How to Make Life Changing Decisions: Self-Awareness (Part 1 Your Values)

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In a previous post How People Make Life-Changing Decisions, I discussed the fact that many people who find it fairly easy to make important life changing decisions are often very self aware: they have a clear perception of their personal strengths and weaknesses; they know what motivates them; they know what they truly value; and they are aware of their potential and even their thoughts. In fact, self-awareness is one of the attributes of Emotional Intelligence, which allows you to have a clear understanding of your thought and behaviour patterns and those of other people (but I’ll cover this in a later post).

If you’re contemplating a major change in your life, being self-aware and having a clear understanding of your values, needs etc. will help you to 1) have more confidence in making important decisions (based on the fact that you know yourself and what is important to you and therefore what is right for you); and 2) will give you the opportunity to reassess your values and skills or redefine your objectives in order to successfully make that change or important decision.

So, how do people become self-aware? Well, a good place to start is by considering the following 5 important factors:

1. Your values What is important to me in my life?

2. Your needs What are my needs at the moment?

3. Your interests What do I enjoy doing most?

4. Your transferable skills What skills have I got? (These can be both natural abilities and learned skills);

5. Your goals – What do I really want to do with my life?

Having a clear understanding of these 5 important areas can help you to achieve a better understanding of yourself why you think the way you do, why you make the decisions you do, and why you act the way you do. However, remember that your values, needs, interests, skills, and goals will probably change as you experience new opportunities, as you mature, or if a major change happen in your life, e.g. if you move to live in a different country or become a parent, so you are really only looking at a ‘snapshot’ of how the above 5 factors relate to you at the

This miniseries On How To Make Life Changing Decisions: Self Awareness, will be broken up into multiple parts. In each article we are going to look at one of the five important factors given above, so let’s get started now with 1. Your Values.

Self-Awareness Your Values

You might not have really given too much thought to what ‘your values’ are, but they’re in fact central to our lives and are the driving force behind everything we do. The more we are able to live out our values the more rewarding our life, and therefore our values are very important when considering change or making decisions which affect us.

Try this ‘Values’ exercise:

Look at the list of ‘values’ below and quickly divide them between the following categories:

Of No Importance; Of Some Importance; Of Considerable Importance.

Be as honest as you can, how important is:

  • Money;
  • status;
  • advancement;
  • recognition;
  • respect;
  • autonomy;
  • success;
  • security;
  • Learning;
  • Excitement;
  • Time freedom;
  • Variety;
  • being challenged;
  • peace;
  • creativity;
  • power;
  • helping others;
  • using your talents;
  • behaving ethically;
  • spontaneity;
  • risk taking;
  • making a difference;
  • friendships;
  • balance between work and life

(This list is by no means exhaustive, feel free to add more values to it if you wish)

At the end of this short exercise, take a large piece of paper and write down each of the three categories ‘Of No Importance; Of Some Importance; Of Considerable Importance’ at the top of the page and then list all the items you have chosen for each category underneath. See my example below.

Over the next few days revisit your list and adjust/move the items between the three categories if necessary. Then concentrating on the ‘Of Considerable Importance’ pile only, try to pick 5 from your list that you feel are your most important values.

 My Values

Of Considerable Importance:

Learning; using my talents; advancement; autonomy; behaving ethically; helping others; respect; creativity; success; recognition; variety; time freedom; work life balance; making a difference

Of Some Importance:

spontaneity; security; money; excitement; being challenged; friendships; peace

Of No Importance:

status; power; risk taking;

Of Considerable Importance: Top 5:

Learning; using my talents; behaving ethically; helping others; time freedom

This is a very useful exercise to do as it will help you to understand what you value i.e. what is important to you and, as I discussed above, this is essential information to have when trying to make important decisions and choices in your life.

In my next post in this series I’ll be looking at another very important factor of self-awareness – your needs.

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Craig is the founder of LifeGuider, he is dedicated to improving not only himself but also others in being more physically fit and mentally capable of handling life's challenges. He is not your regular life coach, no fancy clothes or fast cars, just a regular "Ole Joe" who has experienced the ups and downs of life like everyone else.

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