The root of finding fulfillment and being true to yourself is understanding your own personal values at a deep and fundamental level. When you honor your values, you find satisfaction in what you are doing and feel at peace. On the contrary, when your values are violated, you may feel angry or deeply frustrated.
How can you discover your values? One way is to look at list of values and try to select those that speak to you, and then keep shortening the list until you are down to the most important 5 and prioritizing those. You can also look at moments in your life when you felt most fulfilled, satisfied and full of purpose and ask yourself which values were being honored. Conversely, when you think of times you were angry, you can ask yourself which values were being violated.
I noticed this myself when I found myself getting angry over trying to change an airline ticket to go home about 12 hours earlier than planned, and being asked to pay more than 3x what the original ticket had cost for the pleasure of doing so. When I looked closely at my reaction I realized that I have a strong value around fairness, and this situation just felt inherently unfair, and that was the basis for my anger.
Keep a list of your values and once you have the top five, try sorting them in order of importance. Which one must you honor above all others? Which one would keep you from being happy were it violated? Once you have a top value, which one would come next? And so forth.
These Values help you quickly assess opportunities, people, projects and environments which will serve you and those which will conflict with your core values. Here’s one list of possible values, but you may find others fit more closely for you – feel free to add your own words and explore what feels right for you.
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