Value Based Decision Making
By: Dr. Amy Hyams

How Our Decisions Impact Our Whole-Person Wellness
Every day you make decisions that impact each of the eight dimensions of wellness: emotional, financial, social, spiritual, occupational, physical, intellectual, and environmental.   The job you have chosen, the way you spend your money, your physical activities, your neighborhood, the people you surround yourself with, and how you choose to spend your time all have a significant impact on each dimension of your whole-person wellness.

The most important thing to remember is that each action, behavior, and decision is a CHOICE. You make the choices you do based on what is important to you in that moment.  What you value forms the basis from which you make those choices.

What Are Values?

Before exploring the relationship between your values and decision-making, it is helpful to first develop an understanding of exactly what are values. 

Values are personal principles and individually held beliefs and attitudes that provide you with direction in everyday living.  While some use the terms values, ethics, and morality interchangeably, there are important distinctions. 

Values are not necessarily about right and wrong.  They determine your priorities and are the things that YOU believe are important in the way you live and work. 

While values are relatively stable, they may change as you move through life.   When you were younger, you might have placed higher value on time with friends, success at school, and performance at sports.  However, as you have matured, these things may have become less important and you may place a higher value on things like family, health, financial security, respect, and professional achievements.

The Importance of Values
Successful businesses typically have clearly defined their vision and mission.  To support their vision and mission, they also identify and communicate their principles that describe who they are, what they “stand for,” what is important to them and what they value.  The most successful businesses reflect on those principles and values to help them make organizational, financial, staffing, and development decisions. 

Organizational values are so important because they define and guide how time, money, and energy will be spent.  An organization that does not articulate their values and make them part of the culture has no consistent “road map” to make decisions and measure success.

The same holds true for individuals.  Without knowing what is important to you, how can you decide how to spend your time, your money, raise your children, approach your work, treat your partner, and interact with your community?  Your values provide direction and a road map to not only help improve the quality of your journey, but also know when you have arrived.

When was the last time you really sat down and thought about your values and what is important to you?  It’s possible that you may have never consciously thought this through. 

Identifying Your Values

When you define your values, you discover what is truly important to you.  Whether you recognize it or not, your values have a significant impact on your happiness and whole-person wellness.  More specifically, aligning your behaviors with your values can positively impact your life satisfaction and health.  Conversely, choosing behaviors that contradict or do not match your values can lead to dissatisfaction, stress, and poor health. 

Remember, the identification and reflection on your values is not a “once in a lifetime” activity. It is something you may want to do every few months.  Especially if you are feeling particularly stressed or out of “balance.”  Take this time for yourself to re-set and re-balance your life.  You will be surprised how much more focused and easy decisions will become and your life will more peacefully align.

For information on how to assess your values, and a process to help you make value based decisions to bring your life into balance, see Value Based Decision Making, a course offered in the Employee Wellness Education Series
by Online Learning Strategies.