Everybody wants to be happy, but quite often we don’t even know what happiness looks like. Dig deep to find your personal values and your journey will really begin…
Wednesday, January 19th was the day that many people abandoned their New Year’s resolutions. According to a study conducted by fitness app Strava, this is the day that people most commonly quit. Why? There are a wide variety of reasons.
These include disappointment with their efforts so far… the stark realisation that changing requires serious commitment… time restraints and so on. In all likelihood, there is also the simple fact that it is easier to carry on with whatever you’ve done before than it is to forge ahead with something new. One of the reasons that resolutions fail, however, is that people don’t really understand what they want out of their life. Joining a gym or eating less chocolate are generally not what I would consider to be purpose-driven goals. To understand what resolutions you need to make in order to make your life better, you first need to understand what drives you.
The importance of personal values
You may have read a lot about values over the past few years. Businesses of every size have become obsessed with finding out what their values are and then advertising these to their customers.
There is certainly some merit to this if they are authentic, because a business with values is more likely to move forwards with a clear understanding of what makes the organisation tick. With people, values are rarely talked about unless you are prompted to pause and think about them. And I highly recommend that you do. Understanding your values can help you find your proverbial north star: your values will show you the way to contentment. Hypnotherapy is incredibly helpful when it comes to giving people the skills they need to cope with things that have been troubling them. But what it cannot do is show you what your values are.
Values are nonetheless discussed regularly during hypnotherapy sessions that I have with my clients – be that in-person or via hypnotherapy online – because they go hand in hand with what clients are trying to achieve. Pre-session, or at any time in your life, I believe that one of the best things that anybody can do is to take a moment to work out their values. In this blog post I will help you to do exactly that.
How to understand your personal values
Begin with a piece of paper and a pen. Put aside 10 or 15 minutes and try and give yourself a little peace and quiet and some clear headspace. You can look at several different areas when trying to ascertain your values: your career, your health, your relationship and your family life.
Start with just one of these and think about what you would like to feel in that area in order to be happy/fulfilled. If we take careers as an example, you may wish to feel valued, challenged or respected.
Remember, we are looking at what you want to feel – which means an emotion. If the ideas you are coming up with are something you can hold in your hand, such as a pile of cash, then these do not count. These are not your values. If we are looking at your life in general, then you might wish to feel joy, excitement or love. If we’re looking at health, it might be energetic, safe or relaxed. Write down all of the things that you want to feel.
Next, think about a period of time in your life when things were just about as good as it gets. Close your eyes and really try and get back into that moment. What did you feel? Add these emotions to the list you have already created and you will likely end up with around 30 to 40 words.
Whittling down your personal values list
To make this list more manageable, focus in on the eight words that are most meaningful to you. Rank them in order of importance from one to eight. What you will end up with is your own personal list of values. It’s likely that this will be the first time in your entire life that you truly understand what you stand for. It’s tempting to imagine that everybody’s values are broadly the same, but this is absolutely not the case.
Yes, some values crop up very regularly – such as love and joy. But equally you might be surprised to see that amazement or risk figure highly on your list.
It doesn’t matter which psychological approach you are coming from, whether that is hypnotherapy, CBT or psychodynamic therapy; anybody who works in these fields understands the importance of values. Because they’re the foundations on which each of us is built. Once you have your eight values, you can start to understand how much or how little you have been able to include the things that really matter to you in your life recently.
Take a specific period such as the past six months, and then ask yourself whether you have experienced those values in that time. This is a simple yes/no exercise. You will very quickly get an idea of the areas of your life that need work in order for you to feel fulfilled. You will also start to see where your energy will be best spent when it comes to coming up with New Year’s resolutions – or goals of any kind. That’s because your values are embedded into very fabric of your personal make up. These are the things that drive you. It stands to reason that if you have ample opportunity to live your values, contentment should follow.
A surprising discovery
Very often, people find that what they really need in their life is completely different to what they are currently experiencing – or what they thought they needed to pursue as a resolution. If this is the case, it’s the perfect opportunity to take time to reflect on how you can make your values a reality. In fact, a question that regularly comes up during my hypnotherapy sessions is: what do you need to do live your values?
That’s a really powerful question. Take a second to think about it.
Once you know where you want to go, there are tools you can use to help create a new habit of something. One of these is called a ‘SMART’ goal. I explain it in detail in this previous blog post.
Hypnotherapy is a also proven way to help people be more like the person they want to be. For example, it may be that respect is a key value for you, but you are a nervous public speaker. Being able to overcome your fear of public speaking through hypnotherapy may help you to achieve some of the respect you crave. Or perhaps excitement features prominently on your value list, but you are terrified of flying. Again, hypnotherapy can help to change this. Here you can find details of all of the treatments that I offer.
There is still time to make this year’s resolutions stick. But it all begins with understanding your values. Once you have uncovered them, it can feel like a really important part of your life has suddenly been opened up. Knowing your values means that you will have a much better chance of finding the goals that will make the biggest difference in your life.
And sticking with them. If you’d like to know how I can help you, then please do get in touch.