What do you value?

What do you value?

This is a question that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. It’s something I’m betting is both very easy and very difficult for most of us to answer. It’s easy because we know ourselves. It’s difficult because we don’t often take time to articulate what we really feel is important in life. It’s easy because we live our own lives on a daily basis. It’s difficult because we don’t always act in ways that line up with our values.

In theory, our values should be easy to express. They are, after all, the foundation of who we are as people. Our bedrock. Our most basic selves. In reality, our values get overlooked in the daily grind of life. When you’re triple-booked for meetings, your kid is sick, you’ve got family coming over for dinner tonight and a big presentation to prepare for tomorrow, you don’t have time to think about values.

I am challenging you today to make the time. Ask yourself “What do I value?”

Focusing on the foundation

Values have been on my mind because I have been struggling to make an important decision about what next steps I should take for my career. I’m at a crossroads and have been standing here for too long. I’m stuck.

What I realized is that when I’m stuck, it’s often because I’m perseverating on the wrong things. In this case, I’ve been too focused on the details of the next steps. What I should be doing first is getting rock-solid on the values and vision I have for myself. I’ve been putting the cart before the horse. Instead of worrying about courses, certifications, and marketing myself, I should be thinking about my personal values, mission and vision.

I think a lot of people do this. Engineers jump to detailed design before understanding the fundamental problem. Business leaders chase short-term opportunities without first considering the company’s long-term strategy. Politicians make campaign promises before understanding the full implications of implementing the promise. Many of us feel the need to “get on with it” and make a decision on what to do when confronted with a problem or challenge. And while moving ahead and making a decision quickly is a worthy goal, doing so without taking stock of the underlying issues leads to second-guesses and poor outcomes.

In my case, my mistake has become clear. I need to look inward before looking outward. I need my values to be completely thought through and expressed before I start thinking about next steps. When I do that, I’m guessing that the path forward will be clearer, and I’ll be able to make some decisions more confidently.

What about you?

What are your values? How have they informed your career and major life decisions? Let us know about it in the comments sections below. I’d love to hear from you.

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