Your values tell the story of who you are and who you want to be. Whether you are growing a small business, a family, a garden, a career, or anything else of importance, the only way to truly achieve success is to align what you are doing with your personal values. Our personal value system is as unique as our fingerprint-a little bit of this, a little bit of that. We talked about time vs. money (two significant values) and steering your own ship, but let’s delve a bit more into determining what yours are.

One thing to note before we go further and that is sometimes your values don’t align perfectly or well with the people who matter to you: a spouse, a business partner, your parents. If they are a significant part of your life, you will have to learn to negotiate well and with an open heart and mind so that each of you can live as closely to your own vision as possible. This isn’t always easy. If you are surrounded by people whose values fit snuggly with yours, you are blessed.

One of the best ways to determine your values and your ideal life is to start noting those days that feel really, really good. Are you a businessman but you keep finding that your best days are spent at home cooking for the family? Are you a stay-at-home mom but you keep finding that your best days are when you are working on a fundraising project?

Determining your values is a LIFELONG process.

It involves investigation, honesty, discussions with people you trust (this is an opportunity tailor made for the coach/mentor relationship) and patience. Your values will change and will clarify as you age. When we have a look at Steve Pavlina’s List of Values (which is very long!), you will notice that there is a vast variety outside of the ones we typically think of (honesty, success, love, financial security): adventure, carefulness, energy, piety, resilience…Isn’t this opportunity to explore who you are and to build a life that fits you like a glove exciting?

If sacrifice, hard work, the potential for failure, self-motivation, and serving others aren’t tops in your list of values, you might want to question your desire to build a small business. And that is perfectly ok! You can live a completely different vision and be a success. As you question all of the traditions and rules that have been passed down to you, do a thorough investigation of your personal value system to build the life (and possibly business) that is right for you.

by Steven Schlagel