Choosing the Right Values
Over the course of my years, I have heard the term “values” on countless occasions. Whether in a college course, conference workshop, or on a motivational podcast, the concept of values is considered an important topic whilst deciding who we are as a respective person and as a collective people. Values are something that we look for in others as we are choosing our friends, our significant others, and our business partners because what we desire in our relationships should be conducive to how we desire our lives to be structured. But, like most things in life, values are something that we cannot force upon others. Rather, it is a personal foundation on which all of us must build upon within ourselves. Upon further contemplation of this fundamental concept, I have also come to a realization that there are values that are preassigned by my merely being born in this particular time and place, as well as by the family and culture in which I was raised. Regarding these “predetermined values” I believe that once I bring the unconscious into the conscious then I can alter these values as I see fit. Of course, this notion of the flexible engineering of my value system corresponds with the values that I hold concerning free thinking and free moral agency. At any rate, the values that I choose to cultivate within myself will ultimately define the many components of the person that I choose to be including my work ethic, my relationships, and my health, just to name a few. So, how do I really know what values I should nurture in my efforts to become the best possible human being that I can be?
First of all, it is imperative that we analyze and polish the positive, natural values that we have been instilled with. For example, due to my particular upbringing, family was always highlighted as a primary value. So even to this day, family sits proudly at the top of my value structure. This is not something that I had to contemplate because it was inherent within the way I was taught. Having said this, one does not need a strong family bond in his/her history to ponder this value and make it an element within his/her value structure. Just realize that it is a value containing many personal and relational benefits and if it fits into your concept of a successful life, then reinforce family values into your personal values structure. Other values instilled in me according to my upbringing would include honesty and thoughtfulness, both of which are in my Top 10 Values List that I nurture.
Additional values we tend to accumulate, oftentimes without putting too much thought into them, as we experience life and try to meet the demands of our goals. For example, I learned that possessing a sense of humor is an adaptive asset that has helped me during awkward social situations, times of distress, and a few times humor has even gotten me out of trouble. My developing a sense of humor could probably be more accurately characterized as an unconscious survival skill, but upon contemplation I view humor as a value that is important enough for me that it also made it into my Top 10 Values List. Another adaptive value that developed into my values structure is timeliness. Being late for almost any scheduled occasion causes me stress and needless to say, I am not a big fan of unproductive stress. So, in order to avoid needless mental strain I put a high value on being a little bit early for all of my scheduled activities, both professional and social. I highlight these 2 previous values because they are not a product of my conscious attempts to necessarily be successful, but rather they are more of my unconscious adaptation to reduce discomfort. But, can I nurture these values and utilize them to increase my chances of being a successful person? The answer is, absolutely yes. Furthermore, since these values arose as natural adjustment mechanisms, I did not have to seek them out but rather I only had to hone in on the benefits that they provide to my short and long-term goals.
Finally, there are other values that we seek out in our intentional efforts to improve ourselves. Whether we are striving to improve our socioeconomic status by making more money, improve our social prowess, improve our efficacy as a parent, or any of the other numerous enhancements that will make our lives more fulfilling, assessing and cultivating values is an important ingredient in our recipe for success. There are some values that are inherently intertwined with other values and these are the ones that I tend to focus on first. For instance, determination is a value that made it to my Top 10 Values List. Of course, one should be inclined to embrace determination when attempting to reach any goal. But, upon further contemplation it has become apparent to me that determination is an underlining factor in other values within my Top 10 Values List as well. If I am to value honesty, then I need to be determined to abide by honest principles. Since I place such a high value on family, then I should always remain determined to consider my family first before making any significant movements toward any particular goal. Another value that maintains a reciprocal nature with other values on my list is self-improvement. It stands to reason that self-improvement is an intrinsic principle that characterizes my efforts to improve upon all of the other values I have chosen and therefore, self-improvement is a value, as well as a value within values.
When assessing the values that you choose to enhance your time on this planet, try not to select those that simply sound like a good idea, or simply because someone else used them to propel their own success. Instead, perform a deep inventory of the skills and principals that you already possess and match those to your goals. Try to connect the values that contain intrinsic usefulness to other values and foster a symbiotic relationship between them so that your values are self-perpetuating. Build your value structure strong like the foundation of mighty fortress and as always, be sure to keep your brains warm out there.
My Top 10 Values List:
5. Personal Development