Most of the time when we feel lost, unhappy, unbalanced, or unfulfilled, it is because we sense that something is missing in our lives. More often than not, this is because our values have not been met or they are simply unclear.
Your values are your life's compass.
Our values guide our decisions, motivate us, make us happy, and play a fundamental role in our level of satisfaction—in everything we do and live by.
For instance, if fun, freedom, communication, growth, love, and work are your key values, and any one of these is not being fulfilled, you might feel stagnant, bored, and detached. Even if you love your career, you won't be happy or feel fulfilled if you're not honoring all of your primary values.
These values play the same roles in your relationships and personal growth. You need fun, freedom, communication, growth, and a lot of love in order to feel complete.
Our values guide our behaviors, too. For example, let's consider someone who travels often. Through my professional life coaching career, I have worked with many clients, one of whom told me that since graduating from school, she had been traveling constantly. She would work four to five months a year and travel the rest of the time.
When we did a Value Elicitation exercise, I found out that she was constantly seeking freedom when she traveled because that need wasn't being met in her life when she wasn't traveling. Freedom was missing in her relationship with her boyfriend, and in the city where she lived, she didn't feel like herself.
She didn't have the freedom to be who she wanted to be. She had to behave in a certain way to fit in. At work, she was no longer mentally stimulated. So, through traveling, she found her own sense of freedom.
Another client of mine had growth as one of his top five values and wasn't experiencing that. He wasn't moving up the career ladder and had not received a promotion in years. It was a revelation for him to acknowledge that growth was a core value. He recognized that his priority should be to chase that growth in his career.
He learned new skills, became specialized in his job, and was promoted to a new position in the company. As his life coach, we worked out the following. If you can work these things out for yourself, you'll be equipped to build a much happier, more fulfilling life.
1. What are your top five core values?
2. Which of these values is not being acknowledged and honored in your life?
3. What steps can you take to changing that?
When our values/needs are met, we feel great. When they aren't, we feel lost. That's why it's so important for us to be aware of what our core values are and to work toward meeting them.
If you're not sure where to start, here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help bring them to the surface.
1. What is important to me in a relationship?
Start by asking yourself what you need in a relationship. What can you compromise on and what is nonnegotiable? Your mind will immediately seize upon a crucial value such as trust. So, you know trust is a top value for you.
2. What is more important to me than trust (if anything)?
Think a little deeper. Is there a value that is more important to you than trust in your relationship? Is it passion?
3. Rinse and repeat.
Keep on collecting the values that are important to you until you find your single-most important value. Your core value/need—there's nothing more important than this value—it might be peace, love, or happiness.
4. List your top five values in order of importance.
Go through the list and determine whether these core needs are being met in your life. Then explore ways you might move toward creating more space for them. It will only serve to make you feel more peaceful and balanced.
5. Anytime you feel uncomfortable, unhappy, or unbalanced, come back to this list.
Check if one of your values isn't being attended to, and ask yourself what needs to change in your environment in order to fix the imbalance.
All kinds of things can hold us back from meeting our values. Often, these come in the form of limiting or disempowering beliefs. These beliefs can be like roadblocks—you can stumble across them and they can prevent you from reaching your goals or meeting your needs. An awareness of both your values and potential stumbling blocks allows you to work consciously to turn these limiting beliefs into empowering beliefs. And that's the first step to creating limitless fulfillment.