Step 1: Know What You Value

In my previous post ” Where to Begin? “, I shared two critical steps in self-evaluation: “Know What You Value” and “Know How You Behave”. In this post, I’ll share some insights on clarifying the first step.

Know What You Value – The first step in personal growth is identifying “YOU”.  Although you may share some similarities with friends or relatives, your story is your own. Every experience, the books you’ve read, the movies you’ve watched, your relationships – all of these have contributed and helped shape who you have become.

A useful tool in clarifying those beliefs and values that define you, is called “Mind Mapping”. This is a way to uncover the repetitive underlying themes in your life.

First, set aside some time and a place where you can avoid distraction. Get comfortable. Have your favorite writing tool on hand- paper, post-it, white board, etc. Spend a few minutes thinking about your story; those moments that are deeply impressed in your memory, turning points, times when you felt vibrant.

Next, begin jotting down events, words, or even images that represent your story. Don’t be concerned about putting anything in order or in any particular fashion. Avoid editing your thoughts at this point. This is for your eyes only. Take your time and dig deep.

Once you feel ready to move on, take a few moments to think about the core values and beliefs you would like to be evident in your life. What are the words you would like to be used to describe you? What will you be when you are fully living as you hope to? Begin to write down the words, values and beliefs as they come to mind.

How’s it going so far?  Need to get up and stretch?

The next step is to examine the two pieces. Where do they line up? What patterns do you see emerging? Are there glaring gaps between the two? Really take time looking at what you wrote and consider what underlying beliefs led to some of your actions/decisions or prevented you from taking action. You may decide to sit on this for a few hours and come back to it.

Finally, after analyzing your thoughts, identify five to ten key beliefs/core values that represent your true self. Write them down on a fresh page and write a short definition for each. Keep it in a visible spot, to remind you of what is critical – especially when considering how you invest your limited time, energy and talent.

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