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Define your values for the next stage of life

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Define your values for the next stage of life

Our values and beliefs play an integral role in who we are as human beings, writes STEVE MENDL. Together they are like an internal compass that evolves as we go through life, whether we are consciously aware of them or not.

Some values and beliefs are useful, some not so useful, and others can leave us in a double bind that is hard to break.

The purpose of this article is to provide you with the kind of knowledge few people have of themselves. More to the point, it is about getting clear on what is important to you – your personal life values. By doing so, you:

1.  Get comfortable in your own skin as you move into the next stage of life;

2.  Set the foundations for designing what you want moving forward; and

3.  Give yourself the opportunity to leave your work identity behind.

So, what are your values? Simply put, they are what is important to you.

While many people think they know what’s important to them, they don’t often stop, sit down and think about what their core values are.

We are going to get clear on your values so that you become more aware of them. This will allow you to see how they show up in your life on a day-to-day basis, how you can prioritise them, and how you can take them into consideration when planning the next stage in your life.

The most important thing to realise when you’re dealing with values is that they belong to you, not to anyone else. Though they may have been influenced by your upbringing and life experiences, they do not belong to your mother or any other people who might have played a significant role in your life.

Your values must belong to you! So in this space, I encourage you to be quite “self-ish” and look at your life through your own eyes.

My research over the past 20 years indicates that you can have anywhere up to 420 different defined values, covering everything from your attitude to money to the way you have approached your career.

Here’s an abbreviated list to get the ball rolling: Achievement, diversity, challenge, stability, family, friendship, connection, creativity, gratitude, love, happiness, independence, legacy, peace, recognition, respect, sexiness, routine, trust, variety, wealth and wisdom.

As you plan to move out of fulltime employment and into the next stage of your life, you have an opportunity to define your values and label each value on the list provided with one of the following:

CV for Core Value (always value)

OV for Often Value

SV for Sometimes Value

NV for Never Value

By doing this, you begin to get a clear idea of your values and it is from your shortlist of Core Values and Often Values that you can select your top 10 values.

Allow some time to do this. Many clients have told me over the years that this can be quite hard as they sort through their options.

I suggest being “self-ish” here, as you really think about what is important to you at this time. Go with your gut – there doesn’t have to be a logical reason..

Once you have your top 10 values, the next step is to rank them in order of importance at this point in time.

Start by asking yourself: If I could choose only one value from my list of 10 to live out in the next stage of my life as I see it today, which one would it be? This may take some thinking … go for it now!

Action: Write down your top 10 life values (in order from most important to least important to you at this time)

Congratulations! Welcome to a new world of understanding and insight into who you are and what is important to you. Few people on the planet are consciously aware of their values.

It means you are taking actions and making decisions that are in your best interests. You know why they are important to you. The real point is that you start to own what you do and you do it with an underlying purpose. This is a very empowering process.

It’s important to understand and appreciate that, over time, your values may change. Different things are important to somebody who’s just finished their education to someone looking at leaving full-time employment.

That uniqueness is yours; hold on to it. Hold on to what’s important to you right now and revisit your list often, to see if things may have changed.

Most importantly, the values you’ve selected belong to you, as do the definitions.  Owning your values is key to really owning your life moving forward.

 Steve Mendl is the author of Beyond the Money and specialises in career to retirement transition.

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