We all have values we live and work by whether or not we actually spend the time to think about it. Stopping to consider the behaviors needed to meet your values is an important exercise because values are abstract concepts such as quality, timeliness, or integrity. On the other hand, behaviors are concrete actions we each take or don’t take.

I saw one definition of values as “a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.” Whatever values you have require certain behaviors to meet your values. The flipside is that there are many behaviors that are in direct conflict with your values. The challenge is to work to behave in a manner that is in line with your values at all times. Of course, this is harder than it seems.

For example, I pride myself on producing quality legal work in a timely manner. I can draft a quality contract or legal brief within the time frame I need to only if I set behaviors to allow me to meet these values. It may be calendaring when to start work on a project, not just the due date. It may be blocking time to focus only on the project by closing my office door, ignoring emails, and putting my phone on do not disturb (I know this goes against the multi-tasking world we all inhabit these days, but be honest, can any of us truly multi-task well?). If I take these types of actions it is more likely I will meet my values related to work quality and timeliness.

It is a worthwhile exercise to spend time thinking about your values and how you work. Once you can outline the values you have or want to achieve, you then need to spend time on outlining the behaviors that will help you meet each value you have identified. After you take the time and energy to do this, I suggest you keep a list or document of the values and related behaviors where you can review it easily and often. Doing so is an investment in yourself, will help you focus on your values and behaviors, and will give you the best chance to do so successfully.