Why You Need to Know Your Values Now, Not During

What’s the first thing you do when you open up a new game that you’ve never played before?  Read the directions!  We want to know how to win, what rules to follow and any tips and tools the creator of the game is willing to give us.  This is what life is supposed to be like but often is not.
Most of us go into brand new life situations without a set of directions… or core values.  We don’t identify and commit ourselves to the things we say we want and believe in most.  Whether it be parenting, dating, marriage, looking for a job, choosing a hobby, making a close friend we need to know what our must-haves are and what our deal breakers are BEFORE we go in to it.
Many people think of an idea, decide it’s a good idea then jump in.  While there are qualities to jumping in versus talking about something to death and never jumping in having a guide that we commit to (our list of values) is critical for any new life decision to be a pleasant experience let alone a success.

If you’re parenting you don’t just hand over the keys to your teen and say “have fun!”  No way.  You have a conversation and lay out expectations, boundaries, and safety protocols.  If you’re looking for a job you know how much money you need to earn, what hours you can work and sure it can sustain you before accepting.  When going into a relationship, or even thinking about a relationship you need a list of must-haves and deal breakers.  

The reason for identifying core values before making a decision or starting a new life chapter is to ensure your own happiness and success.  The problem though is that many people don’t want to hold themselves accountable to these values.  It’s harder this way.  It takes intention and requires time, sometimes sacrifice, forethought, and even self-discipline.  But it usually keeps us out of trouble.

The other side of this coin is not identifying core values and allowing people and circumstances to influence your decisions.  If there are no convictions there at the very beginning then there doesn’t need to be follow through.  We can do what feels good and what seems easy.

But here’s the thing… while living life according to a set of values does take discipline, intention and forethought it protects us.  For example, when we consider parenting it’s critical we consider what kind of home we will raise our kids in, what kind of example we want to be, what expectations will we have for our kids.  If we don’t consider these values we end up in a home of confusion, chaos, miscommunication and tension.  We end up thinking “how did my family get here?!”  It’s because you didn’t start out with your values to lead the way.

If we go in to life situations with our set of directions (just like playing a brand new game) we have a much better chance of figuring things out and knowing how to end on the winning side. 

I understand that this sounds simple but it’s not easy.  I am always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions!  
Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.

Written by Lisa Smith

The Challenge to Identify Your Values and Stand Against The Flow

Living in Orange County and raising a family here brings its own challenges. There is pressure to succeed both socially and financially. Our children are watching us and learning from our behaviors what is important to us and what we value. Being clear in our own heads of what values we want to pass on to our children will guide our behaviors. But life is complicated, because of the pressure to succeed and compare ourselves to others we can loose our way and I believe this is making our families unstable.

It does take effort and courage to identify your core values and then to stand up for them. Social media has created an environment that is high in intensity. Setting yourself apart can feel very vulnerable. As our children grow up they are much more concerned with fitting in and having “likes” so to identify yourself and your family as something different than the norm is frightening. 

For example as we are raising our family there is pressure to keep up with everyone else including what they have, how their house looks, what toys their children have, what clothes they wear and what they are doing socially. That may mean you have to work more hours than you want too to earn the needed money and you’re missing time with the family. Is that really what you want?

There is also pressure to enroll our children in multiple extra curricular activities because you want them to have every opportunity and not to fall behind, but then we realize that we are always rushing and not having meals together at home. Or your child is invited to so many activities and going to these events brings expectations. You may have to bring a gift, take time away from something else or feel like you have to reciprocate and put on your own event.  But if you don’t participate then your child may fall out of acceptance in this social group, you yourself won’t be connected to these parents and you may have to stand alone in your value of family time and a slower pace. 

We need to consider that your child is watching you and if you don’t stand for something different, they will feel the pressure themselves to keep up and perform. Why wouldn’t they, what they are seeing is you succumbing to the pressure to keep up and if that is what they see then they make the assumption that it is what you value.

Some values supported in earlier generations were, faith, integrity, personal responsibility, a strong work ethic and the value of being selfless. These showed themselves in a family with religious attendance, family dinners, community service and holding our children responsible for their actions. It concerns me that some young families are getting caught in the current of social pressure and not taking time to evaluate their values and what they want to teach their children.

I am not promoting a set of specific values but I am encouraging you to think about what you want to show your children that is important to you and this takes thought and intention. It does take effort to fight the current.

Written by Lisa Strong

Reduce Conflict by Considering Your Partners Core Values

Why are our core values important in a marriage or relationship? Is it possible to have a healthy relationship with different core values? 

My own parents had some similar core values and some very different ones. My mom was an artist who valued creativity and beauty while my father was an attorney who valued intellect and logical thinking. They sound very different but I think what kept them together were their shared values of honesty, trust, family and most importantly mutual respect. 

Let me explain what I mean by a core value. These are fundamental beliefs that drive our behavior. These beliefs affect all decisions and the choices that we make. We make our decisions based on what feels right to us and that inner feeling is a core value. Many of these core values are formed in childhood and passed on to us by our parents. 

When I say that I think that the value of mutual respect is what kept my parents together I mean that they treated each other with the same care that they would want for themselves. They listened with kindness and interest and assumed the best giving the benefit of the doubt. 

Here are some examples of core values that might drive your behavior

1. Honesty is always the best policy

2. Family is of fundamental importance

3. Be responsible with your money

4. Religion or spirituality is valued

5. Working hard, no laziness 

6. Being dependable and a person of integrity

These are some things that drive our behavior and when we go against these core values it just doesn’t feel right. I am sure you can see a lot of minefields here if you and your partner do not see eye to eye on these values. Let’s look at examples 1-3: your partner might suggest telling a “white lie”, canceling on a family activity to do something for yourselves or going in to debt to take a vacation. None of these behaviors are horrible in themselves but if it goes against a core value it just doesn’t sit well with you and can cause conflict in a marriage.

I am not saying that all values must be the same, my parents showed me that wasn’t the case, but we need to show respect and consideration of each others core values. Be aware that asking someone to go against their values can cause great anxiety and strife in a person. It is better to come to a compromise that each person can feel comfortable with. This is where the mutual respect is needed. 

We are always here to help.  Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions for us! Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.  

Written by Lisa Strong