Posted 11/29/07 | Updated 7/2/20
Our values represent our internal mapping system, guiding us in our decisions and helping us to commit to our priorities. Values are different from morals because values are unique to you.
Your set of values is different than your best friend's, even though you may share some important ones. By identifying your values, you gain clarity about what works for you and what doesn't. Using them as navigating tools, you can make decisions according to who you are at your core, rather than who you think you should be.
When Lila brainstormed a list of her top ten values, she realized that she was living according to her purpose more than she thought. She also became clearer on what was important to her. From this clarity she was able to prioritize a very active life. She made sure that she had time to journal and create, and made the process of being coached a creative one. She put her values and her vision statement into a beautiful booklet that reminded her of her journey.
What do your values have to do with your writing? Your values guide you in your decisions, both big and small. They are the foundation of your writing because they represent the essence of what makes you unique. One of the challenges that writers face is fearing not having an original message to write about. When you know your values, you have a greater sense of your unique makeup and can use this when developing ideas and angles for your writing.
You are likely to enjoy yourself more when you are connected to your values. When you know your values you also will have a sense of when you are honoring them. This recognition connects you to your essence and allows you to have a greater sense of daily satisfaction. One value of mine is wordplay and love of language. When I am writing and experimenting with words, I am fully engaged, enjoying the process. I feel good about myself and know that I am honoring myself at my essence. Recognizing her values allowed Lila to focus on her writing and to choose subjects to write about that are more meaningful for her.
Values help you to know when things are flowing for you and when they are not. If your value of solitude is not being met, you may become cranky or irritable with your loved ones. This can be an indication that you need to honor that value more.
Exploring your values can be a fun process. Let it be a creative act for you. Here's an exercise will help you brainstorm a list of your values.
Think of a peak experience in your life when you felt good, really good. Write it down in a short story. Notice what made it special for you and pull a few values from that. For instance, a peak experience may have been a great river trip with friends, camping, good food, and storytelling around the campfire at night. Some values you can discern from this may include being in nature, intimate friendships, exercise, good food, and sharing.
Another way to look for values is to notice what you are really good at. You may be very organized in all areas of your life. This could point to a value of order or simplicity. Look at what is important to you or what you would not live without. Keep digging below the surface words that come up to find the essence of the value. Play around listing until you have ten or twelve values. You have many more but these give you a place to start.
Look at your values list and indicate which of your values pertain to your writing life. You can keep these values active by posting your list in your writing space, or by writing them in your notebook.
You may also want to write a story or do a free write about your values. Play with ways you could live your values more strongly. Ask yourself what would be different if you were living your values more fully.
Don't worry if this exercise is difficult for you. Exploring values asks you to look at yourself in a new way, and it can be challenging to dig below the surface to see what drives you. It's worth the effort because when we acknowledge our values, we have more range and depth for life and creating.
It helps to get support in the value identification process. Working with a coach is a powerful way to discover your values and take specific action toward living them more fully. I offer a Values Clarification service where I help you discover your values and put them on paper. Once your values are clear to you, writing and life can be more enjoyable and meaningful.
©2005 Cynthia Morris. All rights reserved.
Original Impulse Coaching's Cynthia Morris has been coaching writers, artists and entrepreneurs since 1999. more