Do you know what your core values are? There’s what you say and there’s what you do. You can be clear with your core values by watching your actions. Do they match what you say your values are? If no, why not?
1. Values dictate behavior
Action is preceded by thought, whether those thoughts are conscious or subconscious. Your thoughts are filtered by your individual set of values and beliefs, which process through your neuropathways to help you arrive at the decisions you make for the actions you take.
According to social science, values are personal but also have a cultural element to help you understand what’s right and wrong; good and bad; important and unimportant. Values often bond people together and create the social norming systems of a culture.
It’s important to know which values you hold so that you can take intentional action. Studies state that values act as a guide for behavior and become central to your identity. When a value becomes central to your identity, that’s when it becomes a strong indicator of your behavior.
What this means is that if you want to become successful (as you define it), you need to have the values that the successful version of you has and make them key parts of your identity. For example, if the successful version of you values organization but you live in a cluttered mess, then you need to take time to get yourself organized and make it a priority. Actions can shape your values, and as you upgrade your behavioral standards, they dictate how you see yourself. To start this process, write out all of the values you believe the successful version of yourself to have. Save that to the side and read on.
“Good values are like a magnet – they attract good people.” – John Wooden
2. Behavior dictates success
Your behavior will show you where your identity and core values stand as of today. If you’re not sure which ones are important to you, look at your behavior. If you value convenience over effort, you’ll see a lot of clutter or sloppiness in your life. If you value growth over comfort, you’ll constantly challenge yourself and engage in activities that make your mindset expand. Your behavior will show you what values have become part of your identity.
Once you recognize which actions you’re engaging in regularly, you can identify the values and beliefs that those behaviors are running on. Make a list of the current values and beliefs coming up for you. Looking at that second list, you can compare them to the list you created for the future version of yourself.
What do the lists have in common? What differences exist between the two lists? Honing in on the commonalities and differences gives you a clear indication of where you need to put the effort in for cultivating new or stronger values that become part of your identity.
3. Focus and support
Your values are the consistent indicators of what your focus centers on, which allows you to make more conscious decisions that can lead to success. When you’re facing decisions or actions, a good way to draw your attention back to your own success is to ask yourself, “Is this choice aligned with the success I want and the values I hold or not?” That answer will help you make stronger decisions that help you achieve your goals.
Likewise, they also help you bond with other people. You’ll often work with people who have similar values. If one of your core beliefs and values is elevating others, then you’re more likely to work with people who will elevate you. Having a support system that understands and honors your values will help you stay on track for success.
“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” – Roy E. Disney
4. Building new values
Creating a new system requires a bit of discipline. You have to give space for the new behaviors and thought patterns to happen while catching the old ones before they sabotage you.
In order to do that, you have to be conscious of what you want to change and actively choose new actions for habits that were likely automatic before. The more you implement these changes, the more natural they’ll become for you. That’s how the new values become part of your identity, which leads to success when those changes are in alignment with your goals.