Do you ever sometimes wonder why you do the things you do…what you say “yes” to and often fail to say “no” to? Have you ever had a hard time deciding which path to take? Maybe started on a path that once you were on it, began to be unsatisfied or seriously questions why? Do you sometimes freeze, faint or simply vacillate when you have to make difficult choices about what it is you want to do?
I think we’ve all been there. The real question is how to make those times few and far between.
I’ve had several of those times in my life, the most recent being whether or not to change my professional focus from a physical therapy clinical educator and researcher to that of professional coach. It wasn’t easy and the stakes were high….like leaving a full-time, tenured university position and stepping down as Director of the largest orthopaedic physical therapy residency in the country. It took a lot of soul searching, guidance and mentoring. Looking back on it now, it’s clear to me that if I had already worked through and discovered my personal core values and used them as criteria, that decision would have been a lot easier and I would have been able to make it a lot more confidently. Being on this side of the decision I now know I made the right choice…..things can turn out well in spite of yourself sometimes. However, it does make me wonder about other choices I’ve made and how knowing my personal core values might have improved some of those decisions.
What are “personal core values”? It’s important to define because it is one of at least four distinctly different kinds:
- Moral values: These stem from our religious or world-view and are moral and ethical in nature.
- “Ante” Values: These are values that we have simply to get into the game. Things like Kindness, Politeness, Timeliness, etc. Some, like Honesty and Truthfulness overlap with Moral values
- Aspirational Values: These are Ante values or someone else’s core values we don’t have or have enough of but wish we did.
- Personal core Values: These are who we are and represent our unique and individual essence; our ultimate and most fulfilling form of expressing and relating. These are the values serve as the compass point for being true to you self and when honored, allow you feel fulfilled in your highest point of contribution.
Since living by your personal core values makes for fulfilled living, why is it that most people don’t have a clear idea of what their’s are? Probably because they’re just too close-up. It’s said that a fish is the last one to recognize water. So it is with our personal core values, which is more that just unfortunate because they’re the secret to making good decisions. Personal core values are also the secret to making otherwise good decision great…..and easier!
To make matters more challenging, we confuse these with the other types of values listed above as well as fantasize how we would like our values to be (once we start thinking about them). In addition, we tend to gravitate toward the most socially acceptable or popular ones so picking from a list doesn’t help much. Finally, it’s flat-out hard work that takes being honest with yourself…..I know it was for me. Coaches will tell you that it often takes their clients several months to come up with a list that really represent them and I have found that to be the case with my clients as well.
Do you know what your personal core values are? Remember, these are what we are, not what we wish them to be. They have to be discovered. If you do, I acknowledge and honor you for accomplishing something of importance and great value. If not but I’ve piqued your interest, great! Because in the next post I’ll iscuss proven ways that can help you effectively and efficiently identify your personal core values.
Until then, I’d be curious to know do you decide to do the things you do? How do you decide when faced with two or more very good choices? In addition to holding up the mirror of moral and “ante” values, how would having a clear idea of your personal core values help?
Please share the wealth and leave a comment. What working for you and what’s not?