Two of the most important arenas for humans to engage are their values and their vision. They are intimately linked. And the differences are subtle and slippery, but vitally important. One of the mistakes we make as humans is turning values and vision into synonyms. We don’t see a difference. Which is to say, we don’t truly understand either. But a true perspective on the relationship of values and vision brings color and life to both, enabling us to live more effective and meaningful lives.
The Beginning – A Very Good Place to Start
If you are pursuing awareness for your life, the place to start is with your values. Why? Because values are all about self-awareness. They are about discovering truth in our lives.
When I get angry at my wife, it is not because of the random act she has done, even if it is overtly wrong. In fact, a lot of the things she does wrong affect me little and are quite easy to forgive. It is not an objective moral stand that gets me riled. What makes me angry is the perceived attack on (at least) one of my values.
If I can name my values, it helps me to see through the layers and discover the truth about what is triggering my emotional responses.
This is the beginning of the journey, not the end.
The mistake we often make is to set our values as our vision. So, for example, if my anger toward my wife reveals I have a value of safety, I might be very tempted to construct my whole life around safety. It is, after all, what matters to me. Isn’t saying that I value something the same as saying that is what I should be pursuing?
For starters, we never have just one value. Our experiences, upbringing, and natural disposition have manifested a host of values. I might value security. But I might also value truth.
To pick one of our values as a vision is a kind of idolatry. We’re chasing a shadow of the full truth. To try to chase all of my values at once is impossible, confusing, and potentially antagonistic.
Values are direction arrows. We need them to help guide us on the way. But if we set up camp there, we have missed the point and won’t ever reach our true destination.
Vision is the purpose for our lives. And our values are not our purpose. They are the influences that help determine our emotions. They also lead us to a vision.
Our values hold up our vision. So, if my values include safety and truth, I’ve got to figure out what the purpose is for those values and how I can pursue it. What are those values propping up? Vision is a conglomeration of our values. It’s also it’s own separate thing.
My vision might be goodness. My value for security and truth and harmony and creativity help to serve the purpose of my vision. They are the ways my vision manifests itself. A couple might have a vision for unity, while its values are communication, joy, and intentionality. Vision is the what and values are the why.
Life can be confusing if we do not allow values and vision their proper place. If we try to swallow one with the other, we lose the full potential of both.