Today we explore one the most potent fuels for Work-Life Balance: Knowing what’s most important to you.
At any point in time, we each have our own particular recipe for life, made up of the things that matter most to us, our values. Our values help us make choices about what we commit to and define the qualities that make us who we are. They’re the driving force behind why we do what we do.
The degree to which we honour our core values is a significant factor in our work-life balance, how easy it is to take action, and how well our decisions support the direction we want to go in.
Tip #8 For balance, move towards the point where what you do and how you do it are in line with your values
Values are not material things like “car”, “family” “holiday” and “£x thousand pound salary.” Our values describe what we get from these things, what makes them important for us. So for example, a car may give us a sense of status, success, luxury, safety; our salary may represent security or freedom – those kind of things are the values.
The pecking order of these values will also have a big effect on our choices, and how sustainable our balance is. Actions and decisions that are consistent with our values are easier to address. Actions and decisions that threaten one of our values can leave us feeling stuck, angry, choosing to procrastinate or do nothing, and experiencing every kind of Yuk! you can imagine.
In short, a whole bunch of things get easier by making choices and taking actions that are in line with our values.
Tip #9 Be clear about your values, and decision making becomes a whole lot easier.
So, how clear are you about what your values are?
You can spot your values by thinking about things that make you really happy (when you are receiving something that you value) and when you’re livid (someone or something has just stomped all over one of your values).
If you’re not clear or it’s been a while since you thought about your values, here’s a little exercise to that’ll help – just click on the Values link to see or download the document.
This is a quick, instinctive exercise. Get a first impression of the values that guide you, then read on to see how they can help your work-life balance:
How to use your values for work-life balance
If you are currently experiencing an area of difficulty, it could be because there’s something you currently need that you are not valuing highly enough (e.g. financial security, time, fun, love…) or have not addressed in a way that suits you.
Someone experiencing dissatisfaction with their finances may have values like generosity, fun and spontaneity way higher up their value hierarchy than for example, financial security, comfort or personal development.
What do I do?
You do not have to change your values! They are part of what makes you tick, and trying to be something you’re not – well, you can imagine what that might do to your balance! What you may want to do is to increase your focus on a particular value, or move its position within the hierarchy. But if that doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
You can also use you current values to come to the aid of the “problem” area, by looking for a solution that fits your values. So in our example above, we’d be looking to improve the financial situation in a way that feels generous, fun and provides plenty of opportunities for spontaneity. What would that look like?
Tip #10 Respect your values and use them to help your balance
So, to entirely misquote JFK: Ask frequently what your values can do for you – and what you can do for your values!
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