Align With Your Values and Change Your Life
I believe the values at the heart of your being were put there by God as a compass of sorts to get you to your destination or destiny in life. Yet many of us are unaware of these values and keep making decisions that (if we knew our values) we’d recognize are contrary to everything God wants for us.
This makes us feel lost, frustrated, unfulfilled and even worthless when we don’t know what we are really here for. When we feel this way, it tells us we are not spending enough time with God, to learn more about who we are and our purpose.
As someone who is visiting our website here at PCCCA, you are probably more self-aware than the average person because you are viewing pages to teach you how to better help others. This is already important to you.
What are benefits to align with your values?
When you align with your values, or stop fighting them, everything becomes easier.
You stop feeling overwhelmed, stressed, unfulfilled, guilty, anxious, depressed and lost. You stop struggling to get out of bed in the morning, overeating and drinking, wondering what’s the point of it all, and struggling to make it through the day.
You start achieving everything you’ve always dreamed of.
You finally enjoy relationships that bring joy to your life, a career that helps you to feel fulfilled, valued and allows for growth, the close friendships that you’ve always dreamed of and you can find adventure in every day. You even find the mental and physical space that allows you to give back to the community and support the causes you believe in without ever feeling drained or exhausted.
It might sound too good to be true, but it’s very achievable if you start to make your values your priority and live with more intention. Simply identify your values, prioritize the ones that matter most to you and allow them to guide you towards living a happier and more fulfilled life.
Keep reading as I explain more about values and their importance, before walking you through the process itself.
What are values and why do they matter?
Your values are your standards for life. They provide guidance with any decision you have to make, any path you choose to follow in life and any goal you decide to pursue.
Some values stay the same throughout the course of your life, such as your happiness, health, loyalty and family. We often learn these at an early age and use these to guide our actions and behaviors on an everyday basis.
There also times when our values might change. This often happens as our circumstances change, especially if we grow our families, change careers or have new experiences, both positive and negative.
"When you align with your values, or stop fighting them, everything becomes easier."
If we start living life according to our values, we feel good. We feel happy. We feel like we’re living in alignment with God’s plan for our lives and that we are practicing what we ‘preach’ and living as scripture teaches us.
On the flip side, if we’re not aware of our values or we’re not living in alignment with them, we’re likely to feel unhappy, unfulfilled, guilty or depressed, anxious or stressed, lost, confused and ‘off course’.
Values generally come in two ‘flavors’
We can split our values into two main types. These are known as instrumental value and terminal values.
Terminal values are focused towards goals and achievements. They’re the states of existence or goals you’d like to achieve or experience and include happiness, love, security, harmony, respect, recognition, world peace and so on.
Instrumental values are your tools to get there. They’re focused on personality traits, character and wisdom from the Bible such as honesty, obedience, responsibility, and so on.
As the name suggests, these values can help you achieve those goals and live. These can include both the ‘moving towards’ type which give you pleasure including love, passion, health, comfort, adventure and so on, and the ‘moving away’ type which include loneliness, depression, anger, criticism, and so on.
We can use both types of values to help us change our lives and start living closer to our own values and those we find in the Bible. Here’s how we can do that:
How to align with your values
Step 1: Identify your values
Before you do anything else, it’s important to define which values you identify with the most.
There are two ways that you can do this; by reviewing values lists and by spending time in thought and prayer.
Both are very useful approaches as they help you to consider the values that you hold dear, review life experiences that have shaped your outlook in this way, and open your mind to the possibilities out there.
Start by reviewing one of the many Values Lists online, such as this one from Carnegie Mellon University. (We give you our custom Values Exercise in the Christian/Professional Life Coach Certification course.)
Read through the values and highlight those ones that speak to you the loudest. Don’t overthink this part- just go with what resonates with you the most and remember that this is for your eyes only, so you shouldn’t censor yourself either!
It’s also worthwhile to review this list of Christian values to help you live your life according to the Word of God.
Once you’ve worked through the list, pop it to one side and move to the next mini step.
Invest time in prayer, meditation and contemplation
Next find some quiet time to look within and listen to the values that lie within your heart. Invest time in prayer, sharing your heart with God. Then, take an equal amount of time to be still and listen to what God may reveal (meditation).
During this time it's also useful to ask ourselves a series of questions to help release the flow of thoughts, creativity and emotions, and explore deeper than we otherwise might. Consider the following:
When did I feel happiest, proudest or most fulfilled with my life? What had happened?
Why did you feel that way? What made this moment so special?
What would I do if I only had five years to live?
What if it was only five months?
Or five weeks?
Who do I admire the most? Why do I admire this person?
What are my goals in life?
What is important to me and why?
What do I want to avoid?
What do I never want to experience?
What has happened to me in the past that caused a negative emotional experience?
Keep asking yourself questions until you have gained better insight into your true values and how you dream of living your life. Write down your thoughts as you go so that you can refer to them in the next step.
Step 2: Narrow down your list of core values
Once you’ve done this, it’s time to narrow down your choices to a list of core values. This certainly isn’t an easy process but it’s well worth the effort.
Start by narrowing down to a list of ten values, and then put them into order according to your priorities. Right at the top of your list you should see the value that matters the most for you, then the next most important, and so on as you move down the list.
Be aware that this might take some time, and you might decide to shuffle your priorities on the list until you’re completely happy with them. Take your time and find what is right for you.
Once you’ve done this, you need to narrow your list of values down until you have your top five priorities. I know this is hard, but if you want to use these values to guide your life and help you achieve your dreams, it’s an important step to take.
Step 3: Are you living according to these values?
Next, I want you to take a piece of paper and list your five top values. Then split the page into two parts.
On the left you need to write down the ways you’re currently living in alignment with these values. Consider things like family, work, hobbies, and your general lifestyle.
Do your actions help you move closer towards these values?
Then I want you to write down the ways you’re not living in alignment with your values. Are you living your life as the person you’d like to be? Or are you struggling through, feeling lost and directionless, making mistakes that you’d rather forget and ignoring the things that really matter?
Step 4: Get your life into alignment
Keep thinking about this list of values, but this time consider what changes you could make to start living life in alignment with these values.
What could you change? What action could you take? What might work? What do you need to do to bring your core values back into the center of your life again?
Take a brand-new sheet of paper and write down your thoughts as they come. Again, don’t limit yourself, censor yourself or tell yourself that any of your ideas are impossible at this stage. We can work through them later.
Step 5: Start living your values
It’s time to take action on what you’ve just discovered. It’s up to you to embrace these true values and create a life where you live mindfully according to these values.
Which of these actions, changes or tasks in the last step could you commit to doing?
For example, if your family relationships are your priority, how could you invest more time and effort into helping them to thrive? Could you schedule at least 30 minutes per day to hang out with your kids without an agenda?
Consider what is more achievable for you, set yourself a goal and commit to doing this activity or experience. Grab your calendar and add these actions into your schedule. Then start doing them.
Be ready to reassess as time goes on to check whether these values and goals are working for you, so whether you need to gently re-adjust the direction of your life.
Align with your values and you can transform your life more that you would ever believe possible. Simply define what your values are, prioritize the most important take action to see how beneficial this can be for your faith, happiness, health and sense of overall well-being.
When you align with your values, they will open the door to your destiny.
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"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." ~ 2 Timothy 2:15