What Are Values, and Why Are They Important?
Why do you do what you do? What motivates you? Why is it important to plan for the future? What are you planning for and why? These are just some of the questions I start asking myself when I begin thinking about my goals and my future. Figuring out my goals isn’t very important if I don’t know why they are my goals in the first place.
These are questions we often fail to ask ourselves when we’re rushing around to keep up with the day-to-day of life. But the answers to these questions are quite important, and we need to know our own personal answers by heart. The key is to identify your values.
Values are principles, standards, or qualities you consider worthwhile or desirable. Values will vary greatly from person to person. Your values will depend on your personal judgment, outlook, upbringing, and a variety of other factors. What principles, standards, or qualities do you consider worthwhile or desirable? In other words, what are your personal values?
If you cannot answer this question confidently, keep reading. Knowing your personal values is extremely important. If your relationships, behavior, choices, and personal identity do not align with your values, you’re going to continue feeling like something isn’t quite right in your life.
We are easily distracted with all of the busyness and media in our lives today. It’s far too easy to get sidetracked and led away from your values. This is why it’s vitally important to know your personal values. Those values can serve as your compass for the decisions you must continually make. They help you find your place on the map of life.
As Christians, identifying our values and making sure we live them out is doubly important. We must compare our values with God’s values. Wherever they differ, we must seek God’s help in gaining His values and letting them guide our decisions. Then, to truly follow Christ and honor God, we have to actually use those values in everyday life. Simply saying that we value compassion means absolutely nothing if we are not willing to help people in need.
The Role of Values in Personal Finance
Now why would I be discussing values on a personal finance website? Isn’t that more of a personal development topic? Well, yes – it is. But the truth is that your values will have an impact on your financial decisions. There is no use in looking at numbers, giving you advice, or talking about investments until you can list your personal values. That would be like going on a great journey to some unknown land without a compass or any sense of direction. How will you know you got to the place you wanted to arrive?
For a lot of people retirement is a goal. The question I ask is: Why? Why do you want to retire? Well, someday you won’t be able to work because you’ll be older and your health could be declining. You don’t want to be a burden on your family, so you want to plan ahead for retirement. You would also like a time of rest from paid work, when you no longer have to work for money. That’s not to say you won’t be working. On the contrary, you may spend a lot of time volunteering or working for charities. Which gets into another important question. What are you going to do when you retire? And why do you need to wait until retirement to do those things? The answers that align with your values will lead you to a more fulfilling retirement than blindly forging ahead.
As I mentioned above, your values need to shape everything about you if you want to live your life and not the life someone else is telling you to live. Your values must affect your behavior and choices. And your behavior and choices affect your personal finances. Therefore, you must recognize and understand your values before you can really start to work on your personal finances.
For example, let’s say you want to start using a budget to track your spending and find ways to save money. If your values include frugality, thrift, and organization, then this will probably be an easy goal. But if your top values include extravagance and liberation, you’re probably going to run into some problems trying to stick to a budget.
So before you spend any more time reading about personal finance, take some time to identify your personal values. There are a variety of ways to do this. But if you come back next week, I’ll share the method I’ve used. To make sure you don’t miss that article, sign up for free updates to Provident Planning. You can also enter your email address below to get updates sent directly to your inbox.