Would you rather own a home or spend a year traveling the world? Have a steady paycheck or a flexible schedule? Put money away for retirement or splurge on an expensive gift? For many of you, the answer was obvious, but your answer depends on your values and beliefs.
If you value security and stability, you’re less likely to find splurges or a year of travel as appealing as someone who values variety. That’s how values and beliefs determine your decisions – and your decisions shape your life. So what’s the difference between values and beliefs? Once you truly understand the difference, you can leverage them to create a fulfilling life.
While we often talk about them interchangeably, there are some big differences between values and beliefs. Your values are the principles you live by. They’re the standards that you set for yourself about what is good, fair and meaningful in the world. They determine what you seek out and what you avoid, what you enjoy and what you find draining.
Your values directly influence your actions. They affect your behavior and character in your day-to-day life and are related to your needs. Whatever you feel is missing from your life – or is most important to you – is what you value. These things give us a better sense of fulfillment and well-being.
Your beliefs, on the other hand, are facts that you accept to be true, often without question. They’re formed throughout your life and are influenced by the way you were raised, positive and negative events in your life, the depth and scope of your knowledge, the past results of your decisions and your imagined plan for the future.
Beliefs are usually a generalization that affect your morals or values, mostly related to religion or culture. They are an acceptance that something is true or that something exists, even without concrete proof. These assumptions about the world grow from different sources.
Beliefs underlie and influence your values. You may believe that contributing something new and different will be what makes your mark on the world. The value that corresponds with that belief is creativity. You may believe that friendships and connections are more important than anything else. The underlying value there is loyalty.
In the debate over values vs. beliefs, one thing can get lost: they are not always healthy. Many of us have developed limiting beliefs during childhood and over our adult lives that we’re not even aware of. Limiting beliefs are thoughts like “I’m not deserving of love” or “I’ll never be good enough,” and they don’t represent your true values. You must surface these negative thoughts and replace them with empowering ones that speak to your real beliefs and values.
Learn more about how our values shape our decisions below:
Not sure what your values and beliefs are? You’re not alone. Many people go through life without ever figuring out what is meaningful and impactful to them. This is one of the reasons why people become distracted by power or material wealth. They lose track of what truly matters. We never find out why we are the way we are and end up pursuing someone else’s idea of success.
If you need a little help determining your core values, you can start with this list of values and beliefs:
While this is not a comprehensive list of values and beliefs, it will get you thinking in the right terms and help you decide what you will focus on today.
Knowing the difference between values vs. beliefs and identifying your own core values is the key to creating a life of meaning and passion. When you stop basing your decisions on what others think and determine your own priorties, life becomes filled with purpose.
As Tony Robbins says, “Every decision in your life is controlled by your values and beliefs.” The first step in creating the life you desire is recognizing the power of your beliefs. You must understand that your beliefs shape your decisions, actions and destiny. Identify your existing belief systems: Are your thoughts positive or negative? Constructive or destructive?
Negative and destructive beliefs are the result of the influence of others. Once you’re aware, you can begin to reshape these negative beliefs into empowering ones that serve you. Let them reflect your true values, rather than values others place on you. You can also strengthen the positive beliefs you already possess. Use these beliefs to actively guide your decisions and take the power away from destructive beliefs.
Using your values to guide your decisions goes back to understanding what drives you. What causes you to take action? What’s the driving force behind your goals? Are you someone who seeks thrill or stability? Do you gravitate toward pleasure or pain? What gets you out of bed in the morning feeling energized and joyful?
By examining these invisible influences, you can redefine the power these forces have over your life. This will help you reset your intentions toward success and joy – instead of misery and suffering – ultimately helping you to live a more fulfilling and successful life. It’s up to you to shift your focus to your top beliefs and values because as Tony says, “What you value determines what you focus on.”
Your personal beliefs and values deeply affect how you create and maintain healthy relationships. Relationships can be a major source of joy and love, but they can also cause intense disappointment and sadness. Your limiting beliefs about yourself and others are magnified when you enter a relationship, and that means that your values are also magnified. When two partners find themselves debating values vs. beliefs, or when limiting beliefs prevent them from finding real connection, the relationship is unlikely to last. Finding someone who is aligned with your values and shares your beliefs is a step toward a stronger relationship.
Values like significance and appreciation can manifest negatively in relationships. For example, if you are drawn to conflict as a validator of attention in a relationship, you will seek that feeling of significance in damaging and dangerous ways. It’s hard to admit when your values aren’t serving you, but if you are able to see the pattern and shift your mindset to believe that relationships must be nothing but positive and loving, then you’ll see that reflected in your bonds with others.
According to Tony Robbins, “Whatever you hold in your mind on a consistent basis is exactly what you will experience in your life.” Now that you’ve recognized that you’re guided by your values and beliefs, use your power to change them. When your beliefs and values are more aligned with your true self, you can create new rules to live by.
It’s time to envision a life you’re insanely passionate about. A life that would fulfill your wildest dreams. A life that can only be achieved by reassessing your current value system. Recognize how your beliefs are affecting your values. Then create a custom life plan to achieve it. Include your new mission/purpose in life and a list of values and beliefs that help you achieve that mission. Then you will have ways to set new goals for yourself.
By now you have a clear vision of your beliefs and values. You know what you want your life to look like. You understand that each thought and action in your day are leading you to fulfill your destiny and create an extraordinary life. You know how to control your beliefs instead of letting your beliefs control you. By reevaluating your method for choosing values and decision-making, you’ll be armed and ready to create the life you crave.