A key area in our self-knowledge is becoming aware of our core values. Knowing our core values or what's most important to us is extremely relevant to creating goals, setting priorities, and managing our time. Most of us have priorities in the areas of:
Knowing what's most important to us provides a blueprint and direction in our lives. When we know our core values and how to rank them, we'll have solid idea about where we'll commit blocks of our energy and time. Less important areas can be set aside or dropped from our schedules. When we have to make choices between activities, we'll have our core values and their ranking to guide us in our decisions and goal making.
Uncovering Your Core Values
1. Gently pinch your right nostril shut and take 12 full inhalations and exhalations from your left nostril only. When you are done, remove your hand from your nose and return to regular breathing. Allow your jaw to sag, your tongue to relax, and all the muscles in your face to sag and relax. Notice which half of your body is more relaxed than the other. Proceed to step 2.
2. Imagine yourself in your mid eighties looking back over your life and enjoying how full it is and was. Taking your time to reflect, what did you enjoy doing most? What gave you the most pleasure and turned you on? What felt like the most meaningful things you accomplished? What did you enjoy doing with friends and family? Jot your answers down on a piece of paper or two. Keep your statements brief.
3. Imagine yourself in a ward for the incurables. The doctors just informed you that you will be dead within the next 4 months. They say during the next four months you can lead a full and regular physical life. What would you want to do your last four months? Are there any experiences you would enjoy having? What would be meaningful? Jot your answers down on a piece of paper. Keep your statements brief.
4. Imagine yourself in a giant library filled with books on every conceivable subject known to humanity. Go from shelf to shelf and pick out those books that most interest you. Place them on a cart. Now jot down the titles of those books on a piece of paper. Are there values inherent in those titles? Jot them down.
5. After finishing the 3 imaginal exercises you will have collected 3 sets of answers. Compare and contrast the answers. What does your intuition say about your answers? Perhaps ask your body how you feel about each answer. Get an overall felt sense of your feeling responses to saying each answer to your body. As you mull over your values you may notice a shift in your feelings toward them. Some things may seem more important.
Hierarchy Of Values
You have a list of values you obtained from doing the three imaginal exercises. Take that list and make a hierarchy of values, listing your highest values at the top of the list. Look over the list and juggle it around until it falls in line with your intuitive sense of things. Later this list will be a useful tool in deciding between priorities or what's most important for you.
Here's a sample "Hierarchy of Values":
1. Emotional growth/well-being.
1. Creative outlets.
7. Leisure time.
9. Social causes.
Have fun, Steve