I've gained some insights on this from author and leadership development coach Val Wilcox. Wilcox poses some seemingly simple questions to lend clarity to the formulation of personal values. Where exactly do you stand? What are the most important principles that guide you? Finding the answers to these questions can help shape your future because your choices and decisions are based on your values.
If you're not absolutely clear where you stand, your decisions could be swayed by outside influences. In an Ezine article titled "Do You Stand Up For Your Values?" Wilcox offered some tips I thought were very helpful:
Your core values
Create a list of values that are important to you. Is there a main theme? Can you narrow the list down to six or eight core values that encompass who you strive to be?
Use these as your guide with all your choices. There may be times when one value becomes more dominant in your choices than others, depending on the circumstances.
Life has a way of testing these convictions time and time again. You may feel a pull between standing strong in your values and bending to "fit in" with people around you. In this living laboratory of life, though, we need to take consequences into effect (think of the bull in the china shop).
If you always allow your true values to be circumvented, you could start to hold yourself in check so much (the shrinking violet) that you begin adapting to what you think you should be. Before you know it, you've lost sight of who you really are.
Your best barometer is within. If you listen, you'll also be able to gauge the sincerity in others and likely develop a kinship with those who resonate with you.
Baby steps will help at first. Reconnecting with yourself and standing strong can pave a path to a firmer foundation. If you've been out of sync for a while, this will take time. As you keep practicing, though, you may well find more peace and balance in your life.
You might even want to adopt a new mantra: No more running with the bulls -- or shrinking with the violets!
Linda Arnold, M.A., M.B.A., is a certified wellness instructor, counselor and chairwoman/CEO of The Arnold Agency, a marketing communications firm with offices in West Virginia, Montana and Washington, D.C. Reader comments are welcome and may be directed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston, WV 25301, or livelifefu...@arnoldagency.com.