How to boost your happiness AND success
When I was giving a speech at a recent conference, I asked the audience two questions. “Do you want to be happier?” And “Do you want to be more successful?”
Of course, I’m willing to bet that you too would answer “yes” to at least one of the two questions – if not both.
If you genuinely want to boost your chances of becoming both happier and more successful, I recommend an exercise that is backed by a great deal of science. For example, people who take the time to complete the exercise go on to get better grades in their exams. And people who complete this exercise report feeling less stress during anxiety-provoking tasks such as giving presentations.
So what’s the exercise?
I call it a key values audit, and it involves working out an answer to the question: “What’s most important to me in my life?”
If you want to give the exercise a go, take a look at the following slide (again, from workshops and presentations I’ve given). The words in black are values that many people have identified as being important to them. You need to follow the instruction at the top of the slide: rank your values first. So make a list of the values with number 1 for your most important value down to at least 10 or 12 for your lesser values. Don’t worry too much about the ones that rank even lower than that.
Many research studies have found that writing about your most important value for just a few minutes can give you an immediate boost. It may buffer you against stress, for instance.
But if you want to get even more out of the exercise, consider investing just a bit more time by writing about your most important values. That could be your top 3 or 5 or 6 or 7. It’s up to you how many you wish to write about. Write about what each value means to you personally. Yes, many people may say that their “family” is important. But what might it mean for you?
When you’ve written a paragraph or two about each value, finally ask yourself: “To what extent am I living a life that’s in line with my values? And what would I like to do from now on?”
Doing the exercise well isn’t something that you can do quickly. It may involve writing and putting it aside for a few days, then returning to it again and again to revisit your thoughts. But so many clients have told me that the key values audit has helped them to make really important changes in how they live their lives. It has helped them to be happier, to feel more authentic and more fulfilled in their careers too.
I wrote about authenticity and values in a previous post too. So feel free to have a look at that too if you’d like another perspective on the topic.