Values, Beliefs, Actions – The Ripple Effect

Tuesday January 3, 2012

Happy New Year everyone!  Hope your holidays were wonderful!  I’m starting the year off with a blog post on a topic I’ve written about several times before – your beliefs.  Only, this time, I want to talk about them in context of your values and how what you actually believe about your values will impact actions you take (and do not take) in your life and your career.

We all have core values; those things we live by and hold at the forefront of our lives; things like family, integrity, security, community, peace, etc.  Our values typically do not change too much throughout our adult life.  They may shift in priority a bit but, for the most part, they remain constant. It is the beliefs we hold about our values that are more malleable and are also what drive and cause a ripple effect in our behaviors.

For example, a colleague and good friend of mine has a core value of providing for and taking care of her family.  As long as I’ve known her, she has held this value and lives her life to be able to provide for and take care of her family.  Although she struggles with the amount of time she has to travel and spend away from her family because of her current high-level position, she remains steadfast in continuing to live her life this way because of her value around what it means to provide for her family.

If we peel back the layers a bit, we may discover that the reason she continues to choose to remain in a role that keeps her apart from her family so much is because she believes that in order to live according to the value of providing for her family, it means being in a high level and highly stressful position which requires a lot of travel.  As long as she believes that is what is required to be true to her value of taking care of her family, she will continue to take actions that align with those beliefs. However, if her belief were that in order to take care of and provide for her family, she needed to be physically present more than she is away from them, her actions would also shift to reflect that belief.  We are all true to our values based on the beliefs we have about them.  And, it is the beliefs about what you value that will drive your behavior and the actions you take to be true to those values.

I think the start of the New Year is a perfect time to do some self-reflection around these types of things.  What are your core values and what do you believe about them?  Are these beliefs propelling you into action that serves you?  Chances are the actions will be in support of your values but ask yourself whether the beliefs you hold about your values are truly in support of how you want to be acting and spending your time.  Then, if necessary, shift those beliefs accordingly.  You may be surprised at what happens and how one little shift in belief causes a ripple effect with your actions.

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