Exploring Personal Values

August 12, 2022

Exploring personal values helps to increase life satisfaction, improve decision-making skills and boost self-esteem (what we think of ourselves). Choosing values-based actions can deepen these benefits; cultivating a sense of self-trust and self-worth (feeling and knowing innate worth). Values impact how we respond to situations and how we set goals in life. Personal values work is about exploring what is important to your true self. One of the most influential factors in overall life satisfaction is practicing personal values in day to day living. In other words, living your life the way you truly wish to, cultivating a life worth living. This happens when our actions match what we authentically believe is important in life. Values are a way of living. We can apply them to everything we do.

“Values are your heart’s deepest desires for how you want to behave as a human being. Values are not about what you want to get or achieve; they are about how you want to behave or act on an ongoing basis.”

Russ Harris

One of my mentors once described values like a horizon. We are always walking toward the horizon, admiring the sunrises and sunsets, but we never quite get there. We can be aware of the essence and experience of the horizon, but we cannot arrive at it. The journey is in the experience and there is no end until we stop living.

values are personal

Photo by Rafael Leão on Unsplash

There are no “right” or “wrong” values, perse. Personal values are…well, personal. They will be unique for everyone. What feels “right” for one person may or may not feel “right” for another. So, values work asks us for some honest soul-searching efforts. In turn, values work provides us with incredibly powerful awareness and wisdom. In my opinion, it is well worth the time and energy.

If you’re interested in exploring this work for yourself, here is a simple exercise to get you started:

personal values exploration exercise

Photo by Keenan Constance on Unsplash

Please review the values list worksheet (download below or by clicking right here) and note all the values that seem very important to you. Try to choose at least 8-10 very important values. You may also wish to note values that are somewhat important and not so important as you go along. A lot of values worksheets recommend using a key or symbols of some sort (such as V for very important, S for somewhat important, and N for not so important). Personally, I like to color code mine (green for very important, yellow for somewhat important and red for not so important – for example). You can use whichever system works for you, or come up with your own.

If you prefer to do the process in another way, please follow your heart and do what you feel is best for you in this moment. The important thing is to reflect on your values, and try to identify them, however you wish to do that. If there are values that are not included, you may wish to create/add your own, as well.

As you’re choosing your values, it may be helpful to ask yourself questions such as:

What is important to me?

At my best, which of these values would I be practicing?

Are there people whom I love, admire or feel inspired by? What about their values do I appreciate?

It is important to remember that sometimes our behavior doesn’t match our values, and that’s okay! That’s why you are doing this exercise. It will help to gain more insight and develop ways to increase values-based living going forward. So, definitely notice which values you are strong in practicing, and which you may want to improve…However, try not to “give up” important values because they are difficult to practice or because you feel or think you can’t do it for any reason.

Really reach for the stars here and think about your best self and your best life.

Who do you want to be?

How do you want to be remembered?

Carrot cake caramels chocolate tiramisu donut chocolate cake. Marzipan gummi bears caramels.

Sugar plum soufflé candy canes cheesecake pudding jelly.