Friday, January 15, 2021

Using Personal Values To Determine Vision


Using Personal Values To Determine Vision

I'm digging into the work of exploring my word of the year this month and laying out plans for how to live it out through the year. Typically, once I have decided on my word of the year I will begin a planning process that looks something like this:
  • Research the word's meaning - using multiple dictionaries, finding synonyms, quotes, etc.
  • What is my reason for choosing this word? What is my 'why'? 
  • Based on my personal values and my "why", what is my vision for the year ahead with my word?
  • What are the intentions I need to set in order to see that vision become a reality in my life this year?
Determining your  personal values is probably one of the most important things you can do. Even if you have not taken the time to determine them, you are probably already living by them without realizing it. Some of us live by the values we were raised with. They may not have been articulated, but as children we tend to 'catch' them as we grow. Good or bad, our values are often shaped by the environment of our family life. As adults, then, we have the choice to keep those values or determine and shape our own. I have held onto some of the values I was raised with - such as good work ethics. But in my childhood the environment of my family was shaped by alcoholism, dysfunction and emotional instability leading me on a journey through my adult life of healing, faith and becoming healthy. That journey has also included replacing many of the unhealthy values I held onto from my childhood with ones that I have determined to be healthy to guide my decisions and plans.

Values are the things that matter the most to you, the things you believe are most important for the way you live your life. Values serve the purpose of defining our 'why'. They help us set our life purpose and make decisions. Values are like a behavioral compass; they can help us react to different situations and can help guide our actions. Let me share my core values and then give some examples of how they work.

My core values are:
  • Faith first. For me, that means using the words and ways of Jesus as my guidelines for life. Matthew 6:33 "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness" has long been a guiding verse for me. 
  • Doing flows out of being. Who I am guides what I do. Character matters in how I live my life. The Apostle Paul gives us this example in how he lays out many his letters; he gives a theological foundation for who we are in Christ before he gives us instructions on how we are to live. 
  • Wholeness is the goal - seeking health in spirit, mind, body, emotions (Luke 10:27). Over the past few years I have used each of these areas as a guide to set my intentions.
  • Authenticity. I highly value honesty and being real. I want the outside to match the inside. I want congruence in my life - that what I say and what I do are the same. It may not always be pretty, but it is character shaping.
  • Life long learning. Especially in the pursuit of spiritual formation, but other areas too. I dig in and research everything to fully understand things and compare them with how they line up with the truth of God's Word. I am always curious!

I have others but these are the core ones, the ones that shape what I do and how I do them. So, for example, because I value life-long learning it means I am always digging deeper. One of the main reasons I have selected rhythm as my word for 2021 is because I want to explore more deeply the rhythms of Christ - His words and His way of living. Honestly, in this past year that was full of division and hatred in the midst of a major crisis, I continually found myself thinking of how Christ would react. How would He handle the hate filled words and actions that flood social media? How would He address the constant finger pointing and fighting? How would He act in the midst of so many people dying, being sick, mourning loss, losing jobs, going hungry, feeling that they live with injustice? So I want to study His rhythm of life through the gospels and described by the writers of the New Testament letters. With core values of faith first and authenticity, I want to respond to the things going on in the world around me based on Christ's ways - not by the ways of the culture, or the ways of any particular political party, or any other outside influence. I made a decision over 30 years ago that my life would be rooted and grounded in Christ and that His ways would guide my ways. It is a life long process of learning.

Here's my main why for selecting my word for this year, my vision for what I would like to see in my life with my word: To study and know the rhythms of Christ's life and to examine the rhythms of my own, tweaking and developing the daily and weekly rhythms that help me stay focused on my values for becoming who I want to be.

"Are you a reflection of your values?" ~Sarah Jeffrey

Now, in order for my life to be impacted by my word and my vision for my year, I need to set intentions that will help me live out my word as well as my core values. I read the following quote the other day but could not find a reference for who said it, but it's an important one to note.

"It's one thing to have values, it's another thing to actually live then out."

We can say we have values, but if we don't actually live them out they are only intended or inspirational values. My personal value of authenticity and congruence motivates me to set intentions that can be lived out and shape who I am. Next week we'll look deeper into setting intentions and what the difference is between intentions and goals.

So, do you have personal values that help define who you are and why you live as you do?

Do you use your personal values to help determine your vision for the year?

If not, why not spend a little time in the next week and think about what those things are that are most important to your life? What drives why you live the way you live? What are the things you believe in the most? 

What is the reason you chose the word you did for this year? What is your vision for your life as you live out this word?

Feel free to share in the comment section below or in the Words Art & Faith Group on Facebook.




  1. Hello Mary, thank you for this much needed push to get me to examine my values. Thoughtful post.

    1. Thanks so much, Jan! I appreciate you following along. :)

  2. Love the quote by Emily Freeman 💜