Using your values to build a satisfying life
Each one of us will have our own view on what makes for a satisfying life. This is because we have unique personalities and value systems that guide our choices and make our lives personally meaningful. When we can choose the work we do, set goals, relate to others and develop ourselves in line with our values, we are rewarded with experiences that satisfy us.
Some people might measure life satisfaction predominantly by how much money and possessions they have, whereas others might give more importance to the balance between their work and home lives, how much time they have to pursue their passions or to help others. How satisfied you are with your life will largely depend on whether you are able to do the things that are important to you.
Research is revealing that living a meaningful life guided by values is much more fulfilling than chasing fame and fortune and short-lived pleasures. If you can identify your values and use these as a compass to guide you in life, then there is a good chance your sense of life satisfaction will increase.
If you need a little help identifying your values, then follow my five tips below. To get the most out of this values exercise, set aside half an hour, minimise any distractions and make some notes that you can refer to when you need to remind yourself what really matters.
- Start by asking yourself these questions. What matters most to me in this world? What do I want to stand for in life? What am I doing when I feel most satisfied with life?
- Picture yourself five years from now. Imagine that over the course of those five years you have been able to live the life you want with the guarantee that the people around you will love and respect you for who you are. Free from the worry of what other people might think, what does your life look like?
- Consider your heroes. Think about three people that you look up to. What is it about them you admire or aspire to? Do they have particular strengths or qualities that reflect your own values?
- Imagine you could wave a magic wand that would get rid of your problems (e.g. anxiety, low confidence, relationship problems etc.). With your problems gone, what would you be doing differently? How would you treat other people differently? How would you treat yourself differently?
- Imagine listening to your own eulogy. This might sound a bit morbid and the thought of our own mortality can be unsettling, but this can be highly revealing when it comes to identifying values. The idea here is to consider how you want to be remembered. How would you like to have made a difference to others? What do you want your legacy to be?
Once you have identified your values using the steps above, ask yourself whether you are living your life in accordance with these values. Identify where the gaps are between where you are now and where you want to be. Use this information to guide you in the direction you want to travel in pursuit of what is meaningful to you.