“Try not to become a person of success but rather try to become a person of value.” – Albert Einstein
Every person has intrinsic value. Your very existence is a gift to the world, in ways you are not even aware of. This post is not about that kind of value. Rather it is about the conscious values you live by, which determine your character.
What are your values
“We can tell our values by looking at our checkbook stubs.” – Gloria Steinem
If asked what our values are, most of us give textbook answers. “God, family, and hard work.” “Contributing to my community.” However, our real values are not what we think they are. They are what guide our actual decisions. Here’s how to examine your true values.
1. Your expenditure
What are your top three expenditure items? We put our money where our hearts lie, and so what you choose to spend on are the things that are really important to you. If you spend a ton on books and courses, your value may be self-education and improvement. If the money went to clothes and handbags, you value appearance more.
2. Your time:
Look at your schedule. The things you set aside time for are those that really matter to you. Some parents are shocked when they realise they have not put aside any scheduled time for their children, even though they say their kids mean everything to them.
3. Your thoughts:
If you keep a journal, scan through your entries quickly see what has occupied your thoughts in the past few months. Or look at your goals in life. If you are aiming for career-related success, then financial well-being or social status could be your desired values.
Perceived and actual values
I used to think I valued time with my family. But a quick look in my journal revealed that I was spending my free time at Starbucks reading a book. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. I just came to realise that I really valued “me” time more.
There is nothing wrong with valuing “me” time. The underlying philosophy is that if I can sort myself out and be happy, that’s one person less the rest of the world needs to worry about. My love of reading and improvements to my thinking that brings about will also hopefully help someone someday.
“You will be as much value to others as you have been to yourself.” – Marcus T Cicero
Be a person of value
Accept yourself for whatever real values you hold. They are what make you who you are. Don’t feel that you “should” have other values instead.
At the same time, see if you want to make some lifestyle adjustments to follow more closely the values you hold dear. I now make it a point to schedule time with family, and brew my own coffee at home!
For a more detailed guide on how you can live a life of value, read The Values Factor: The Secret to Creating an Inspired and Fulfilling Life.