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Getting it right, knowing your personal values

I have been speaking with clients a lot about their personal values, so here’s a bit about values…..

In coaching we talk a lot about personal values, but what do we really mean by them? Values and needs can often get mistaken, focussing just on personal needs ‘can take you further into yourself so that you behave in a selfish way,’ (Purdie, 2010) . Personal values connect us, they are the fundamental principles by which we each all live by; they inspire our dreams and how we aspire to be in the world. By knowing your personal values you are giving yourself a blueprint for life. This can help you set life and work goals that are the most appropriate and motivating for you; and having this blue print to refer to at crucial times will help you make the most successful choices in life for you, rather than for others.

Your personal values tend to stay the same through life but they may evolve over time and change in priority at different points in your life. This is why it useful to regularly review and prioritise your personal values, especially at different life stages, such as a crossroads, or a sudden change. This exercise can be quite enlightening as to what is happening for you in the present time. Going through quite a significant life change myself recently I reflected on my personal values and I was quite surprised to discover that having ‘integrity’ and ‘security’ are most important to me in the present time, much above other personal values that usually take centre stage. Knowing this has helped me feel confident and grounded in decision making within a whirlwind of options and uncertainty.

Knowing your values also helps you understand your own behaviour in situations. Often when there has been conflict with a friend, loved one, or colleague it can be attributed to a clash of personal values. Understanding your own personal values and the values of others can help you empathise better with others and reconcile differences.

Knowing and living by your personal values also keeps you happy and healthy and attune with the world. ‘In contrast when your life is out of line with your values you may feel dissatisfied, stressed and in extreme situations can affect your health.’ (Neale, Spencer-Arnell, Wilson, 2011).

If you are looking to better understand your personal values there are many exercises out there that you can sit quietly and do on your own and reflect on. Alternatively working with a coach can help you explore and fully understand your personal values and how they impact on your life choices, ambitions and current motivations.

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