Your Self-ideal

Your self-ideal is the person that you would most like to be. This is a composite of the values you feel are the highest you can have and live by. Your self-ideal is shaped by the qualities you most admire in yourself and other people. Sometimes you can clarify your self-ideal by asking yourself what you would look like and how others would describe you if you become the finest person you could imagine becoming.

  • EXERCISE 1: I often encourage people in my seminars to write out a personal mission statement based on their values, vision, mission, and purpose in life. I then asked them to write out a eulogy, a description of the person they became over the course of their lifetime that would be read at their funeral.
  • EXERCISE 2: Here\’s another exercise. Imagine that you have died and have left instructions for people to write two words describing you on your headstone. How would you like most to be remembered? What to descriptive adjectives? Would you want people to apply to you?

Values clarification and values definition is something that very few people ever engage in, but all superior men and women are very clear about what they stand for. You need to be clear as well. You need to think through not only your values but also the order in which you would place them.

  • Rule. The rule is that a higher-order value always takes precedence over a lower-order value, especially when a person is under pressure.

For example, if you say that your top three values are your family, your health, and your career. This order means that you would always choose your family over your health and career and your family and health over your career. But imagine another person with the same values but in a different order.

This other person also values family, health, and career, but he puts them in the sequence of career, family, and health. This means that he would choose his career over his family and his career and family over his health. Let me ask you, will there be a difference between the first person and the second person? Would there be a difference between the person who says, my family comes before my health and my career, and the person who says my career comes before my health and my family?

And the answer is, of course, there would be an enormous difference.

The change in the ordering of the values would make these people into two totally different personalities. They would be so different that you would instantly recognize either one and a few moments of conversation. The first person would have values that would lead to a happy life. At the same time, the second person would have values that would lead to continued frustration, unhappiness, and imbalance.

Once you have thought through your values, you then look at your actions and your behaviors and ask yourself, Do my behaviors align with my values?

You can tell what you truly believe only by looking at it. What do you do when you are forced to choose. You\’re always free to choose your actions whenever you choose; you are making a value statement for the entire world to see. Many people find that although they pay lip service to their family, their relationships, and their health, they\’re very quick to sacrifice them or relegate them to secondary importance when their demand for work or an opportunity for material success arises.

However, if your goals and activities are not congruent with your values, your whole life gets out of balance. You cause yourself emotional stress. You become angry and frustrated. You lash out at people around you. You become short-tempered and irritable. You will often suffer from insomnia.

Being out of balance too long will cause you to get colds, flu, and other ailments. Severe imbalance can lead to life-threatening illnesses like heart attacks, strokes, and even cancer. For these reasons, it\’s vitally important that you clarify your values and then live by them.