Know Your Core Values: Great Decisions vs. Difficult Decisions

Values are the core principles that run your life.  They are the key to your authentic self. One of the best ways to create success in your life is aligning your life with your top values and making decisions that honor those values.

In my career development workshops, I introduce the concept of values so that my workshop participants can begin to set goals that reflect the things that are important to them in life.  In my experience, the more your goals align with your values, the more motivated you are to pursue those goals.

I have my students find their values and then test them out by reflecting on some decisions that they have made in the past.  The following summary contains the insights of some recent workshops that I did at the Manhattan School of Music and International House Leadership Program.

Great Decisions

I first asked the students to think about some great decisions that they have made. 

A number of people, both those from other parts of the country, as well as some foreign students, said that coming to New York to study was a great decision.  I asked them what values were they honoring when they made that decision. 

Many mentioned learning values:  life-long learning, knowledge, and wisdom.  While it is pretty obvious that the decision to go to graduate school involves a value of learning, the students cited the “New York” factor as particularly important since being in New York opened up so many other learning possibilities thanks to the rich cultural offerings, as well as the interesting and diverse mix of students, teachers and professionals that one could come in contact with.

Another student felt that coming to NY to graduate school honored his values of sustainability and relationships because being in NY (as opposed to another location) enhanced the networking possibilities of creating a successful career and connecting with other collaborators.

Yet another student mentioned that getting married was a great decision because it helped her to live her values of intimacy, relationships and fun!

Difficult Decisions

On the flip sides were decisions where the students continually second-guessed themselves and left them with a pit in their stomachs.

One student put off her decision to pursue a graduate degree in music for many years because it did not seem practical. She realized that her decision not to come to NY meant that she was not in alignment with her value of wisdom.  All those years, she felt that she was languishing and she was so happy that she was able to overcome her fears and do what intuitively feels like the right thing.

Another student, an opera singer from Europe, felt that coming to NY to attend MSM was a very difficult decision because it meant leaving her boyfriend and not honoring her value around relationships. Yet, ultimately, her values around learning and excitement prevailed and in the end, she was happy with her decision.

Yet another student left her foreign country to follow her boyfriend and not attend graduate school.  She realized that this decision meant that she was not honoring her value around leadership.  By coming to graduate school, this put her on the path where she could use her musical training to be in a leadership position in the non-profit world.

This week, test out your decisions!  Think about some great decisions that you have made.  What values were you honoring?  Keep finding ways to align your life with those values.  Not only will you feel more motivated but you will also feel more fulfilled.  Pretty great, right?