Why knowing what we value matters.

In a previous post I talked about How to set S.M.A.R.T. Goals for success. This detailed how we could set goals in order to achieve our desired outcome. Well, what if we aren’t sure what it is we want? Or we know what we want, but not exactly. How do we set and achieve goals for things that we only have a vague idea of?

In a world filled with possibility, options, and plenty of things to choose from how do we decide? For people like me, who want to do, try, and be everything, it doesn’t come so easy.
So the first thing we do is ask ourselves ‘what do I value?’ Is it family? Nature? Fame? Love? Fortune? Etc.

During a lesson in one of my college classes, we played a values game. We had a list of values you could choose from such as family, fame, fortune, love, nature, honor, kindness, intelligence, or popularity. Nearly anything you could think of was on that list of values. Then we were each given a pretend $10,000 to spend on these values.

My professor started the bidding. “$5 for religion.”
Someone raised their hand to bid $5. Another student said “$6”
And religion was sold for $6.

This is how it went for a few minutes. We get half way through auctioning off values and I started to feel on edge. I was saving all my money in case I need to bid high on something that I really wanted, yet so far I had bought no values.

My professor said “ Be careful if you are holding back for something specific because you could end up with nothing.” And she wasn’t just talking to me.
After her suggestion, I bought travel for the high price of $5,000. Ok, I really want to see the world and this was pretty high in ranks of my values. Plus there were a limited number of values left. I also valued freedom, friendship, family, nature, love, kindness, intelligence, and a million other things. But so far, I only had travel.

I still had another $5,000 and there were only a few values left. I saw that family was one of the last my professor would auction off. ‘Ok’ I thought, ‘all in for family.’ As soon as she said “$4,000 for family.” Another student immediately pipped up with “$4,000!”
‘I’ve got it!’ I thought and said “$5,000!” The student I was bidding against said, “$5,100!”
There were no values left. Plenty of students had a good handful of varied values. They were willing to risk other values more easily in order to obtain the ones they really cherished. I only had travel, because I wasn’t sure which values I wanted to part with and which ones I wanted to keep, because I only had a set amount of money to trade.

As this realization settled in and understanding of the exercise crept into my mind my professor spoke up.

 “It is important to know what we value and what we are willing to give up for the things we cherish. This makes us strong and unmoving when confronted with adversity.”

The lesson wasn’t as harsh as it would have been if I had learned it throughout life. It brought awareness to the way I had been looking at the things I valued and wanted for my life.

I value a lot, but when do some values get traded for others? What is most important to me? I’m sure we can all think of a time when we were tested or confronted with a choice between our values. When should I value travel over family. What if I’m only presented with travel and never know when I might have to make a bid for family? Should I not bid on travel in case I have to use all my pennies for family? We don’t always know where life will take us so we have to know ourselves. Which values will be our strongest and our most unwavering? These values are the ones that guide us and drive our actions. These are the values that will make up our lives.



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