The value of values: how I stumbled onto cracking life’s code

This blog follows on from those I wrote about my sabbatical last year [Part 1, Part 2]. There’s a bigger picture about choosing to live life by design, purposefully and with meaning that I want to share, but first things first.

I was lucky enough to be brought up with what I now know is a set of foundational values that have set me up in life. I appreciate how fortunate that makes me – it could have been different for sure and I could easily have been dealt a different hand. But it’s only in the past couple of years that I feel I really understand what role values play in our lives, and how it is we can embrace them if we choose to live a life that truly has a design. In fact it’s only recently that I have discovered what my values even are.

My understanding is the synthesis of a bunch of influences, research and personal experience, stitched into a structure that makes practical sense to me and those who I have shared and explored it with.

Our values govern our lives. They are the lenses through which we see the world. But not only that – they are the measures by which we assess and even judge all people, interactions and situations. Some are subconscious, others are front of mind.

Our upbringing, specifically through our family relationships (whether close or not), establishes in us a core set of foundational values. Many we inherit as a consequence of proximity; others we admire; a few we reject by choice. Some ensure a level of societal fitness while others hinder us and remain a stone in our shoes psychologically. Added to this is a set of personal values that we acquire from experiences throughout our lives. Within this pyramid of values certain ones are more important to us than the rest. Those that bubble to the top do so because of what’s going on in our lives in the recent past, present or near future - the result of experiential learning or a mindset shift. Our foundational values are just that - they tend not to change. Our personal values however can shift, either changing as we evolve or a consequence of becoming more important at a point in our lives, rising to the top.

Some of us know what our values are and embrace them, using them as powerful navigational tools. Most of us however are not even aware of these silent sentinels that dictate our decisions and behaviour. Before we can work with them, we need to know what they are. So how do do you find out what yours are?

In my next blog I’ll share my own discovery and the people and tools that have enlightened me.