The Sport Psychology Blog
What's important to you? Have you ever stopped to think about that? I am going to talk here about how values can and should be an anchor with which you can guide your behaviour and achieve your own version of success in every moment. I'll start this off with a bit about nerves, because I love how Dr Steven Hayes introduces values in this quote:
"Life is a choice. Anxiety is not a choice. Either way you go, you will have problems and pain. So your choice here is not about whether or not to have anxiety. Your choice is whether or not to live a meaningful life." - Steven C. Hayes (2005)
The above quote really helps summarise the intentions of value based work. We don't choose the way our mind operates, how it responds to pressure and what can trigger certain uncomfortable reactions. It is important to recognise this. The way our brain reacts to certain situations is a culmination of the experiences we have had, and our genetics. It is not our fault.
When working with clients, I want them to understand themselves and understand their triggers so they can develop the ability to be able to choose the RIGHT action, and to do so decisively.
The right actions are chosen by examining what you value. Values are a way of putting into words all the things that we live for, what gives our lives meaning. I once asked an audience in a workshop I was doing what they thought values were, and someone said: "Values are what we stand for..." That's a great, simple definition of values! It's the things that we really hold as important, not the goals or the dreams we have, but the ideals and the core beliefs about what we hold to be important in this world.
"When living by our values becomes the definition of success, it means we can be successful right now." - Russ Harris (2011)
How great is that! Hopefully that's a new way of looking at success that isn't based on goals. You can be the best you in any moment!
In this blog, I am deliberately talking a lot about values in terms of your whole life. Because, ultimately, although I am geared towards helping people perform better, the values you hold for yourself and your life outside of your sport will likely transfer. So unless you transform into a completely different person when you perform, its probably beneficial to begin thinking about values in terms of your life as a whole.
KEY POINT: Values are actually about DOING not about feeling.
It is really important to look at your values in terms of actions, not feelings or specific states of mind. When you uncover your values during this week, you will think and feel certain ways but it is the actions that those values make you think of, that are important.
For example: Suppose you have already recognised that you really do value being a hard worker. That's great! But this shouldn't be something that makes you feel good or bad about yourself, the point of identifying this is to help you then go and find opportunities to work hard. So when you've come up with some good values, always ask yourself: what actions will bring this value to life, what things could I go out and do right now that would be valued actions. If you can't think of any actions that a value might require, then it may not be a good one!
Feeling a certain way is not a value.
Another thing to be aware of is that thinking or feeling a certain way is not a value. For example, if you had the value of: "I want to be more confident" or "I want to feel calm" or "I want to feel relaxed"....then you have got it wrong.
These feelings are great but they're not something we can realistically get in touch with, they're not a direction or a way to live your life. They are not something we stand for. You can't go out and do something NOW to live those values, although you can go and do something that is intended on trying to create those things. That's different, and if we do that, we are going to live our life chasing certain feelings, which is a difficult roller coaster to ride!
The pattern of avoidance behaviours can then come into play, people will chase good feelings but in doing so not actually achieve their goals. Think about it, if you wanted to run a marathon and your ultimate "value" and goal was to feel good whilst running, then as soon as the going gets tough and the fatigue sets in, you'd stop! Of course you would, because your goal was to feel good and as soon as discomfort arrives, we are naturally going to look for the easiest ways to get rid of it...we avoid the situations that bring on the discomfort!
Having a values based approach might be different. You might value "persistence" and during those times of stress and discomfort, you can definitely get in touch with that and carry on!
Get in touch if you want to talk more about how a values based approach could help you!