We build our lives around what we value most, and whilst some things shouldn’t change too much, like our values and principles, our priorities do.
In order to centre your life around what’s most important to you, it’s important to take time out every now and then to do a self-check and evaluate whether your life is in line with this.
What are your values?
You may already have an idea of what your values are, but it can be eye-opening to actually sit down and properly go through them to see whether you are living your life in line with them.
To do this, think about a few achievements you are really proud of, and things you have done that made you feel happy. What values were you putting into action then? Were you being creative, practical, or super disciplined?
Some values that you may have include:
As you note each value, ask yourself these questions:
- Are they in line with how I want to live my life?
- Would I be proud to tell people that these are my values?
- Even if some are not popular, do I still support them?
Once you have a list of your values, it’s time to put them in order. To begin, pick your two most important values and compare them so you know which you value most. Think about situations where you may have to pick one over the other. For example, loyalty to a friend may mean making a commitment to driving them to work for a week when their car breaks down. Are you willing to sacrifice some independence for that? Ask yourself such questions as you work your way down the list until you have a list of your values in order of their importance to you.
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Do the things in your life matter to you?
First things first: write down the major things going on in your life. A helpful way to do this is to sort them into categories like Personal, Family, Health, and Work/Career.
Now, go through everything on this list and ask yourself these questions:
- Does this improve my life?
- Is this really important to me?
- Does this have a positive impact on my life?
- Does this make me happy or is it helping someone I love?
- Would I still do this if I only had a month to live?
If you answer ‘yes’ to four or all of these, then you’re on the right track, but if you’ve said ‘no’ to two or more of these questions, then it’s time to seriously ask yourself whether you should continue doing this thing.
Your next steps
If you have gone through all of these steps, you should understand what actually matters to you now. But you can take this one step further.
For those things in your life that you’ve now realised don’t actually matter to you, think about how you can reorient them. If it is something that you absolutely have to do - like holding down a job that doesn’t make full use of your skill set to pay the bills - then think about how you can make changes. Could you learn more skills, try something different like asking for different work responsibilities, or make other adjustments in your life so that you could do less of this thing?
And now, for the last and really important bit. Look at your values, and see which ones you’re not actively incorporating into your life.
Perhaps creativity is important to you, but you’re not actively engaging in a creative activity often. Could you set aside an hour each week to hone your craft? Or maybe you could find like-minded people you could share your creativity with? If faith is important to you, you could join a Bible study, or even just spend a few minutes each day working on your faith.
Here’s the gist
Your life should be centred around what matters most to you, not things you think you should be doing. The first step is to actually think about your values and what brings you joy. Once you have worked that out, look at what’s in your life right now, and think about whether they are in line with your values. Lastly - and this is the crucial bit - evaluate how you can change your life so that you spend less time on the things that you don’t value, and more time on the things that do matter.