Who are you? Look no further than your values

Who are you and what do you want?

Give yourself a few moments to think about it, and if you can, write down what comes to mind.

I admit I used to loathe when people asked me this question, and not because I thought they wanted to know too much, but because I didn’t actually know the answer to the question! The quickest things that would come to mind were my name, my age (if I felt like disclosing it), my job title, the city I lived in and that’s about it. Sound familiar?

I would leave those moments in frustration thinking to myself, “Geez, who am I and what am I all about and why is this question stumping me so much?!?”

I didn’t ask the question at the beginning of this post to trip you up, but to invite you to focus, even if only for a moment, to tune in to who you are at your core – the person beyond your job title, the city you live in and your relationship status. What’s important to you? What experiences do you seek? What legacy do you want to leave?

From what I’ve seen, too many of us don’t know who we are and what we want, because we’ve spent most of our lives being told who we should be and what we should want that when asked, we’re unable to articulate a response that’s clear, confident and that reflects our true substance. I would even argue that this also extends to businesses.

If this has you thinking, “Well, how do I begin to figure out who I am and what I want?” not to worry, because I have an exercise that will help you.

Values… why values?

One big step in figuring out who you are and what you want is identifying your values. Values help us to determine what’s important to us and serve as a blueprint for a fulfilling life. They’re unique to each individual – one person may value connection, freedom and abundance, while another may value solitude, influence and loyalty. The first person may be more inclined to be her own boss and like networking with a variety of people, while the second may prefer a position in an organization she can stay with for a long time and work independently. When we know what our values are, we’re informed and empowered to choose the career, experiences and people that invite more of what makes us feel good in our lives.

Discovering your values

Figuring out what your values are doesn’t have to be a laborious task. Ask yourself what you spend time doing that makes you feel good. On the flip side, ask yourself what experiences or behaviours really irk you. Jot your answers down. You’ll start to see a pattern develop. Perhaps you seek out thrilling activities like zip lining or boot camp, and so you may value adventure or intensity. Maybe you become livid when someone jumps the line at the grocery store or you see people get taken advantage of, and so you might value fairness or justice. A quick Google search for “list of values” will provide an abundance of words you can choose from to zero in on what’s important to you. This exercise is sure to serve you with an “aha” moment or two.

Putting your values into action

When we know what our values are, we become empowered to make conscious decisions about our lives. We’re far more easily able to define who we are, what we want and design a life filled with relationships, endeavours, and activities that honour what’s most important to us. The more we take steps to honour our values, the more we feel in tune with ourselves and live from an authentic space of joy. If it feels like a stretch to start putting your values into action, start small. The intention is not to jump from 0 to 100 and quit your job or end a relationship. Avoid thinking about making such drastic moves to start. Begin with one small step like putting aside 15 minutes of “me time” daily or sign up for that rock climbing club that meets once a month.

Closing words…

My most confusing moments about who I am and what I want have also been my unhappiest moments in life where I didn’t know my values (or temporarily strayed from them) – the job that no longer aligned with my value of autonomy, the relationship that didn’t click with my value of connection, the coaching program that didn’t speak to my value of creativity. When we find ourselves in a place of confusion, chances are we’re not in alignment with our values. Thankfully, we don’t have to go far to figure out what those are and make changes that get us back on track.

What’s one of your values and how will you make sure you’re honouring it going forward? Comment below and let us know!