Have you ever had one of “those” years? A year that was life altering? I’m not necessarily talking about moves, marriages, and job changes, but a time in your life where your focus and thinking did a huge shift? I’ve had two ‘aha’ moments so far, at least two that really stick out.
The first was about 9 years ago when Dave brought home a worksheet he was given at the office. The basics of it:
This may sound simple, but writing it out helped bring things into focus. It soon became obvious how out of alignment our goals and actions had become.
Top three life goals:
#1) Raising Godly, moral children.
#2) Spending time as a family.
#3) Spending time in the soil.
At that point in life, we were living in the middle of St. Louis, Dave was gone from 5 AM to 7 PM every day, and neither of us had our hands in anything resembling soil.
We promptly began looking to make some changes, which led us to an island in the middle of the Pacific to get closer to the land and spend more time as a family. It has been great, and we regularly do a check to make sure we’re still on track with our goals.
This past November was my second big “aha” moment. We were visiting another work site in Idaho (because that’s what Monsanto people do on vacation), and spending time with family and a few friends. One night after dinner, Dave’s brother-in-law pulled out a worksheet a co-worker had handed him earlier that week. It was a process that focused on “Finding Your Core Values”. I honestly thought I knew what my values were, but it turns out I had no idea. When your mind has been expanded, you can’t help but want to share the love.
Three Simple Steps to Finding Your Core Values
The first step is coming up with a list of values that resonate with you. We used the list found HERE at Steve Pavlina’s site. The general idea of this exercise is given on his site, but Deb (the co-worker) has put together a chart that makes Step #3 a little easier. Your list of values may be short or long. I went through Steve’s list and wrote down around 40 words that I liked. Dave came up with about 20, and another person at the table came up with 60. There is no correct number.
If you have trouble with this one, picture going to the store. Write out step by step what would make this day perfect. For me, it was finding a ideal parking spot, all the children getting out of the car right away (with their shoes already on), finding the things I needed with little hassle, and a speedy checkout. “Efficiency” was in my top 3 values. Big surprise! You can do the same thing by describing the worst time in your life. This can really give insight into which of the words on Steve’s list are important to you.
Now that you have your list of words, arrange them into related groups, giving each section a title when you are finished. For instance, I had Logic, Rationality, and Knowledge on my list of favorite values. I put these all into one group and called it “LOGIC”. I ended up with 10 headings in which I could fit all 40 words. You might have less than 10 headings, but try not to come up with more than 10.
Take your ten main values and write them on the diagonal lines in the chart below.
#1 “Logic” and #2 “Efficiency”
you would compare them in the very top left box. If you value Efficiency over Logic, you would shade in the half of the square with the “2” in it. Do this for all the boxes, comparing the values on the diagonal lines. When we were given the test, it was recommended that we think about it in the following way:
“If I was stuck on an island, and could only take one of these two things with me,
which one would I rather have in my ‘tool’ box.”
Once all of your squares are half shaded, go through and count up how many times you have a “1” shaded, how many times you have a “2” shaded, etc. Write the totals at the bottom, and deal with any tie breakers by asking which of the two is more important. Now place them in order on a sheet of paper, and take a good look at what your core values turn out to be.
It was interesting to reflect on the time in my life that I was the most unhappy. My daily life didn’t include anything that resembled my core values. I had 3 small children, and a husband that was gone from Monday morning through Friday evening. There is no teamwork in single parenting a child. There is no reasoning with a 3 year old, and there is certainly NOTHING efficient about getting anything accomplished with three little minions underfoot. If only I’d known then why life was so frustrating during those years.
Doing this exercise with your significant other can be interesting as well. It explains much when you value “Teamwork” and your spouse values “Independence”. It’s a great way to learn how to step out of your comfort zone and support your spouse in new areas.
I can’t tell you how much I hope that you, and those you love, work through this exercise. Understanding what makes you happy in life can save you from so much frustration. So…
What are YOUR core values?