If you live in the corporate world you’ve heard of mission, vision and values. Maybe you’re a business owner and have read about the importance of having a mission a vision and values to be able to guide your company in the right direction. I vehemently agree that, in business, you need these things in order to understand where your company is going.
However, even though these things are touted in the business world and are a necessity to be able to guide a company in the right direction, why do we not talk about these things on a personal level? I mean, is not important to understand what your values truly are? After all, without truly understanding your values, you can’t make basic or big decisions in life in a coherent way. It’s just not possible. So, before I go off on a tangent and blow this article to smithereens, let me explain myself a little better. Then you can start to see the importance of having your purpose and you values.
The last time we talked, I broke down the 3 characteristics of the Pyramid of Vitality and how each characteristic has 3 functions. Without getting into too much detail, here are the 3 characteristics and the functions to go along with them:
Again, if you missed the last article, it’s important that you go back and read it by clicking HERE. This will give you the ground work for understanding why this article exists.
Within each one these functions, you are constantly making decision. Whether you’re deciding to do Yoga, or deciding to follow a Paleo diet, or deciding to go out and how beers with your friends, your decisions are what drive your level of vitality. So if that’s the case, then what is driving your decisions? After all, none of us make decisions blindly without some form of thought or guidance (at least, we don’t do this often. If you do this often, your life will be filled with constant uncertainty…which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but will likely lead to constant stress as well).
Even though it feels like we make daily decisions on a surface level, all of your decisions are guided. They are guided simply by your values and your purpose. “What?! Values and Purpose?! My only purpose is to make money to be able to relax and party with friends!!” Well, maybe this is the case for you. And if it is, that’s okay. You are making decisions on your values and purpose by deciding that you simply want to make money and relax. Let me explain a little better…
As the interconnected, social beings that we are, we constantly surrounded by people and situations that shape who we become over time. When we’re children, we watch our parents interact with each and watch how they interact with us and adjust our beliefs accordingly. As teenagers, we are greatly influenced by our peers and social groups. If you are part of the popular group, your thoughts and beliefs will be much different than if you are part of the unpopular group. All of these interactions over time slowly create our values.
We may not acknowledge it, but our values manifest themselves through our interactions with others as children and as teens. This is when the majority of beliefs become ingrained in us. So whether you see it or not, your decisions are being guided by someone else’s beliefs, whether that be your parents or your high school friends or your college roommate. The accumulation of these beliefs become your values. And if you’re not careful, you will continue to be guided by other people’s beliefs and values throughout your life.
Your purpose acts in much the same way. Many of us don’t have a purpose. I’m not saying that many of us are useless and shouldn’t be here! I believe that each and every one of us has a purpose and has the obligation to fulfill that purpose. What I’m saying is that most of us don’t see our purpose for what it is. We see what other’s believe our purpose is and follow that instead.
Let me give you an example. If you ask people who work in a corporate job why they stay at their job, even though they may not like the company, they will say it’s because of security. If you then ask them where they learned that being in a corporate job offers them security, they will surely tell you that their parents told them to get a job at a good company and to hang onto it for dear life. Now, this is becoming less and less prevalent. However, the point remains the same. Many of us jump into a job and stay there because our parents ingrained in us the importance of having security. And security, for them, means working for a big corporation with good benefits. So, in turn, your purpose becomes doing the same.
As you can see, we are greatly influenced by those around us. Every interaction we have has the opportunity to change our perspective of life in an instant if we let it. Sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes it’s not so good. Where we get in trouble is when we are too easily guided by other people’s thoughts and beliefs and don’t have a grasp on who we are and what we stand for. This is why it’s important to find and develop your own values and purpose. Because without them, you will be constantly making decisions and creating beliefs based on the opinions of others around you.
To start to understand what your true values are, let’s look at what it is that you don’t like. I want you to make a list of at least 10 characteristics that you don’t like in somebody. For instance, a short list of my dislikes includes:
Now that I have my list of dislikes, I can make my list values. Simply figure out what the opposite of your dislike is, and that is the value that you place in the spot. For instance, here are the attributes that would take the place of my dislikes:
Slowly, you can begin to shape your values. As you do, you’ll see how important it is to understand your values in order to make proper decisions.
The next objective is to figure out your purpose. If you have no idea what to do here, we can take a similar approach to find our purpose as we did to find our values. First, write down 3 things in this world that you are passionate about changing. Yes, I want you to think BIG. Forget about making money, forget about paying bills, forget about making your parents happy. Write down 3 things that you are truly passionate about changing in this world. Maybe you’re passionate about the overuse of drugs or the waste of solar energy or going to Mars. Maybe you love cats and hate to see them suffer. For me, my passion is health and vitality. This is where I see making the biggest impact in the world.
Now, if you have your 3 passions, pick the one that most excites you. Pick the one that, when you see it and read it, you get worked up. Did you find it?! Good. Now that you have your passion, it’s time to make your purpose statement. This is done by stating your passion in a way that lets the world know what you’re here to do. It lets the world know how you make your decisions. If you’re having trouble, here’s my purpose statement to give you some guidance:
Does that leave you any question about my purpose? I thought not. This is how I make my decisions in life, based on this statement. If come to me with a business idea about opening a bar or a new fast food restaurant, I’m not in. Why? Because it doesn’t fit my purpose. I would be completely contradicting myself otherwise. Do bars make people a lot of money? Yes. Is fast food a great way to become filthy rich? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean anything if goes against my purpose.
I hope you took the time to make it through this whole article and find your values and your purpose. If you didn’t get a chance to actually go through these exercises, please do them later. It’s imperative that you garner an understanding of these aspects of your life. Without them, you may be making decisions that someone else wants you to make.
Now that we understand our purpose and values, we can begin to break down the Pyramid of Vitality one characteristic at a time. As we do, you’ll start to see how your purpose and values guide your decisions and how, in turn, have a huge impact on your ultimate vitality!