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Value Alignment: The key to an authentic life



Have you ever played Billiards? Though it’s not as physical as football, it’s still a game requiring a lot of skill. When taking a shot, both the cue ball and the billiard ball you intend to pocket have to be perfectly aligned in order to accomplish your mission and win the game. If the balls are left misaligned, however, you risk missing the shot and losing the game entirely. This same basic principle is at work in value alignment.  


What is Value Alignment?


Value alignment, or simply alignment, is created when your actions, goals, and habits are compatible with your core values. It involves an intentional effort to guarantee that your actions, both personal and professional, are in harmony with your ethical standards and values. Aligning your actions with your beliefs ensures that what you do in your day-to-day life reflects the values you hold most dearly. 


Why it matters: Alignment vs. Dissonance 


Aligning your actions to your core beliefs grants you the freedom to live an authentic life–a life that is wholly and truly yours. When practicing alignment, you’re able to build a lasting trust with others–and with yourself. Living in alignment with your beliefs can also contribute to a sense of fulfillment and purpose. When your actions are guided by what you believe in, you are more likely to feel that your life has meaning and that you are contributing to something larger than yourself. Without this mind-action connection, you can experience an inner conflict that disturbs your peace and authenticity.


Incongruence between how you feel and what you do can lead to an unpleasant inner turmoil referred to as Cognitive Dissonance in modern Psychology. For example, someone who values environmental sustainability yet takes no action to reduce their carbon footprint may experience an internal struggle of self. Or, someone who knows smoking is unhealthy and deteriorating their health, yet continues to smoke, will likely experience this dissonance.


If you isolate your beliefs from your actions, one of two things can happen: 1. Either your actions become simply reactionary to events, in which case there’s little room for personal growth and goal achievement; or, 2. Your actions become a reflection of someone else’s beliefs rather than a reflection of your true self, leading to further dissonance and inner mental turmoil. If you want to live a more harmonious, authentic life, the way is clear: align your actions, goals, and habits to your core values.


Tips for establishing alignment


1. Clearly define your values

It’s nearly impossible to align your actions to your beliefs unless first establishing what those beliefs are. Deciding and defining your personal beliefs involves a large amount of introspection. Start by reflecting on your personal experiences, and what you find meaningful and important in life. Consider the principles and beliefs that guide most of your decisions and actions. It can also help to think about the qualities and behaviors you admire most in others. You may want to write these beliefs down, creating a ‘personal mission statement’ that clearly defines and outlines your core values.


2. Practice self-reflection

A large part of recognizing whether your values and actions align comes from recognizing yourself. The practice of self-reflection allows you to pause and analyze the various aspects of self in a more unbiased and unattached way. Understanding why you think and act the way you do can give you the clarity you need to better visualize and put into action alignment.



3. Learn the art of accountability

The art of accountability is incredibly important when analyzing our actions. Without taking an accurate, unbiased account of what we do and how we do it, we can’t practice alignment. To live an authentic life, we must be authentic with ourselves. That starts by taking accountability of our goals, actions, and whether or not they reflect our values.



4. Identify your value conflicts

In your journey to alignment, you may find certain areas, goals, or habits in your life that seem to compete with or contradict your values. Identifying these ‘value conflicts’ is both eye-opening, and essential. Discovering what and where we are most in need of alignment allows us to better focus our efforts and create lasting habits that reinforce our core beliefs. 


5. Set clear boundaries

Boundaries are incredibly important across the board. Developing a stable set of boundaries will ensure that your actions never stand in contradiction to your values. 


Say you strongly believe that Sundays are not for work, but for rest. Yet, every Sunday you’re asked to work for just a few hours or attend an online meeting. This misalignment may seem small, but could lead to greater struggles–both inside and out. Setting a clear boundary may be just what’s needed in this case. Boundaries further establish our values and declare to the world what we are and aren’t willing to do in a given circumstance. Resolve today to establish and adhere to a clear set of boundaries.


6. Seek feedback from those you trust

Feedback, both negative and positive, is incredibly valuable. From it, we’re better able to understand how our actions affect and are perceived by the world around us. If you’re looking to create a stronger alignment between your actions and values, ask for feedback from someone you trust. The unbiased perspective of a trusted acquaintance may provide you with helpful insights on blind-spots and problem areas you’d never know about otherwise. 

 



When your beliefs and your actions are perfectly in sync with one another, you experience an essential form of harmony necessary not only for peace of mind, but for a successful and authentic life.  


For more insights into alignment and becoming your best self, check out these complimentary resources.




© 2024 The Growth Group, LLC - All rights reserved

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