The main benefit of knowing your values is that you will gain tremendous clarity and focus, but ultimately you must use that new found clarity to make consistent decisions and take committed action.
So the whole point of discovering your values is to improve the results you get in those areas that are truly most important to you.
Values are priorities that tell you how to spend your time, right here, right now. There are two reasons that priorities are important for our lives.
The first reason is that time is our most limited resource; time does not renew itself. Once we spend a day, it’s gone forever. If we waste that day by investing our time in actions that don’t produce the results we want, that loss is permanent. We can earn more money, improve our physical bodies, and repair broken relationships, but we cannot redo yesterday. If we all had infinite time, then values and priorities would be irrelevant. But at least here on earth, we appear to be mortal with limited life spans, and if we value our mortal lives, then it’s logical to invest them as best we can.
The very idea that some possible permutations of your life appeal to you more than others means that knowing your values will be of great benefit to you. On the other hand, if any life you might live is as good as any other to you (saint or sinner), then you can stop reading – you don’t need this information. But most people can certainly envision lives that are more preferable to them than others.
The second reason priorities matter is that we human beings tend to be fairly inconsistent in how we invest our time and energy. Most of us are easily distracted. It’s easy for us to fall into the trap of living by different priorities every day. One day you exercise; the next day you slack off. One day you work productively; the next day you’re stricken with a bout of laziness. If we don’t consciously use our priorities to stick to a clear and consistent course, we’ll naturally drift off course and shift all over the place. And this kind of living yields poor results. Imagine an airplane that went wherever the wind took it – who knows where it would eventually land? And the flight itself would likely be stressful and uncertain.
So for these two reasons – limited time and a typically low index of distraction – consciously knowing and living by our values become extremely important. Values act as our compass to put us back on course every single day, so that day after day, we’re moving in the direction that takes us closer and closer to our definition of the life we could possibly live. It seems reasonable that more health, happiness, wealth, intimacy, peace, love, etc. is better than less.