What is your hierarchy of values? What does it say about you? How can we use it to live a better life?
When you understand your values, you are better able to understand yourself, and why you do the things that you do.
Self understanding is the gateway to change; to more success, more happiness, and living in better alignment.
Of course, it’s a process that never ends, but understanding your values is a good place to start. To start building a picture of who you are, and start becoming who you want to be.
When you understand your core value, and your current hierarchy of values; you are able to use that information as a base to make and filter decisions through.
Now you can adjust your thinking, actions, and behaviours to better align with what you want from life.
No longer living in accordance with ‘societies values’ that are fed to you through school, media, friends, parents, etc. that create a sense of obligation, of pointlessly sacrificing what you want for ‘what is right’, and perhaps worse of all…
…Being ‘successful’ by the societal definition, but left empty and unfulfilled.
The manipulation of values is what shows up in the real world as change.
You can take something you previously attributed low value to, and make it of higher importance in your life. This will change the way you think, act, and behave.
In other words, it will change who you are.
It’s one of the keys to unlocking serious personal growth. Wouldn’t you want to change who you are for the better?
What are values?
Values in this context doesn’t mean ethics.
The concept of values comes from Dr John DeMartini, one of the most influential writers and thinkers on my life. I’ll quote him below;
The hierarchy of your values determine how you perceive (what you selectively attend to) and how you act (what you selectively intend upon) in your world and therefore they determine your immediate destiny. Since your values change over time, your destiny therefore changes over time. The summation of your series of destinies determines your evolving life journey.
Your ultimate or relatively unchanging core value dictates your infinite journey the most. Your transient, changing, crusted hierarchy of values dictates your series of transient finite destinies.
The core value is what you are always striving for in your life. Across the 7 different areas, you are acting in such a way to fulfill your core value.
The more important a value is – the higher it will be on your hierarchy of values and the more discipline and order you will have associated with it. The less important a value is – the lower it will be on your hierarchy of values and the less discipline and more disorder you have associated with it.
When you live according to your highest values you become inspired and awaken genius. When you live according to your lower values you require continuous outside motivation and you suppress your genius. Your present purpose or mission for life will reflect your present highest values.
Knowing your hierarchy of values explains why you do what you do, but manipulating your values empowers you to achieve more in parts of life you might previously have struggled.
Although determining your values can be practically useful in your daily reality, in actuality, nothing is void or missing in the first place, it is only in another unrecognized form.
You have the capability to achieve what you want, you just don’t recognise it yet. The same skills a ‘lazy person’ uses to complete video games can be applied by a ‘go getter’ to build a successful business.
Determining your hierarchy of values
Go here https://drdemartini.com/values/ and complete the Values Determination Process.
You’ll need to register for a free account.
Watch the intro video where Dr DeMartini explains how to do the process and understand your values.
I have a screenshot of my results from when I did this last year, so you can see what it looks like…
Your hierarchy of values are assessed by answering 13 questions and tallying up the responses. You group things that are similar into the same category.
These are self-determined categories. For example business for me might be career for someone else. Girls for me might be wife or girlfriend for someone else.
Having done this multiple times myself, and with dozens of clients; I know the process and myself pretty well.
In the past year or so since the screen shot I know that Business will have moved to the top, with self-development second. Gym and women have taken a back seat this year.
These 4 main values have pretty much been interchanging all of my adult life. At different periods a different area or 2 will have emphasis.
A few points to take note of when doing it…
The purpose is to get an accurate reflection of WHAT IS.
Not to judge yourself or beat yourself up about what ‘should be’.
We’re looking at what you DO.
Not what you wish, want, or project to the outside world.
Only when you’re honest about what is the reality, are you empowered to take control and change things for the better.
Ok, so you know what your values are…
What does this really mean?
The things at the top of your values hierarchy inspire, energise, and excite you.
With things that are lower in your hierarchy, you will tend to procrastinate, find boring, and struggle with.
Ultimately, everything is serving your core value.
Your Core Value
My core value is freedom.
It’s the commonality across your values hierarchy.
The core value remains pretty much the same across time; where your hierarchy will change.
You can look at the things in your hierarchy and look at what they’re serving.
What does business offer me? What does travel or girls offer me?
Is your work about security? Money? Intellectual challenge?
Your life and identity tend to revolve around your core value. Everything in my life is set up to maximise freedom.
I run my own business, so I have no boss, nobody telling me what to do. Total freedom to choose the avenues I go down.
Even when I had a client service business, I wanted out of schedules and appointments – it was’t enough freedom for me. I sacrificed income, many times, to attain more freedom.
I travel the world, living sporadically in different places that catch my fancy. Never being tied down with long-term contracts or commitments.
I pay 50-100% more rent by living in Air BnB’s than an apartment on a 1-year lease would cost, because I don’t want to be tied down.
I love reading, learning, experiencing new things and questioning beliefs. I reject ideologies and rigid thinking; being aggressively independent.
…You can see how my drive for freedom impacts the biggest areas of my life. Sometimes in totally positive ways, and sometimes in ways that people who don’t value freedom would question the logic of.
Why not just settle down and pay less rent?
Why not keep pursuing a business you’re successful at, that pays you well?
The answer is because it’s not aligned with my values.
Trying to settle for anything less would be massively underwhelming. It would be giving up on life and ‘doing what I’m supposed to’.
You will be the same, but your core value might be something else. Though it wouldn’t surprise me if it is freedom for a lot of you, because people tend to be attracted to people of shared values.
Even if you’re not aware of it, or never articulated those values. They show up in everything you do.
Align your goals with your values
To achieve things; especially in your lower value areas, you need to be smarter than saying “I want…” and then continuing to live in direct opposition to what you claim to want.
Or even worse, saying “I should…”
Avoid any kind of language that comes with the implication that you’re not doing it.
Eliminate ‘should’, ‘will’, ‘wish’, ‘want’, ‘might’, etc. from your vocabulary.
“I am…” is the only useful language.
You don’t have to have completed something, to use “I am…” you can also be in the process of doing it.
“I am getting fit”.
“I am saving money”.
“I am building a business”.
Are all positive and self-serving phrases.
But we can do better than that.
Why are you doing those things?
If you had an inherently strong desire to get fit, save money, or build a business you would have done it years ago. It would come easily, be fun, and energising for you.
If you’re trying to make changes in your life, that probably isn’t the case. You’re probably trying to bring up areas where you tend to struggle.
I never had to do this for fitness, business, dating, or self-development. They’ve always been my highest values.
I had to do this for my financial literacy, saving money, and starting to invest.
I had to do it for making a greater effort socially, to get on with people instead of accepting that most people bore me, and making zero effort to engage them, or have them like me.
So how do you do it?
Linking your goals to your highest values
To successfully implement things that are of low value to you, you need to make them serve something that is high value to you.
When you see how doing something will lead to success in your core value and other highest values, it suddenly integrates into your life. It fits comfortably into your self-image, whereas before it was something you didn’t think of yourself doing.
For example; I wanted to travel. That’s a big tick for freedom.
To travel I needed to get out of debt, save some money, and be in a financially secure position. Prior to linking personal finances with bigger goals and my core value; money was just easy come, easy go.
I’d always end up with just enough to pay for whatever I happened to buy, and nothing more. If I made less money, I’d spend less. If I made more, I spent more.
I always ended up in the same place, because saving money wasn’t an articulated value of mine.
Of course, if you said;
“Phil, would you like to have £100,000 in the bank?“, I wasn’t about to say no.
Yet I wasn’t living in accordance with this ‘desire’. If I can’t put away £100 a month, I’m never going to have £100,000.
I didn’t really care.
Only when it became an integral part of living out my core values did I actually implement the simple, boring behaviours needed to do it.
How can you link something you want to change with your highest values?
Coming from a fitness coaching background, I’d have clients write out 50 or 100 ways that transforming their body / getting fit would help achieve more in their highest values.
Their values might be business, family, kids, money, whatever. Fitness can help all of them, but they would not see that without going through this process.
Once they see that fitness serves their business in 6 dozen different ways, going to the gym isn’t just about losing the gut; it’s helping build their business. The thing they care most about, their passion, their legacy.
Suddenly they can bring the same fire and inspiration they have for things at the top of their hierarchy of values to something that they previously didn’t care about.
That’s how you get phenomenal results in a short space of time.
Remember; you already possess the skills, you just need to direct them at the right target. As Dr DeMartini says, everyone has genius within them. You just have to coax it out and channel it.
Values linking exercise
Determine your core value, and the top 3 values in your hierarchy of values.
Determine what you want to improve or change.
Write 100 ways that improving/changing this area will serve your highest values.
Watch the video at the top of the post for some examples, or check out this post where I show some examples for linking fitness with higher values.
Once you’ve done the linking, you’ll start to feel that implementing this thing you want to change is actually serving you. It’s important. It energises you.
Then you will succeed.
Let me know how you get on with this, and leave a comment if you have any questions.
I also recommend checking out Dr DeMartini’s books, they’re great.