Identifying Your Personal Values

What are Personal Values? 

Life presents an endless series of decisions, large and small, that require you to make difficult choices.  While many factors are involved, often the critical decision factors are balanced with your core values.  Values are principles that represent your highest priorities and deeply held driving forces and beliefs. They give your life meaning and allow you to persevere through adversity. 

Why Should I Identify My Values?

When you know what you value, you can live in accord with those values and experience greater fulfillment as your decisions are shaped aligning with those values. Similarly, because you know your values, you’ll recognize what happens they’re stretched and tense and how your behavior reacts in response to that tension. 

Understanding your most deeply held beliefs forms the foundation for creating a life that brings you happiness, fulfillment, success, and even joy. They provide the cornerstone that we each need for guidance in clarifying important goals, purposes and choices such as: 

  • What job should I pursue?

  • Should I accept this promotion?

  • Should I start my own business?

  • Should I compromise, or be firm with my position?

  • Should I follow tradition, or travel down a new path?

Exercise: Your Personal Values

Grab a notebook for some digital-free writing. Give yourself quiet space, no distractions, and the gift of at least an hour to reflect:

  1. Consider and describe the following:

    1. What have been your three greatest accomplishments?

    2. What have been your greatest moments of efficiency/success?

    3. What are any common rules or themes that you can identify from these moments?

  2. Consider and describe the following:

    1. What have been your three greatest stretch moments when you didn’t succeed?

    2. What have been your moments of inefficiency/struggle?

    3. What are any common rules or themes that you can identify from these moments?

  3. Based on these common rules and themes, and using the list below, identify 3-6 values that best summarize the principles that represent your highest priorities and deeply held driving forces and beliefs. This list is meant to be a guideline - if you have values not on this list, then make them your own!

values2.png

4. Now for the fun part: taking your values on a test run. Write your values on a stickie and put it on your bathroom mirror. Every morning and evening for the next few days, notice how they show up during your day-to-day life, the decisions you make, the times you feel comfortable (values are aligned with the environment) and the times when there is conflict (your values are not aligned with the environment), and how your behavior reflects those alignments. Based on your observations, what clarifications or adjustments might you make to your values list? 

Know that this process requires mindfulness and time. If it helps you, discuss the process and your values with someone you trust and who knows you well. Get honest feedback, and adjust your values accordingly. 

Once you have your values finalized, commit them to memory - in your mind and in your heart. They will serve you well in all aspects of your life.