I thought today would be a great day to answer a common question I hear from my clients;
Can (or will) my Core Values change over time?
My response: Absolutely! It’s how you know you’re moving into a new phase of life.
When I was younger, “family” and “responsibility” were two of my top five Core Values. I was raising kids and spent a lot of time with my direct and extended family. We even took all of our vacations together. I could not imagine not putting my family first, nor did I want to.
But, now in my fifties, my life focus has shifted to “personal development” and “spiritual growth”. It’s not that family is no longer important to me, but since my sons are now grown and living their lives as independent adults, the emphasis on responsibility and caring for them has moved down the scale a bit and been replaced by Core Values that more accurately reflect my current situation.
Okay, I know I’m going to get bashed here, but this is where I believe a lot of people tend to trip themselves up in life. If they ever did have clarity about their Core Values (and that’s a BIG IF), they don’t reassess them as time goes by to either re-validate or re-calibrate them to be in alignment with their current-life circumstances.
What can happen if we don’t allow our Core Values to shift?
I believe this is a common problem that is most dramatically illustrated by “empty nesters” trying to run their adult kids’ lives. They’re still clinging to the values like responsibility and control that were necessary while parenting youngsters. But, trying to exert that kind of influence with grown adults is not only futile, it’s hindering both their and your ability to acknowledge the reality of one phase ending (childhood) to make room for a new beginning (autonomy).
How will you know when it’s time to re-evaluate?
When you start to feel like your Core Values aren’t serving you (and the people around you) in the same way any longer; don’t throw them out completely. Re-assess. Chances are good that you’re moving to a new phase in life and have a whole new batch of experiences opening up before you. This is the perfect time to weigh and shuffle your Core Values, if necessary, and then change your goals and actions accordingly.
In case you’re having a difficult time “feeling” it, here are some examples of transitions where Core Values re-evaluation might be beneficial:
- Job and Career transitions (first job, new career focus, starting a business, retirement)
- Relationship transitions (getting married, getting divorced, the passing of a family member)
- Living Situation transitions (new city, new home, downsizing, etc.)
- Family transitions (having children, kids going to college, kids getting married, grand kids)
Will all of my Core Values change?
Sometimes we go through a life transition that has a profound impact on how we relate to life. In that case, all of your Core Values might shift. It’s more likely, however, that they will simply be re-ordered, or that one or two may be replaced with more timely and appropriate choices. For example, Honesty/Integrity has been (and continues to be) my #1 Core Value for my entire adult life. I don’t see that changing any time soon. Other values, however, have stepped down in order to make room for more authentic ones to surface. It just feels good!
So, if you’re Core Values are feeling a little outdated, restricting, or stress-producing, it might be time for a Core Values makeover.
After all, isn’t life always more fun and fulfilling when lived in alignment with your Core Values? The correct answer is, YES, Kim!