18 Jun 2020

Adding value: three simple steps to greater self-awareness (and a more meaningful life)

‘Values help us define the person we want to be.’

– Dr Tasha Eurich

Values play a key role in our professional and personal lives. Our ability to understand – and prioritise – our values can help us lead lives that have meaning. But the critical bit is having an awareness of our values.

In Dr Eurich’s book ‘Insight’, she puts forward a compelling case for self-awareness. Years of research on the topic have led her to conclude that:

‘Self-awareness is the meta-skill of the twenty-first century’. 

She argues that the qualities most critical for success in today’s world (emotional intelligence, empathy, influence, communication, collaboration) all stem from self-awareness.

According to Dr Eurich, the first critical step in becoming self-aware is ‘developing a core set of principles that guide how we want to live our lives.’ That means spending a bit of time thinking about the values that are important to us. 

We’ve covered the topic of values already in some of our blog posts:

But how do we define our own personal values? 

Even if we’re not actually aware of it, we all have a set of core values that guide us and motivate us – a bit like an inner rule book for how we live our lives. These values or beliefs shape the decisions we make; they influence our thoughts and our emotions; they determine our behaviour (and, as a result, also our destiny).

So what are your values? Here’s a three-step exercise you can carry out to understand your values – and yourself – much better.

Step One: EXPLORE your values

Ask yourself the following questions and jot down some ideas:

  1. What values were you raised with? Do you still agree with those?
  2. What were the most important events or experiences of your childhood and young adulthood? How did they shape your view of the world?
  3. At work and in life, who do you most respect and what do you respect about them?
  4. Who do you least respect? What makes you feel this way about them?
  5. Who is the best (and worst) boss you’ve ever had? Why? What did they do that made them the best or worst?
  6. When it comes to raising a family or mentoring others, what behaviours would your most and least want to instil?

Step Two: IDENTIFY your values

After you’ve noted down some responses to the questions above, you’ll be getting a sense of what qualities and attributes are really important to you. Now take a look at this fairly exhaustive list of values below. Try sorting the words into the following categories:

  • Important to me
  • Not important to me
  • Very important to me

Look at those in the category ‘Very important to me’.  Can you put them in order of importance? Do you have a top three?

Step Three: APPLY your values

Now ask yourself the following: Are you living your life consistent with these values? Are you applying these values to both big and small decisions that you make?

If you’re not living in a way that’s true to your values, it will soon catch up with you. It will show up as feelings of dissatisfaction, discomfort and disconnection. Whereas, for those who have the self-awareness and drive to live and breathe their values, it’s a different story. Their lives will be full of meaning and purpose – and they will find it easy to make the decisions and choices that will be right for them.

So what are you waiting for? Get in tune with your values – and get in touch with who you really are.