Hi, Cheryl! I believe you are making it much more complex than it actually is. And complexity is what stops most people from taking action.
There are two things you should do to make it extremely simple:
- Give up on getting it right from the first time and give up on perfection.
- Commit to a long-term success instead of chasing short-term outcome.
With these as pre-requisites, anyone can get much closer to living a meaningful life in just an hour.
First, figuring out your values.
For next hour forget all the beliefs about what kind of values you must have. We all are exposed to the constant barrage of “personal development” information. This doesn’t help with clarity because it is hard to sort valuable advice from collections of profound bullshit if you aren’t used to it. Also, suspend all kind of judgements about your values. Moral or any other kind of judgements will interfere with your attempts to be honest with yourself.
Take a pen and a piece of paper. Let’s go.
We will start with negative first.
- Remember a case where you were strongly upset. Why was it?
- If you were upset, that means one (or more) of your values was hurt or endangered. What was it?
- Write it down.
- Try to simplify it to one or two words. Do not generalise. For example — don’t put “health” when what you really care about is being attractive, or being able to move as you like.
- Let’s now check if that’s a “preservation” or “aspiration” value. Preservation means that you don’t care about having more of it as long as you have enough. Like comfort or health. Aspiration means that you want to pursue and have more of it in your life.
This is only a question how you feel. Put a “P” or “A” against it. It is likely that at this part of the exercise you’ll get mostly “P values.
- Repeat until you get a list of at least 10–15 values
Now moving to positive ones. The process is very similar.
- Remember a situation where you felt really moved, motivated, inspired or in awe. Why?
- That would mean that in this situation one or more of your (usually aspirational) values were satisfied or present. What was it?
- Write it down.
- Try to simplify it to one or two words.
- Put a “P” or “A” against it.
- Repeat until you get at least 10–15.
Now, look at these two lists. Certainly, you start to notice patterns.
Pick 5–7 items from your lists which seem to be most empowering or comforting to you (you should have both P’s and A’s on this list) and circle them. Now take a blank A4 and write in large letter - on top: “How can I act in accordance to:” and below write down your selected values. Put that somewhere where you will see it a few hundred times a day.
Ok. The first step is done. All you need now is to review and correct your list periodically to make it as close to your real values. Remember to remove your “false beliefs” from this list. I.e. things that “you are supposed to value” but don’t really value.
Just with this, you will get much closer to living your life according to your values than many people ever would.
Second part is how to align your actions, but that’ll take another article. :)