We all have values that we live by. They are the motivational drivers that help us determine what’s important in life. They give meaning to the things we do. They are individual to us, guide our behaviour, and allow us to feel fulfilment in life.
But we’re not always consciously aware of what our values are. In fact, many of us rarely spend time stopping, thinking, and considering our values.
Not knowing what we truly value in life can lead us to make bad decisions, inconsistent with what we want to achieve in life. It can cause us to escape into bad habits or look for quick wins to uplift ourselves.
It’s easy to dismiss values too. We focus on what our society, culture or community values instead and try to meet these expectations. We don’t spend the time to articulate what our top five values are. And, it takes a lot of effort to know and accept what you value. This will often lead to decisions being made that don’t lead us to live our best life. We hit key turning points in our lives and do what society or others expect us to do. Not what we want to do for ourselves or those we love.
For example, many of us from a young age are encouraged to save for our retirement. We spend the majority of our lives working hard so that we can do all the things we want when we retire. In fact, this is drilled into us so much that we are saving more than we need for retirement, with many people leaving their retirement savings untouched or spend down only a little.
There’s a school of thought that suggests saving makes us feel happy and fulfilled. However, this is just a mask for what behavioural economics calls loss aversion, the observation that human beings experience losses asymmetrically more severely than equivalent gains. This overwhelming fear of loss leads us to make bad decisions, behave irrationally and, ultimately, give lawyers the job of bequeathing our assets to those we love.
Understanding our values can help us make better decisions. In the above example, it can help us reduce our fear of loss and turn it into a positive gain, by giving our money meaning and spending it on something that is truly important to us. Our values help us define what success looks like for ourselves. And when we begin to live a life that meets our success criteria, we feel more fulfilled and happy – even if it means spending the savings we’ve spent years to create.
So, values matter to all of us. They are our guiding principles or guardrails that can keep us on track to living our best life. And, when we achieve our goals we feel a sense of meaning and purpose. We feel good about ourselves and driven to continue to live a life full of purpose.
But defining what you value is hard. There are so many words to choose from. You’re often too busy to stop and wonder what really matters. This is where we come in.
Using a framework based on the eight dimensions of wellbeing, we can help you to uncover what you value in life. We work with you to determine a set of household values then set goals and tasks to help you live a life more aligned with your values. We also keep you accountable, helping you to make decisions that take you closer to achieving your goals. And, we measure how you’re going and help you see the successes and failures, so that we can continue to make the best choices for both now and in the future.
Pete is the co-founder and oversees the investment committee for Pekada. He is a qualified financial planner with 17 years of experience. Based in Melbourne, Pete is on a mission to help everyday Australians achieve financial independence and the lifestyle they dream of. Pete has been featured in Australian Financial Review, Money Magazine, Super Guide, Domain, American Express and Nest Egg.