Most of us have thought about our goals at some point, but rarely do we take time to really think about how we want to be as a person, and to set goals that are consistent with this.

Russ Harris defines values as ‘desired qualities of behaviour’. They are what you know in your heart to be important to you, in terms of how you want to be in the world, in your key relationships and towards yourself. For example, the kind of partner, parent, friend or co-worker that you would like to be. There are no right or wrong values, they are very individual and depend a lot on context.

Connecting to your values means actively deciding on the kind of person you want to be and then applying this to moment-by-moment choices in your life. Values aren’t goals, as they can’t be achieved or ‘ticked off’ a list, but rather they are what guides you in your choices. Being clear on your values and acting consistently with these is what can make for a rich, purposeful and meaningful life.

This is true even in horrific circumstances. Victor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, is an inspiring example of someone who lived by his values in spite of his situation:

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Viktor Frankl (1905-1997), Neurologist & Psychiatrist

Use these exercises to start exploring your values:

The Obituary Exercise

The Valued Living Questionnaire

What can you do in the next 24 hours that that brings you closer towards your values?

Tell us about it – we’d love to know how you go!

Contact us at MyLife Psychologists to find out more.