Guiding Values

Something that has become really popular is the idea of choosing a word to guide you throughout the year. I see little courses popping up all over the place to help you ‘choose your word’ for the year.

I have done this in the past. But as I sat down to think about what I wanted the next year to look like, I stopped listening to the voices outside urging me to choose just one word, and listened inwards. What I heard was this: just one word is too limiting and doesn’t allow us to really look after ourselves while also giving back to the world.

One word can help to guide us, but we often need more than one word to help us move through the year. So, I tend to choose a guiding word (often, the word chooses me) along with a few of the values below.

With my coaching clients, we look at two different types of values to help guide them:

  • Being values
  • Having values

Being and having values

Being values are the character traits you want to have, the kind of person you want to be. They are what you are offering to the world. They are usually adjectives. Examples of character traits, or being values are:

  • Courageous
  • Assertive
  • Kind
  • Accepting
  • Optimistic
  • Trusting
  • Creative
  • Patient
  • Confident
  • Generous
  • Faithful
  • Loving
  • Friendly

Usually a person will have three or so guiding being values throughout their life to help them become more of the person they want to be, and steer away from bad habits that don’t help them. For example, I tend to be fearful a lot, so one of my on-going being values is courageous. I also have a lot of doubt, so I actively work with the being value faithful as well.

Having values are the things you need to have in your life to make you feel good. These are your core needs – what you are getting from the world. It is likely you will have a few of these. They are usually abstract nouns. Examples of having values are:

  • Solitude
  • Adventure
  • Freedom
  • Service
  • Security
  • Order
  • Love
  • Calm/peace
  • Companionship
  • Creativity
  • Self-expression
  • Inspiration

There is no real limit to the number of having values a person can have, because we all have different needs. While it’s important to be working towards meeting your core needs on an on-going basis, sometimes it can be helpful to focus in on one particular need when things in our life feel out of balance.

What I am suggesting is that you choose one of each being values and having values to guide you through the year – so you will essentially be using two guiding words instead of one (or, in addition to one you like), to bring a little more harmony into your life. Because you are using one value that focuses on what you are giving to the world (being value) and one value that focuses on what you are getting from the world (having value), this will ensure you don’t end up burning out from not looking after yourself, but also that you are offering something to the world too.

Use the prompts in the workbook to help you choose one of each of the values to support you throughout the year.

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