I was recently challenged to investigate and/or identify my values. “Sure” I said, “I can do that”. So, I started, as we all do these days when attempting to “research” something… I went on-line. Mostly there are long lists that one can sift through and pick out the “values” there identified which would seem to fit one best. How weird is that? I looked at a few of these lists and noted similarities and of course differences among them depending probably, on the purpose of the list I suppose. In addition there were often exercises attached to said lists, the gist of which all amounted more or less to the same thing. Pick out the “values” you most identify with, and then make a new list. Come back to that list at another time and gradually whittle it down, depending on the purpose of the exercise I guess… I am uncertain if the point is to somehow identify that one, singular, Holy Grail of values that once identified can be the guiding light for everything in one’s life. I am dubious. It all seems a bit absurd.
Where do our values come from? Are they tied in some way to our morals (wherever those come from)? Might they not change depending on our situation? Might they not be influenced by our state of mind at a given time? Also, might we not have certain values as relates to home life, personal life, work life, our past, our families, our friends, our faith? Might they not be influenced by any and all of those experiences as we go through life? Then, pending that one carries out said exercise and identifies either a list of values, or potentially a single, exclusive value… then what? Is one supposed to then evaluate how one’s life, behaviors, actions, pursuits, desires, what-have-you, relate to those values now identified? Or conversely is one then armed with the means to alter one’s pursuits and/or behaviors to presumably become more content with one’s life and self?
In addition to lists, there are tests. Well, that is not quite right as there are still lists, but in the case of these tests, one is typically directed to go through the lists and rank things, a process which is typically followed by some sort of computation whereby some sort of result is derived in the form of some sort of classification; a personality type or style, or some such. Earlier today I was thus defined as a near equal split between being “Concrete Random” and “Abstract Sequential”. I am still not entirely sure what to make of those… The next one was about identifying “work values” and I was thus identified as being “Conscious” and “Compassionate” in my views of how life at “work” (read in this case “a job”) should be… or something. The next one asked me to rank a series of statements based on how important they were in my view of life… or something. The scores were then tallied up and grouped into “10 broad domains of values”. The scores are then placed on a scale within the categories which “graphically” place one’s score into areas of low, medium, and high importance. I had one score on the boundary of medium and high (Universalism), two in the upper range of medium importance (Self-Direction and Benevolence). I tied in the low end range between Conformity and Tradition, and bottomed out the lowest end in the Power domain.
So then I did go through one of those list exercises. There were a hundred plus words and I set a three minute timer and circled the ones that seemed important as I went through the list. Then I copied those to another list and crossed out a few either for clarification or seeming duplicity. I was left with twelve “values”. They include such concepts as Wisdom, Romance of Life, Respect for Individual and Others, Meaning, and Orderliness.
So, at the end of the day what do I have to work with? Well it would seem that there are themes of equality and order, of structure yet without control or confinement, concern for others but with an emphasis on individuality, a desire for understanding and appreciation of “the world”…
And then I stumbled onto this…
…for me, Dismay
I started the day by going back to work after an extended “furlough”. That is, due to the shenanigans of certain “lawmakers” in Washington, myself like many hundreds of thousands of… oh, never mind. I am sure you know all about it already. The reason I brought that up is not to highlight the going back to work but rather the reality of not having “work” to go to for over two weeks. As I discussed with a friend and coworker this morning, this experience was really quite different from taking a vacation. With the latter, if nothing else the timing is planned. There is a defined end date and throughout the whole time one is ever increasingly aware of the painful fact that this time will end. This recent situation was different however in that it was not scheduled, and thus there was no planning. Also, there was no defined end date, and thus no sense of duration.
It was – for me at least – glorious. I fully recognize the problems it caused for the country and for many thousands – even hundreds of thousands – of people. Yet I was offered a guilt free time to not go to “work”. I did not have to be concerned about having enough vacation time or that there were things not getting done at the office. It was not my choice. And I loved every minute of it. When the news came over the wireless last night that the game was on again I could almost perceive the collective, nation-wide sigh of relief. The feeling for me, Dismay…. And this said a lot to me. Especially given the thoughts I have been juggling in relation to the a fore mentioned “challenge”.
So now, I have but to ask, “what’s next?” for, it would seem that in the present something is a bit off kilter…
 This is the wording that my counselor uses when she gives me some sort of “homework” as I call it…. Yes I go to counseling. With the way that I experience the world I am uncertain why everyone does not go to counseling.
 This test was the Gregorc Style Delineator which is “designed to help reveal a special set of qualities and mediation channels available to you for handling the demands and opportunities of life.”
 According to the Schwartz’s Values Scale… I will refrain from making any obvious references just now.