Businesses often go through changes, and one great way to know if you’re on course is to look back at your values proposition from time to time. I know that some businesses do this yearly or more often, and others know theirs so well they don’t even have to look at it, and can recite it to you. It’s a great touch point for all kinds of decisions that need to be made. If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner, it’s a great idea to dust yours off and look at it or take some time to think about writing one now if you haven’t previously.
I also recommend writing a values proposition for your life, whether you’re a business owner or not. A personal values proposition is a great way to examine the course you want your life to take and a great support to setting goals for your future. Many of the external trappings of life change quite often, but our values tend to remain stable over time. Checking in with core values is a great way to determine how to make difficult decisions when the opportunities arise. It’s also a great way to show others what you stand for and decide what you want in your life – and what you don’t.
Start with looking a list of core values. You can find one easily online or in a book. (Here’s one site, but there are many more: http://corevalueslist.com/) Start by marking all the values that you think are right for you or that you would like to embody. Then begin a process where you pare the list down to 6 or 8 core values. Fewer, such as four, are better, but I don’t want to make it too difficult. This may take some time, and I recommend using friends and family to help you if you need it. It may be difficult to decide which values really represent you, and you may let go of some that are rather important. You can always go back and readjust if you think you didn’t get it right.
Once you’ve settled on a small number of values, see if there’s a way to organize them into order of importance. Again, this may be difficult because it is hard to choose between two values, that’s why you chose them in the first place! Really think about what the values mean to you or your business and how you act them out every day. Core values are things that we live from, so go back to the drawing board if you don’t see yourself living from those values now or in the future.
The values proposition itself is the final step. Write a mantra or statement that you feel you can live by using your core values. This may take a few iterations, so be patient with yourself. There may be other phrases out there that cover what you’re trying to live, so feel free to incorporate them if you’d like. This should be something that is simple and can be repeated. It should be something that makes sense to you, but has wider appeal so that you can use it in all sorts of situations.
Once you have your values proposition, write it out and put it in a place where you can see it several times a day until you have it memorized. Use it to guide your goals for the future and to make decisions, big and small!