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How Your Values Can Make You Happier

Updated: Sep 1, 2023

Sign with arrow pointing toward happily ever after
Photo by Ben Rosett on Unsplash

One of my ah-ha moments since becoming a coach was realizing how intrinsically linked our personal values are to our sense of happiness and fulfillment. In other words, if you are living a life that aligns well with your core values, you are likely pretty satisfied, however if those things are out of sync, discontent follows.

Are you conscious of your values? I mean when, if ever, have you sat down and listed what it is in life that you hold most dear? If you are feeling out of balance, lacking purpose, are unhappy or just sort of feeling blah, I suggest doing a values check to see if the

life you are living is aligned to your deepest beliefs of what is important.

Try this simple exercise:

  • Sit down with pen and paper and write down all of your values. Here are a few to get you thinking: family, community, financial security, joy, peace, nature, schedule flexibility, solitude, philanthropy…You get the idea.

  • Next, rate how important each value is to you, on a scale of 1-10,

  • Then, rate how well you are living that value, on a scale of 1-10 .

Are you walking the talk?

  • Subtract the second number from the first, and where you see a biggest gaps, are the areas where you might want to consider some changes.

I rate family among my top values. And yet, while my kids were young, I was working in a corporate job with a very long commute. I would work until the last minute, then endure the notorious LA traffic to pick up the kids at preschool before they closed. I’d rush to figure out dinner, then quickly usher the kids off to bed so that we could pick up the routine the next day. How does this align with the high value I put on family?

What, in retrospect, might I have done differently? I could have raised the issue with the company to see how I could shift my time to accommodate my young family’s needs. And if the company said ‘no’? Well, then perhaps the company's values weren't aligned with mine and I should have begun a search elsewhere.

Think about different aspects of your life, including the environment you live and work in. What are your company’s values? What about the people you are surrounding yourself with? Your spouse or partner? Where you find misalignment with your own values, you may also find the source of discontent.

So, what then? Not all misalignments need big change. In many cases, a small adjustment might do — at least for the time being. If you find you highly value creativity, but your job is anything but, it doesn’t mean you need to quit, but perhaps find a creative outlet outside of work. As you move forward, you may think about how you evolve your job and career in a more creative direction.

With the launch of the new year, you may be focused on setting goals. (Check out my post on Goals here). This is the perfect time to take stock of how your values align with where you are and set goals to realign them. Once you understand where changes need to be made, you can think about what changes you want to include into your short and longterm planning. And guess what? That alone will make you happier.

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