Chapter 18: Value Hierarchies: The Ultimate Judgment of Success
“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself.” ~Abraham Maslow
Personal values are one of the most powerful things we can be aware of. What we value shapes our every action, every behavior, every internal representation that we have. The things we value and why we value them shape exactly who we are and that’s why they’re so powerful.
The thing is most of us aren’t really aware of what we value because they are mostly unconscious views our brain forms based on what we’ve experienced or learned. Awareness of our values is so important though and can explain why we act, think and behave the way we do.
If I were to ask you, “What do you value most in a relationship?” you might say feeling loved right away. Then I would ask “What’s so important about feeling loved?” Let’s say you answer that it makes you happy. Here, you started to develop your hierarchy of values in a relationship. Your #1 value is love then happiness below it.
If you get stuck on two values that you’re not completely sure where they fit on your hierarchy of values, simply ask yourself “Which one can I live without… this or this?” Asking yourself this will clear up the uncertainty. The hierarchy of values can be applied not only to intimate relationships but also to parenting, to your job, to picking out a new house, almost anything!
In order to have the most awareness of what you value in different areas of your life, make lists of all the things that you value in different areas of your life. For example, one list for relationships, one list for your job and so on. Whatever values you feel you should map out precisely. Once you’ve made your lists of values, write a number next to each value based on importance to you. If you’re not sure which one is even the most important, ask yourself the questions from before to make it clear!
At this point, you may be asking yourself why the heck this crazy blogger is telling me to make all these lists about the things I value?! You already have a good idea of what you value and don’t see the importance of taking the time to make a list. Well, making these lists is much like goal setting. We make a list of goals to clarify what we want to accomplish and to remind us each day of what those things are.
Not only that, making these lists can reveal to you the values that don’t go together or are incongruent to the actions and behaviors in your life. For example, if you value freedom but also being loved, then you may create conflict and frustration within your relationship and within yourself. Your behaviors of wanting freedom are incongruent with wanting to feel loved. This is where it becomes helpful to know which value is higher in importance to you so your behaviors match your values.
If you know what comes first on your hierarchy of values within the workplace, it’ll save you a lifetime of unhappiness or regret because what you value in a job isn’t congruent with the job you have. If you value the power to be creative but you take a job that puts value in money or structure, you’ll never be happy! Sure, having money is generally important, but if it is not #1 to you then you’re not being congruent thus making yourself unhappy.
Our values have so much power in our lives, that they can either shape or destroy our experiences. If you’re not happy with your job, have the flexibilty to recognize what your values are then change what it is about your job that you don’t like. Maybe it’s your job all together that needs to go. Same goes for your love life, your parenting style, your friendships and so on. Whether you realize it or not, living congruent to your values is the key to being happy and living the successful life that you desire!