What do you value most in life? When you are faced with making a difficult decision, what thought processes help you to reach a conclusion? It turns out that decision making is influenced by our own values, and thus we can improve them.

Our values influence decision making

When we reflect on our values and the things that make us who we are, we may be able to further understand some of the decisions that we have made in our lives.

However, the key to understanding our values is to understand how they shift over time. When we experience a stressful life event, usually we walk away with learning a lesson that helps us the next time we are faced with a similar stressor

For example, if you were tasked with fulfilling a deadline at work and you said yes to another opportunity that added more work to your plate because you knew it would be helpful to your colleague, what types of values impact your decision-making process?

Understanding and acknowledging your values is what helps to determine how to make the best decision for yourself in your life. Understanding your values can increase self-growth, happiness, a positive attitude and can help increase resilience to life’s stressors.

Overall, making an active effort to trust your values and know how to utilize them can help shift your mindset on how you view life and increase personal efficacy.

Want to improve your decision making skills?

Start by Creating a List of Tangible Values

[:en]Making a list of tangible values help in decision making[:]

Dr. Steven Hayes, considered to be the founder of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) suggests that when you begin to look at what your values are, it can be helpful to first think of those around you that you look up to and what traits they possess that you admire.

Think of the first person who comes to mind when you hear the words “personal hero” or “mentor”. What traits does that person have? Are they compassionate, patient, and accepting?

When you are able to recognize these traits and important values you admire in others, it often makes it easier to then recognize what your values are. We often surround ourselves with those who have similar traits to our own, therefore, assessing these traits in others, can help us understand our own.

Then, Look at Your Most Resilient Moments

[:en]Resilient moments improve decision making process[:]

What are the moments in your life that were so tough you thought you could not possibly get through it?

After reflecting on this question and creating a list of three to five examples of times when you were resilient and pushed through immense challenges, think about what aspects of who you are helped you to get through.

What personal values aided in your resilience? Was it patience, dependability, or honesty?

Once you have got three to five words down that reflect the values you hold, keep them in a safe place and refer back to them whenever you are faced with making a difficult decision.

Finally, Understand that Values Shift Over Time

[:en]decision making and values change over time[:]

What used to be important to you and what influenced your decision-making process in the past, can look completely different today.

Understand that you are an ever-changing, unique individual and self-growth is required as a human being.  You are not required to always remain the same, in fact, that can be more harmful and dismissive than you might imagine.

When we think about how we have grown as individuals throughout our lives, we recognize just how much our values can impact our decision-making process. Traits that you used to find valuable, may not be of importance or necessity to you now, as you make difficult decisions.

Therefore, keeping an up-to-date list of values that you feel are integral to who you are, can be helpful in understanding how you have grown as an individual through time.

To Wrap Up

Take the time to assess what your values are. If you are having trouble deciding or determining what these values are, try thinking about those you admire. Where do you see yourself in them?

Then, understand where you faced a challenge so big you thought you could not get through it—what aspects of who you are helped you to get through?

Lastly, understand that you deserve to get to change and shift in your life. What was important to you before, may not be as important now. Think about how your decision-making process is impacted by the values you hold and recognize moments of personal growth.

Utilize the Mindshine app (iOS or Android) for assistance in supporting your ability to determine your values and actively incorporate them into your decision-making process to make the best personal outcome.