Why Values are Important to Being Informed

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I love Canadian politics and current affairs. I love them because I value being informed and having knowledge.

Our personal values dictate the choices we make in life. When we are clear on our values and know what we stand for and what’s important to us, we make decisions that align with that. 

A value, in the way I refer to it here, is a quality or principle that guides action or behaviour.

Over the years I have spent a significant amount of time going inward and determining what my values are. I ask myself what qualities are important for me to live by, to be the person I want to be, and that will help me accomplish the things I set out to do in my life. I also look to people I admire, and consider what it is about them that makes me want to emulate them. What values do they hold close, that makes them who they are, or gives them the foundation to live a certain way? 

It is my belief that we, as women, consume information, in particular information about politics and current affairs, but really this could apply to any information we want to consume; we ought to know what we stand for as we consume and learn. The reason I believe this is important is that there is so much information out there to consume. We need to know who we are and what we stand for as we begin to learn, so we can distinguish and analyze what aligns with what is important to us and ultimately what we value.

If you are clear on what your values are, what is important to you and you use them to guide you in your life, good for you! You are doing amazing!

If you are new to values and are unsure how to begin to determine what yours are, welcome! You are doing amazing too! Below are some ideas to help you start your values journey. Examining what values are important to you may take some time, but it is worth the effort and will begin to provide a foundation for how you move forward in your life.

Grab your favourite notebook and pen or if you prefer an electronic option, open a notes app on your smartphone. Set a timer for 10 minutes and write down everything that has meaning for you. What lights you up? What makes you feel most connected to yourself? What fills you with purpose? 

I would offer that anything that is important to you, can be a value for you. There are no right or wrong personal values. If you have come up with a list of more than 10 values, I would suggest narrowing it to about three to five. This makes it easier to begin to implement the values into your daily life. Your values can guide you as you interact with others and make decisions, big or small.

If connecting with yourself to determine your values is challenging at this time, try this instead, to get started. Think of one to three people you admire. Write down their names. Reflect on the qualities and characteristics of these individuals whose names you wrote down. As you think of the qualities, write them down. How do they treat you and others? What qualities endear them to you? What characteristics do they exhibit that makes them someone you want to emulate? 

When you review the list, determine if the values you see in others are ones that you want to have for yourself? Pick three to five values and as I propose above, begin to apply the values to your daily life and see how they fit. You can always adjust or realign your values to better meet your needs.

Now that you know your values, you know what you stand for. You can take this knowledge about yourself and apply it to how you consume information. 

I know your time is valuable and there is a plethora of information out there. Here is what I suggest on how to consume information that will best serve you as you begin to pay attention to political and current events

Based on your values, determine what political topics are most important to you. Here’s a list to get you thinking (this is by no means exhaustive!): Business/industry, childcare, climate action, defence, the economy, energy, government finances (ex. deficits, debt), government regulation, government spending, healthcare, human rights, Indigenous affairs, infrastructure, immigration, international affairs, jobs, justice system, national security, racism, taxes, youth, women’s affairs/rights, work.

I know this may seem like an overwhelming list. Read each topic aloud and see how it resonates with you. You know what your values are, what topic aligns with them? Is there an area of public policy of politics you’ve wanted to know more about? Is there a topic that intersects with an aspect of your life?  

Pick one or two topics, and then when you are consuming news or information and you see the topic of your choice appear in a headline, newspaper article, podcast, evening news show or social media post, click on it and read it, or listen in more closely to learn more. Pick something that speaks to your values, that excites and energizes you and that you want to learn more about and perhaps over time, even engage in, in some way. Throughout your day, as you have information readily available to you, seek out or focus on what’s most important to you.

We are fortunate in Canada to have so much information available to us. Let’s know our values and then use them to be informed and engaged citizens.

Jennifer Mancini

Jennifer Mancini

Jennifer Mancini is the creator of Life and Politics with Jennifer. A website dedicated to helping Canadian women learn to be informed about Canadian politics and current affairs so they can assess the impacts of public policy for their lives and their families. She hosts a podcast called This Democracy. Jennifer spent 16 years in the financial services industry serving high net worth individuals. She lives in Toronto with her husband.

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