This article goes into practical ways we can start living by our personal values. If you have not clarified your own values yet, check out part two of this article series here.
Flavour and Savour
Any given value has an infinite number of possible actions. Take kindness for example. This could include complimenting a friend, petting your dog, making yourself a nice dinner, giving someone you love a hug…the list goes on.
One simple way we can bring our values into play is to pick one or two values from your list. Throughout your day try to flavour your actions with that value. Whenever you do a value-based action, notice how you feel afterwards. Is this action more in line with the person you want to be or less? If it is more in line, then try to savour how that feels.
SMART Goal Setting
Another, more formal way, to bring our values into play is to set a goal around a given value. The SMART acronym is a popular way to do this. The acronym is as follows.
Specific – we want the goal to be as specific as possible. If your goal is to be kinder to yourself, what does that actually look like? An example of a specific goal would be “I’ll practice a self-compassion meditation 2 times this week, once on Monday and once on Wednesday”.
Motivated by Values – is this goal motivated by your values? Is it helping you become more like the person you deep down want to be?
Adaptive – is this goal going to help you improve your life in some way? If no, then it is not very likely you will complete it.
Realistic – this one is very important, and often why we do not end up meeting our goals. When we set unrealistic goals for ourselves, and then end up failing, it can lead us to lose confidence in our abilities and that pesky inner critic can rear its ugly head. Always ask yourself, on a scale of 0 to 10, how realistic is this goal (0 being this goal is completely unrealistic to 10 being this goal is completely realistic)? We want a 7 or higher.
Time-framed – always put a time limit on your goal. This allows us to see that the goal has been completed, which can improve our confidence in our ability to complete our goals.
How do I know if these are my real values?
This is a very common question. The interesting thing about this question, is it is not really something that can be answered by going over it in your head.
This question can only be answered by getting out there, trying out actions in line with a specific value, and noticing whether or not this brings you closer or further away from the sort of person you want to be. There is an old proverb that sums this up nicely…
“The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”
So, get out there, and test it out for yourself!