What’s the Point of ‘Values’?
My live workshops and online classes often start with a ‘values’ exercise. I believe the better we know ourselves, who we are and what we stand for, the more authentically we will show up, and the better we will write.
I have a guided process for this but it’s something you can easily do on your own with a notebook or some post-it notes, a little quite space and your favourite beverage.
If you’d don’t have time to read the full article and want to download the checklist and list of values to do later, just click on the image below.
First, let’s look at why it works:
1. Tap Into Your Purpose
Identifying your values helps you tap into the purpose of your writing (and that may change. It helps anchor you, and create a persona around what you are doing, just like a strong brand would do.
Many writers struggle to identify exactly what their book project is, or to find their voice, and this can help you see exactly what you need to write and understand why you are writing.
2. Get Unstuck
I can’t tell you how many authors I’ve worked with who are stuck part-way through their book project. We get overwhelmed with ideas, we go off at tangents and we lose a sense of purity about the project. I think it’s one of the most common challenges authors face — especially when they’re working on a big project like a book.
Knowing your values will help you release all the things that are extraneous to your work. You don’t need to do what ‘everyone else’ is doing, or what you think you should be writing about. Your values tell you who you are, and going back to them will give you perspective and move you forward with the work.
3. Measure Your Success
I don’t mean your success in the book sales or the dollars earned. But measure whether you are truly living on purpose, leaving the legacy you want, and creating the work and the art that you are capable of.
I have values that guide my decisions and my choices: freedom, adventure, joy, partnership, legacy. I don’t tend to share them or talk about them but I have them written out and when I am working from them decisions are effortless and I never feel as if I am disappointing anyone.
I love the way that James Clear reports makes them public and reports on them. You don’t have to go as far as he does, but I encourage you to do the exercise below as a starting point.
Do This to Define Your Values
This exercise should take less than an hour, often less than half an hour.
1. Take Some Space
Find some space in your day, get out of the office if you can and take a notebook or a pack of post-it notes.
I like to move but you can sit if you want.
2. Write Them Out
And then simply write out values as they come to you. Values are nouns usually but you can make them what you want. What words inspire you, which words bring you joy, make you feel light, feel true for you?
There is no right or wrong to this exercise. Keep going as long as you are in the flow; your list may be long or short.
3. And Then Reflect
Take a moment to look over the list. Circle the ones that are most meaningful to you, or move those post-its to the side.
Choose between three and five — you don’t want too many or you will feel unfocused. Too few and you will feel constrained.
And that’s it!
Keep them close to you and reflect on them when you are starting to write, when you are stuck, and when you want to know whether you are successful.
If You Need Inspiration Use This
If you do need inspiration, or something to help you get started, just use this list of values, specially adapted for writers and authors.
List of Values
Making a difference
Do it When?
Do this exercise whenever you want to.
The beginning and end of a year is always a good time for self-exploration and a renewed commitment to growth. the beginnings and ends of projects are also a good time — especially if you haven’t done this before.
But really, the perfect time is whenever it is the right time for you.
What are your top three to five values? How do you use them in your life and work? I’d love you to share with me on Facebook.