5 Steps to Define Your Personal Values | Live With Purpose

Personal values are ethical principles that form your internal beliefs about what is good and important to you. They are what you stand for, your viewpoints, and your outlook on life.

They define you as a person, guide your decision-making, and help determine how to conduct yourself. You manifest them in your personality traits, the way you behave alone and with others.

Is it possible to define your personal values?

Of course, but few take the time for conscious reflection to do so. Most of our values have developed unconsciously and automatically. Many of them are not truly ‘ours.’happy-family-at-beach

They are a conglomerate of what impressed us in our formative years, modified by our own experiences as we progress through life. Sometimes our values can be an absolute rejection of what our early experiences were. Values of this nature are often far more consciously determined, often due to abusive or uncaring beginnings.

Personal values provide us with our understanding of what is right and what is wrong, our moral compass. It’s called our conscience. It speaks to us, whether it condemns or praises us. Does it bother you if you don’t tell the truth? If so, you have a guilty conscience. It acts as your judge to keep your behaviors aligned with your values.

What are the moral values that you might think will influence your priorities in life? There are quite a few, and may include the following:

  •       Love
  •       Honesty
  •       Forgiveness
  •       Freedom
  •       Respect for life
  •       Self-control
  •       Courage
  •       Humility
  •       Equality
  •       Acceptance
  •       Kindness
  •       Generosity
  •       Integrity
  •       Resilience 

What Are the Steps in Defining Your Core Values? 

Stay mindful of your actions

You encounter many daily situations that cause you to react or say something. Don’t just dive into them immediately with an unconscious response. Momentarily, stand back and assess what best to do for a particular circumstance. You have intelligence, so use it and not your instinct. You should use your superego (Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of personality) to act morally.

Is it wise to think, “Go with your heart” or “If you feel it’s right, then do it”? No, because this line of thinking can prove to be treacherous. You are acting with your emotions, and that is unreliable. It is not thinking but non-thinking. On the other hand, your values are the products of your thinking ability, of your reasoning power. It is what you decide to do and not what your primitive, impulsive, instinctive gut instinct is telling you.

Understand your motivation

What motivates you to tell the truth? Is it to continue the values which your parents taught you in childhood? Or do you get self-satisfaction when you’re honest in all your dealings? When you understand the reason why you act the way you do, then your values become more structured and clearer to you.

Cultivate your moral compass

The feeling of guilt tells you that your conscience is sensitive to your wrongdoing. Otherwise, you will not feel anything when you lie. It’s a sign that urges you to correct the mistake that you made. So, listen to your conscience. When you do, you further develop that ideal trait.  

Evaluate the consequences

You need to learn to identify your options. To lie or not to lie, to act nobly or dishonestly, those are your options. Then weigh the pros and cons of your options. Just knowing right from wrong is not enough. You need to follow through with the idea with action. You must understand and appreciate the benefits of being honest and the consequences of being dishonest.

Reflect on your past

When you reflect on the mistakes of your youth, you learn life lessons. Why? You will have been in a situation where you made a poor choice and suffered the consequences. Have your parents grounded you for being late? Similarly, as an adult, when you’re late reporting to your job, you must accept the consequences of your actions.

Your boss might be angry or dissatisfied with your job performance. If tardiness is habitual, you might lose your job in the end. You can resolve to improve yourself by getting up earlier (using an alarm clock) and better managing your time so you won’t need to rush. The values you’re nurturing are punctuality, and time-management, and respect for others.

Why Is It Important to Have Well-Defined Moral Values?

It is said that social values are changing with time. Maybe for some, but not for all. This is a subjective call because everybody’s memory is imperfect. What matters is your values – if you become successful, will you disregard your values, such as courage and resiliency, which helped get you where you are now? The answer lies within you. But remember that a strong person possesses deep-rooted moral values that don’t shift on a whim.

A well-defined set of moral values is important because it gives you a code of ethics. It keeps you grounded, centered, and focused in your thoughts, words, and actions. Your values guide the decisions that you make and fuel the actions that follow. When faced with difficult situations, having sound moral values will help you stay on the right path and make sure that your decisions are in line with what is right. Moral values also serve as a guide to ensure that you act responsibly and treat others with respect. They help to protect you from making poor choices or being taken advantage of by someone who has ill intentions.

Having well-defined moral values is an essential part of life. It gives you a code of ethics to live by, keeps you on the right path, and helps to protect you from making poor choices. Moral values also help to ensure that you act responsibly and treat others with respect. So, take time to reflect on your values and strive to become the best version of yourself.

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