Life can be viewed as a long road made up of choices and actions over a period of time. In a world that's full of options and different paths, it can be hard to know which one to take.
While much of life involves facing the unknown in new experiences and opportunities, having a strong set of values can provide clarity on what choices are best for you.
Why do values matter?
Have you ever made a decision and later felt that it was something you wished you hadn't done? This is called regret. Feeling regret often might indicate that you're making choices that do not align with what you value internally.
Values are the things that are most important to you. We use values to guide us. Making choices that match your values helps us feel fulfilled.
What is important?
Choosing which values are important is completely up to you. Everyone has different values but there are some common ones that are held by many people around the world.
It's possible to value many things in life, and you could probably come up with a long list of what's important to you. Choose the things that matter the most, and then make decisions and goals that are related to those values.
For example, placing 'health' high on your list of values can help you to choose to prioritize good nutrition, exercise, and self care. Valuing 'education' will help you prioritize learning new things, reading, school, and challenging your brain.
This video helps to explain the role that values have in shaping lives.
Reflect to understand your values
If you find it hard to choose what you truly value, try to look back on your life and identify the moments that made you feel good.
What do you enjoy in life? What bothers you?
Try to think of the reasons you feel the way you do and match these reasons to values. For example, maybe you were on a sports team and really enjoyed the challenge during matches with other teams. This could lead you to determine 'competition' as a value.
What would be the least likely choice if someone values honesty?
There will be moments in life that force you to weigh your values and decide which option is best. Having a strong set of values that are most important to you will help to navigate you through these situations.
It's normal to reconsider your values from time to time as you grow older and face different challenges. Maintaining core values can help you stay true to yourself and live a meaningful life even when things get hard.