Values are the fundamental beliefs that govern our lives and guide our decision-making. Each person has a unique set of values based on their life experiences and influences. In order to find direction and purpose in life, it is important to identify your core values and reflect on areas that may require growth.
Values can hold both intrinsic and instrumental worth. Intrinsic values such as love, truth, and creativity are inherently rewarding, while instrumental or extrinsic values such as friendship, collaboration, and responsibility rely on external relationships. While there are trends across cultures and generations, values are uniquely individual and set the stage for our personal ethics – an essential trait for any attorney.
Even within other professions, ethical decision-making is a daily, subconscious behavior that relies heavily on our core values. Every day we make minute decisions – how we respond to others, present ourselves, and what we pursue – based on what we find important in life.
As we mature as individuals, our values tend to shift as we pass through different life stages, gain self-awareness, and meet new people. Most likely, the values you held as a teenager are very different from the values you hold as an adult. As we experience more of the world and transition away from our initial family unit, our values may also shift to differ from those of our families, friends, and colleagues.
If we do not take the time to evaluate the changes in our way of thinking, it is easy to become caught up in challenging situations that impact how we view ourselves, others, and the world around us. Having a clear understanding of what we hold important allows us to protect our peace and maintain our self-respect.
The values that we hold do not always align with our actions, words, and the way we live our daily lives. Meaning, what we want to be isn’t always echoed by our choices. By identifying your personal values, you become more aware of your expectations for yourself and others and recognize areas in your life that you may need to prioritize.
In my work as a mental health counselor, I have developed a list of values as well as a guide to help adults identify and unpack their values and the importance each one holds. It is my hope that by taking some time to reflect upon yourself, you are better able to understand your thoughts, coping mechanisms, and relationships.
Download my Identify Your Personal Values worksheet here.
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