Our values reflect what is important to us in life. They are often referred to as our personal guiding principles or life goals. While we may have a variety of shorter term goals that are specific to a situation, like getting a job or a promotion, running a marathon, or visiting Hawaii, our values are life-goals that not specific to any one situation. Values guide our behaviour in all aspects of our life, including our home life, our work life and our social life.

Values are important because they guide our beliefs, attitudes and behaviour.

We are not always aware of our values, but knowing what they are can help you more easily make decisions that are right for you, such as taking the job that has good opportunities for variety, change and spontaneity or good opportunities for security and tenure.

For instance, people who place great importance on stimulation in life are likely to seek exciting and new experiences across all aspects of life.  They will look for exciting activities and be willing to take risks or change plans spontaneously, whether they are at work, with their family or with their friends.

In contrast, people who place great importance on security in life are likely to seek safety in their immediate environment and also safety and stability in the wider society. They are likely to avoid walking alone at night, look for stable employment, be concerned about the threat of terrorism and be in favour of preserving law and order in society.

As you can imagine, people who place great importance on exciting and new experiences will find it difficult to understand the choices of people who place greater importance on security in life and vice versa. They are likely to find it difficult to predict each other’s choices, which may lead to misunderstandings, frustration and distrust.

Learning that people can have very different values from yours can help you to better understand others.

Values are important because they can help us to predict each other’s choices, and can help us avoid misunderstandings, frustration and distrust. Understanding that other people prioritise a different set of values that guide them toward different decisions, may help you better understand that their choices may be different from yours, but they may be right for them.

Since our launch in June, over 7,000 Australians have learned about their own values through The Values Project. Hopefully, taking the values survey helped you to think about your own value priorities, and also brought to your attention that others may place importance on different values. Regardless of your value priorities, it is important to understand them as they guide us to achieve our goals.