Discovering your core personal values will change your life. Knowing them will enable you to break free from the real or perceived expectations you feel from others, and to find the life that is right for you and your family, to begin to make decisions and prioritize life areas consistently, in a way that takes you toward the goals that really matter to you and your family. For more on why they are important, check out my 6 reasons that you should identify them.
For the next 10 days, pick one of the following life categories each day and journal about two things: past events in that area of life, and then your current circumstances and future goals.
- Think of a meaningful or emotionally charged event in your past related to that topic. Focus on times you were happy, proud, or feeling especially fulfilled and content about the outcome. Ask yourself what you were trying to accomplish and what you wanted to avoid. Why was the experience meaningful? Is there anything about it you miss or would like to repeat? Reflect and write down what you remember, and then look for any words that sum up your feelings in a word or phrase.
- Reflect on what that category of life is like for you in your current season. What do you like about it? What do you wish could be different? What are your hopes or dreams? What goals would you like to set? What would you like this part of your life to look like in 5 years?
This exercise is broken up into small pieces to encourage you that it can fit into a hectic life, and that you don’t have to find a chunk of time in order to get to it. If you have the time however, you can do as many categories at once as you have time for. Then just pick up where you left off. If you don’t know how you’ll find time for it, just do one category each morning or evening. You really can work on value discovery in 10-15 min a day.
Here are the 10 categories, with some questions to get you started.
Recreation and Hobbies
How did I play when I was a kid?
What do I find refreshing?
What does fit and healthy mean for me and my body?
When in my life did I feel the most healthy and fit? When did I feel at peace with my body even though I was less fit?
Living Environment and Pace of Life
What is my favorite place I have lived in? What did I love about it?
What words do I want to describe my home [link to post]
Family and Children
What ideas did I have about family when I was young? How has that changed?
What do I want our family culture to be?
When I was young, what did I look forward to about marriage?
What are the primary gifts and strengths that I bring to my marriage?
When have I felt like I was stuck or stagnating? What made me feel that way?
When have I felt alive and thriving? Why did I feel happy and fulfilled?
How do I feel about how i’ve used money in the past?
What do I want money to enable me to do?
Work and Professional Development
What was a job I’ve had that I loved? Why did I feel that way?
What is essential for me to flourish in a career?
Church and Spiritual Life
What meaningful experiences have I had at church in the past?
How do I contribute to the church?
Community and Social Stewardship
What was a time in the past that I felt like I really belonged with a group?
What are characteristics of friendships that have been the most meaningful to me?
Bringing it all together
What stuck out to you as you reflected on these questions? Were there any recurring themes that kept coming back up? What made you smile when you recalled the memory? Did anything make you anxious?
Once you’ve gone through all 10 life categories and made notes about meaningful events from the past, and your life now, go through and look for common themes, and take all of the words and phrases you identified as important and make a list of them.
At this point you might want to refer to this master list of popular values. Look through and circle all of the words that came up in your notes. You may find groups of related words that you like. Identify all of those and then see if there are one or two that you like the most, that best represent that idea for you.
Finetune your notes into 5-10 ideas and then find a time to talk to your husband about them. Get his thoughts on the values you’ve identified. He’ll be able to help you personalize these for your family, and he’ll have his own details to add that will make these shared values and unique to your family.
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