- When life becomes overwhelming, it helps to consult your personal value system, which outlines your priorities and guides your actions.
- Your personal values also help to determine what kind of people you keep around, what purpose you seek, and how you treat others.
- To create a healthy personal value system, you must evaluate the main areas of life: environment, career, fun, romance, personal growth, money, health, friends and family.
- Rate each area in terms of how important it is to your life and then rate it each area again in terms of how fulfilled you feel in it right now.
- Compare these charts to decide on a healthy personal value system moving forward, one that will reflect your priorities and assist you in living a meaningful life.
It’s almost time to go home. Only two more weeks until vacation. I can make it to the weekend. I’ll get by okay. I’ll make it through. Ever felt like this? I know you have; we all have. Everything piles up. Work, school, doctor visits, chores, bills. And too often, we let this mess clutter our minds and completely rule our lives—which is a big problem. Fortunately, there’s an effective solution to this problem: putting a healthy personal value system in place. A personal value system is made up of principles that guide your behavior and ultimately the direction of your life. It doesn’t just provide structure, but a purpose. Kailee Place, a licensed professional counselor, delves deeper into the functionality of personal value systems:
“Having a personal value system is incredibly important for our lives as these values set the tone for decisions we make, the people we have in our lives, what purpose we decide to partake in, and how we treat people, to name a few. Without a stable core set of values to live from, there can be a lot of confusion and ambiguity. Our values set boundaries for us. For example, your values surrounding family helps guide whether you stay in your hometown or move away, whether you’ll want a lifelong companion, if you’ll want kids or not, and if so, how many, or how much time you spend at work versus at home.
Values may be flexible and take time to develop or further narrow as we experience life, but building a general outline of what matters to you to your core grants you the ability to live a life you feel confident about. You make choices that sit comfortably with you versus feeling confused, guilty, or conflicted. A value system gives you a set of guidelines to follow in your daily life. And as much as we don’t like to admit it, people truly do like having rules to follow. These are just rules you decide for yourself in order to lead a life you’re happy about.”
What Matters Most to You?
To create your own personal value system, you have to consider what matters most to you. Professionals typically divide life into eight major areas, of which we have to fulfill to some degree to live happily. These include:
- Personal growth
- Friends and family
Consult the list above and decide which areas of life are most important to you. For example: Would you rather work long hours to get that promotion or do you care more about spending valuable time with friends and family? Are you set on living somewhere you can make a lot of money or would you rather live in a town you truly enjoy? Don’t get me wrong: you don’t have to choose between one or the other (e.g. career vs. friends and family). But it helps to rate each area in terms of what matters most. It also helps to rate each area in terms of how fulfilled you feel right now. Then, you can combine both scores to create a healthy personal value system that’ll best benefit you moving forward.
Action Expresses Priorities
Now, do your actions support your priorities (of which you’ve just determined above)? Your values are put on display for the whole world to see every single day. Sarah Boettner—a licensed clinical counselor, licensed social worker, and integrative health coach—further explains how our behaviors are impacted by our personal value systems, as well as how these values have a positive impact on our wellbeing when they reflect your true priorities:
“Having a value system is what guides us. The things that we mark as most important in our lives color the behaviors we engage in and the decisions we make. Our values are influenced by our childhood experiences and by our environment. The difference is in having a healthy value system versus a value system that may be destructive or damaging.
Having a healthy value system creates a system of boundaries that guides the individual as they navigate everyday life. For example, an individual that places great importance upon family time will adjust their schedules to ensure that they spend significant time and energy into sustaining those relationships versus pursuing financial gain or entertainment. This, in turn, promotes positive emotions in thinking about their family and reinforces their value of family. Healthy values are ones that promote positivity, balance, healthiness, and happiness within the individual’s life as well as those around them. Since we as individuals are not islands, what we do, what we say, has impacts upon those around us. The more we live true to our personal values, the greater the impact we have on our moods, decision-making, and surroundings.”