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Identify your values

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

1: Begin by circling any of the values below that are truly important to you, personally

and professionally. Feel free to add other values not on the list. Some values may seem similar – choose the word that most resonates for you. If you can, choose intuitively, what does your gut say?

2: Reduce the number of circled words from Step 1 to 20 individual values:

  • Combine any that are similar

  • Ask yourself which hold the highest priority for you?

Now list them.

My main 20 values are:

1. 11.

2. 12.

3. 13.

4. 14.

5. 15.

6. 16.

7. 17.

8. 18.

9. 19.

10. 20.

3: Identify your top 5 values:

  • Ask yourself “which of these has to be present for me to feel happy/fulfilled/satisfied?”

  • Ask yourself “would I be happy/fulfilled/satisfied if this value were not present?”

  • Ask yourself, what does my intuition tell me about this? What does my gut say?

If you have any values that are essentially a synonym for each other choose the one you prefer and eliminate the other. Eg. Change and Transformation. Which do you prefer? Does one just feel that little bit more important? Does one feel better? What does you guy/intuition say?

Can you eliminate any values because they are essentially a subset of another of your values (this is subjective of course and entirely according to your own definitions and feelings). E.g. Laughter and Joy. You might decide that you can eliminate laughter because Joy is a higher level version of it. Or you might eliminate joy because if you are laughing, you are by necessity joyful.

  • Avoid ending up with a collection of slash-values. For example: happiness/joy/laughter. This will not help you make the very most of your values because you can’t focus or give energy to aligning with a set of slash values like this. Pick one word (or phrase). Or let your gut/intuition help you get clear on which is The One. Which one pops when you look at it, or gives you warm(er) feelings when you think about it?

Now prioritise these 5 in order of most important to least important. A strategy for tackling this if it's tricky is to compare any 2 of your top 5. And then imagine you can have 100% of one of those values. As much of it as you could ever want. But the cost is you can have absolutely none of the other. Which one do you keep? Put the keeper at the top. Repeat the process with the first keeper vs another of your values. Keep going until you have compared all of them. You now have an list in order from 1 to 5.

My top 5 values are: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Some thoughts about values now you know yours.

Don’t compare your values to other people’s. They are not you. You are not them. Their values are not better. You cannot live a truly aligned life acting with someone else’s values. Learn to love yours!

Don’t get judgey with your values. Sometimes when we do this exercise in good faith and/or intuitively – we end up with a value or two in there which we have feelings about. And not 100% positive ones.

Examples I’ve encountered where people have reservations:

Some people who have Feeling Valued on their list judge themselves or worry about others judging them as needy or not independent enough.

Some people who have Ambition on their list judge themselves or fear judgement as being self-centred or grandiose.

Some people who have Wealth worry that they’ll be seen as selfish or greedy.

I know it took me a while to stop judging joy and effortlessness as my primary values for being too lightweight or shallow. Especially compared to people with making a difference or justice or equality on their list. But these are my values, and accepting them and learning to love them and make the most of them has been one of the single most important factors in every leap in income or expansion in my best work that I’ve made in the 15 years I’ve been a coach with a values led practice.

And finally – no your values don’t really change over time. Certainly not your top 2.

And you don’t have a set of values at work and set of values elsewhere either. You are who you are. All the time. And your best self is you aligned with and acting from those values as often as is possible.

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Tamara Gal-on: Identify Your Values
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