Updated: May 30
With graduation season in full swing, there are many things to consider and numerous decisions to be made. In May, I have a son graduating from college and another son graduating from high school.
Decision-making can be a source of immense stress for young people. Whether it's choosing a college, selecting a job, major or dating partner, the process of making decisions can be overwhelming. However, I have found that clarifying and identifying your values can help to alleviate this stress. By doing so, you can gain clarity on what matters most to you and use this knowledge to guide your decisions. Knowing your values is essential because they are directly tied to your motivations and your moral compass. Our values influence our attitudes, beliefs, ideals, and judgments, and prepare us to make decisions based on their consequences.
To identify your values, start by reflecting on what matters most to you in life. This could include things like family, relationships, personal growth, career aspirations, or athletic pursuits. Once you have a list of values, try to narrow it down to your top three or four. These are the values that are most important to you, and that you want to prioritize in your life. Now, go back to all your choices and see what options are aligned with your values.
Identifying your values can help make decision-making a more manageable process, particularly when it comes to life choices. Some general values to consider include honesty, integrity, respect, responsibility, loyalty, connection, empathy and compassion. These will help guide you to the right friends, coach, dating partner or spouse. Additionally, values more specific to life choices can include ambition, self-improvement, work-life balance, health and wellness, financial stability, family, adventure, weather, creativity, education, personal growth, independence, travel, freedom, spirituality, security, diversity, connection, innovation, and social responsibility. These often guide you to the right college, job, city or career. By understanding what values are important to you, you eliminate wandering aimlessly in random directions.
To put your values into practice, ask yourself whether your actions are aligned with your values. If they are not, consider how you can adjust your behavior and decisions to better align with your values. By living in accordance with your values, you can find greater satisfaction and meaning in your athletic pursuits, as well as in your life as a whole.
It's true that even if you haven't consciously identified your values, you still have an internal sense of what's important to you. When you're not living in alignment with your values, you may experience feelings of frustration, discontentment, or even a sense of unfulfillment. However, when you do align with your values, you're more likely to live a fulfilling and meaningful life. By taking the time to identify and prioritize your values, you can gain a clearer sense of purpose and direction and make decisions that are more in line with your authentic self. This can lead to a greater sense of happiness, well-being, and overall life satisfaction.