Katie Hoch recently hosted a workshop on clarifying your values. She wove together several activities such as a values word sort and guided imagery. I’ve participated in several of these activities before, however, never during a pandemic, economic downturn and global social justice marches with calls for action. It was an awakening to explore my values during this time in history.
Each participant culled through a list of values words to create a list of top 10 most important values. The list included words such as: acceptance, beauty, challenge, compassion, dependability, family, health, justice, leisure, purpose, safety, tolerance and world peace. We were instructed to reduce our list of 10 values to the top five critical values. She referenced the a compass as a way for discerning our top five values.
After we selected our top five words,we discussed what was easy and what was hard about this activity.Everyone in the group had to wrestle with their values in the current context of our times. We discussed the values that ground us, act like a compass to set our direction and identify our way of being in the world. We were challenged by the words on the list that felt like “should” be on my list and “have to” be on my list. This led to a rich conversation about the difference between a value and a goal.
Values are “like a compass that keep us headed in a desired direction and are distinct from goals. Goals are the specific ways you intend to execute your values. A goal is something that we aim for and check off once we have accomplished it. Being responsible is a value. Owning a home is a goal.
Goals that flow from values are inherently more meaningful and more likely to be achieved than those picked at random or those selected because you think you should focus on them. Understanding the value behind a goal allows you to make choices and engage in behaviors in any moment that are in line with what you have determined is important to YOU.
As a final activity we were invited to picture our 80th birthday parties. Who would be invited? Where would it be held? During the toasts how would you want the guests to describe how you lived your values or the role that you have played in their life? I wondered….how would people remember me from 2020?
I reviewed my values list and realized that my values were indeed shaping how I was responding to these critical times in American history. And, that I did not need to judge my values and add some words from the “should” column. I only need to embrace the words that ground me. I can then empower the values to help me live an authentic life and reach my goals, in 2020 and beyond.
What are your core values? How are you engaging them in 2020? How do you want to be remembered at your 80th birthday party?