The word value can be both a noun and a verb. As a verb it is to consider something having value or estimating monetary value. As a noun, it can mean everything from the degree of lightness or darkness of a color to a numerical amount to the worth we place on something. It is also defined as a person’s principles or standards of behavior, judgment of what is important in life.
In my sociology classes, I have my students write about their personal values and then determine who and what has influenced those values. I also ask them to consider if those values may change over time.
I have learned a great deal from those essays over the years. I have learned that values can change over time, with changes in culture and with our own maturity. I have also learned that fundamental values, like moral values, don’t really change all that much over time. So the answer to the question “do values change over time?” is yes…and no.
What are your values? I value time, integrity, relationships, learning, my spiritual beliefs, and many other things that I won’t bore you with here. What I would like to suggest is that you take some time to identify, clearly, what your values are. We have talked about our personal or life mission and we have talked about the vision that we have of what we want our life to look like. Values are an integral part of this process. If you stay within your values, you will be happy and feel that your life has been purposeful. When we stay within our values, we don’t have regrets.
Something else I have learned about values is that sometimes we take on other people’s values as our own. It is important to notice if the values you honor are yours, your family’s , your church’s, your culture’s, etc. I am betting it is a combination of those and that is okay. You just need to understand where your values come from and if they fit who you are today. Sometimes we try to make ourselves fit into someone else’s value system when it isn’t authentic to who we really are and that is never comfortable or easy.
Take a moment and write down your values. Where do you think those values came from? Are you living by them most of the time? Do they fit your vision and your mission? If you can answer yes to those questions, then you are right on track!