Living a values-based life is not an easy goal. You get up in the morning, you’ve got tasks to do. Sometimes you just do tasks without considering how you are allocating your time.  Sometimes you just keep going all day until you are done, then fall into bed exhausted. Often it seems there isn’t enough time to think about living your life with meaning or putting your energy into what you believe in.

You may believe in family, contributing to those less fortunate, friendships or making positive difference in your community. Many times though, people don’t put their values into action. They don’t live their beliefs.

Paying Attention to Who You Are

Your values are an important part of your identity. What are your top five values? How much of your life do you spend consistent with those values? For example, if family is a top value for you, do you spend a good part of your time with your family? If you aren’t sure what your values are, you might consider this checklist as a place to start.

When first developing a sense of identity, it’s normal to think you’ve got it at times and then feel like you lose it. Your understanding of yourself and acceptance of your values may vary from one location and situation to another. Sometimes figuring out what your preferences are, what you like and don’t like, believe in and don’t believe, is a trial and error process. Accepting that you’ll explore preferences that won’t work out is part of the process.

Having supportive people in your life who encourage you as you attempt this goal is helpful.  Be careful of being who anyone wants you to be, or the opposite of who someone wants you to be, as neither will be the true you.

Living Your Identity

Maybe the truth is that you know who you are but you aren’t acting on what you know. You’re not living your life consistent with your sense of self. If that is the case, then being aware of how you alienate or disregard your true self would be the first step. Deciding you want to live in a way that is more consistent with who you are and making a commitment is a second step. Actually it’s the third, fourth and fifth steps too. It’s a big step that requires time and letting yourself be vulnerable.

Being open and honest about who you are, even to yourself, can be scary. Being yourself requires courage. It means accepting yourself and letting go of feeling shame about yourself.

But when you don’t live according to your values, you can feel empty. Life may not hold much satisfaction for you. You may wonder about the purpose of life.

Note to Readers:  My sincere thanks to everyone who has completed our second survey. If you haven’t participated, please consider answering the questions on our new survey about being emotionally sensitive. Results will be given in a future post.

Creative Commons License photo credit: University of San Francisco