisions? How do personal values change across the different areas of your life? And what do you actually need to do to step into that future, ideal version of you?

Your authentic life awaits

Your personal values are representations of your deepest desires and beliefs. A window into your soul. 

Understanding your personal values, and using them to make decisions, is akin to a secret shortcut being revealed that will fastrack you to success (on your terms), wellness and a more joyful life. 

When you build a life based upon your personal values, you are building a life based upon your unique authentic self. 

Don’t know what your personal values are? Download this FREE 5 STEP GUIDE to help you discover yours today. 

What happens when it goes wrong? 

Perhaps you are being exposed to prejudice behavior in the workplace and it isn’t sitting right with you, maybe you feel like you are being disrespected and treated unfairly by a loved one or you are experiencing that sense of stagnation in your life and a desire to grow and move on. 

You could even have a billion pounds and have achieved all your goals, but you feel empty and unhappy. 

Whenever you experience conflict or friction in your life (or any other negative emotions, thoughts and feelings), if you look at the situation through the lens of your personal values, chances are,  you will quickly see what is really going on; you are not living a life authentic to you or your true desires. 

You are not being true to yourself. 

The effect of these situations can be relatively small causing irritation, low-level anxiety, indecision or confusion. Or, they can have a significant impact on your well-being and quality of life. 

Not being true to yourself long term can lead to self-doubt, low confidence, low self-worth and an inability to take action. 

Understanding your personal values in these cases will help you to know the action you must take in order to achieve the best resolution. 

The differing contexts for personal values 

To go even deeper, many people have a different set of values for career versus relationships, so it is important to consider your personal values for each frame of reference. 

Your personal values around your career could be something like; growth, wisdom, wealth, freedom and advancement. 

Whereas, the set of values you hold for your relationships (i.e. life partner, family and friends), could include such values as; honesty, love, fun, passion, commitment and integrity. 

You very well could hold all of the above ‘relationship values’ (honesty, love, fun, passion, commitment and integrity) for your career, but as soon as you look at each word through the lens of your career, the words take on a different meaning. 

There are many other examples of your relationship and career values crossing over. 

For example, if growth is a career based value, no doubt this also impacts your relationships i.e. if you’re investing time and energy into personal development at work, it’s hard for this to not positively impact your relationships. 

As you get to know and understand yourself more, you can use this to connect more deeply with your loved ones. 

Conversely, you cannot work without having relationships, sure they’re work colleagues/ professional contacts, but they’re still relationships. 

So it’s likely your personal values around relationships will impact the way you manage your professional relationships, both in how you communicate with them and how you expect them to communicate with you. 

Just a small side note here, quite often in the workplace if a conflict has arisen between two people, the root cause is a clash of values or a misunderstanding of each other’s values. For example, if you value freedom and creativity whereas a colleague who you work with closely values structure and certainty, then chances are problems will arise. 

The best thing to do in this case is to better communicate with each other about your values/ what you believe to be important and figure out a way to work together. 

It’s also about being compassionate and appreciative of each other’s uniqueness. 

But what happens when your own set of personal values are conflicting with each other? 

Value hierarchies 

Whilst it’s easy for us to sit here and write a nice, neat list of our personal values and talk about the theory of using them to help guide our decisions, in reality, in our complex complicated contradicting reality, it’s not so simple. 

Situations will regularly arise where your own set of personal values will be at odds with each other. A situation where, whatever happens, whatever option you take, one of your personal values will not be served. 

Perhaps you want to take the promotion and fulfill your values of advancement but you’re aware of the negative impact it could have on your relationship based values of intimacy and closeness. 

Or you love the team you’re working with, which fulfills your value of camaraderie and teamwork, but the job you do no longer lights you up and does not meet your values around passion. 

In these cases, what you need to know is your personal values hierarchy. Which values are more important to you than others? What is your ultimate, number 1, most important personal value? What would be the next one after that? And after that? 

Once you understand your priorities, whilst it’s likely the decision will still be hard to make, at least you will have conviction in it and a framework to rely on. 

This is not a straightforward undertaking. Life just doesn’t work like that. 

Defining your personal values hierarchy requires extensive self-reflection and/or guided support to figure out the answers to these hard questions. Hard questions like, if it was a matter of life or death and you had to choose between one thing over the other, what would be most important to you? 

Your integrity or your fame? Your friendship or your spirituality? Your self-respect or your culture? The list of potential conflicts in real life goes on and on, forever.  

Why bother? 

Whilst it’s unlikely you will face a life or death situation, the message I’m trying to communicate is that the better you understand your personal values, and the more you know what your priorities are, the more aligned your decision-making capabilities will become with your true self. 

This is how you build your most authentic life. This is how you get closer to ultimate self-expression and congruence. 

If you’re feeling lost, like you’re traveling down the wrong path, or you have that sense of ‘is this it’ and you’re petrified at the thought of life being the same for the next 30/40/ 50 years, then your personal values are a key factor in helping you take the first courageous steps on the journey of transformation that you so desperately need. 

Not everyone is willing to take the, oftentimes, challenging steps on this journey. If it was easy, everyone would be feeling authentic and content in their lives, and we know this isn’t the case. 

But some people have made the effort, some people have done the work – you may even know a couple of these people. They are probably the picture of health, have financial abundance and career success. 

These people experience this level of success because they have built a life tailored to their desires, they have built a life in which they are able to be authentic and they continually make decisions with personal values in mind. 

Personal values and your career

You can now clearly see the impact value-congruent behavior can have on your overall life. But how does it more specifically impact your career? 

Your career is a continually evolving and unfolding journey made up of constant decisions. There is never a time in your professional life that you do not have to make decisions.

In the modern world, people are routinely on the edge of transformation, standing at the top of a wide chasm and on the other side sits their new career, their new life. 

Every decision counts, no matter the size. Every single decision you make builds up and contributes to the whole. 

Think about this analogy; every single minute makes up the hours, makes up the weeks, makes up the years makes up your entire life. Every tiny decision you make ultimately makes up the bigger ones, which then makes up the direction of your life. 

By defining your work values and using them as guides for career decisions, you will be able to make decisions that will serve you, the whole authentic you, decisions based on your terms. 

My gift to you

In my role as a transformational life and career coach, one of the main goals I work on with my clients is to help them build careers, and lives, in which their personal values are not only being met but they’re being allowed to flourish. 

Discover More: What Is Coaching And How Will It Help You

I have seen first hand that those individuals who have consciously cultivated careers around their authentic self, whether it’s working within an organisation or building their own business, are those that feel that sense of flow, enjoy the most success and experience the most joy. 

Who doesn’t want that? 

So here now is my gift to you: a free downloadable guide to define your personal values:  Define, Refine, Align – 5 steps to help you gain clarity on your personal values and build your most authentic life: 

DOWNLOAD HERE

If you do anything this week, do this exercise and take the first steps on the journey of building a more joyful and authentic life. 

If you are one of the people who take action towards their dream life and do this exercise, I would love to hear from you about your discoveries and how you plan to implement them.