If I mentioned the word alignment to my family, it would conjure up images of automobile tires and suspensions. For me, alignment has deeper meaning. It involves living my life aligned with my core values.
My core values are learning, renewal, integrity, creativity, social justice, and connection. I am a learner at heart. I have been since I was three years old, when I asked my mother if I could go to writing school. It’s why I work in higher education. Renewal is closely entwined with learning because I am curious about my physical and emotional health, so I investigate ways to maximize my potential. My core values of integrity and social justice are closely tied to aspects of my personality. I firmly believe there are ways to do things that contribute to the greater good and make the world a better place for everyone, rather than for just a select few. Lastly, I feel most alive when I am creating new things whether that be a blog post, a new program, or a scrapbook page. I demonstrate connection through my commitment to my family, friends, colleagues, and community.
Why do values matter? They serve as a compass when making decisions. They help us clarify what is important, what goals to set, and how we spend our time and energy. They help us establish priorities. The more important a value is to us, the more likely we are to behave in ways that are consistent with that value. When our behaviors and actions are in line with our values, we feel true to ourselves. According to the authors of Understanding and Clarifying Your Values, knowing your values is an important component to living a life of integrity. The benefits of living a life aligned with your core values is a feeling of authenticity.
When I am angry, it is usually because a core value has been compromised. In a recent heated conversation about money, I stopped in the middle of the conversation, took a deep breath, and explained how my core values felt threatened which caused me to get emotional. Feeling irritated and pissed off? Take a step back and reflect how the issue may be bumping up against a core value.
Our core values may also come up for us in times of transition. When working with coaching clients, exploring core values often helps to move from feeling stuck to clearly seeing a path forward. In a coaching session, we may explore core values and their relationship to the client’s agenda. Or a client may review a Values List and narrow them down to those that resonate. We then use those values words and delve into how they influence behaviors and actions. Clients usually feel energized and leave the session with a clearer sense of purpose.