Your personal values are essentially a summary of what you value in life. In even simpler terms, they symbolise what is important to you.
I never used to think about my personal values. But, when I did, I realised why they’re so powerful.
When you do your values, you essentially need to do a lot of self-reflection. You need to ask yourself some meaningful questions and answer them honestly. The exercise encourages you to look at your life and start getting mindful about what is important to you – whether that is your family, spending time in nature, being creative or cooking.
Keep reminding yourself, your values are personal to you
When you do your values, it can be easy to get lost in what you think you should value… your head and the outside world’s expectations take over. I encourage you to, in the process of discovering your personal values, to keep pulling yourself back to YOU.
In a way, try moving out of your head and into your heart. Who are you? And what feels right and meaningful for you?
That’s the beautiful thing:
Your values are 100% unique to you. They are an exercise in self discovery.
Focus your attention inward and try to forget the expectations or commitments of the outside world.
It’s time to move out of your head and into your heart. It’s time to move out of your mind and to start listening to what makes your spirit happy.
This is time you’re dedicating to connecting with yourself, tapping into your inner knowing, and basically defining what is truly and deeply important to you.
In the end, when you have your 3-5 personal values list, you should feel a connection to each of them. In a way, they should be an expression of who you are, what’s important to you, and an indication of the kind of life you want to live.
How can you use your values in your life?
As you get clear on your values, they can help you in a variety of ways.
To help you make decisions.
There are often SO many options out there. And it can get overwhelming and stressful to have to choose between things. In order to free up space in your life for what is truly important, you need to be more decisive and learn how to say no to things that don’t align with you. Here is where values come in. Lay your options on the table, and then bring out your values. This will help you see which options will guide your life in a more meaningful direction.
To help you free up time in your life for what’s important.
This is very linked to the above point but it’s worth highlighting. When you feel like you are always so busy, stressed or have very little time for the things you truly love, it can feel frustrating. This could be a time to look at how you spend your time, and where you can create more space in your life. It’s tough to remove things off your list, but if you’re serious about creating space, it has to be done. Values make it easier to do this – they help you prioritise and say no to things that don’t align.
To infuse meaning into your goals.
The WHY behind your goals is what really motivates you, especially when it gets tough. When setting your goals, short term or longterm, bring out your values and see how you can align them.
To bring you a feeling of more joy and fulfilment into your life.
When you start acknowledging your values, and you take action in your life that aligns with them, it really nourishes you. It feels good, and you really start to design a lifestyle that works for you.
To help get you back to your happy centred place.
Sometimes, if I start feeling moody, out of balance, anxious or I get into some other not-so-good place, I use my values to help me think of ways to get me back to a better place. For example, one of my values is minimalism – I like to keep things simple. But, sometimes I take on too many projects, fill up my diary and start feeling out of sorts… then I think about simplicity and it inspires me to clear out some space to just be and have more stillness. This really helps me get back to a good place.
So there are many ways you can use your values.
In general, they help direct your life in a meaningful direction.
Particularly because they align YOU with the ACTIONS you take, and inevitably the LIFE you lead.
As you make lifestyle adjustments, based on your values, you start to really shape your life in a very meaningful way. And as a result, you feel happier and a lot more fulfilled.
Exercises to help you figure out your personal values
Now that we know that personal values basically summarize what is deeply important to you, it’s about how on earth to figure them out…
There are many resources and exercises online to help you out. However, I wanted to share a few exercises I’ve done that have helped me figure out mine.
I’d recommend taking some quiet time out to do these exercises. An hour at least.
Exercise 1: What is important to you?
If you want to take a deep dive into creating your values, you can start with Demartini Value Determination Questionaire. A dear friend and fellow coach, Jeanne, shared this with me a little while ago. And it’s pretty interesting to do. At the end of the 13 questions, it makes it easy to sort and categorize your answers. And in the end, you have a shortlist of the top values. I had 9 values in the end.
After doing the Demartini Questionaire, you may be completely happy with your set of values. However, you may be like me and want to explore further. If so, keep scrolling.
Exercise 2: Answer some reflective questions:
Get out your notebook and answer some or all of the questions below.
What is most important to you? Without thinking too much, write down the first things that come to your mind
What makes you feel inspired, excited and energised?
What are the things in your life that you must have?
Think about one of the happiest times in your life… What were you doing? Who were you with?
Think about some of the highlights in your life. Did you feel happy, fulfilled or proud of yourself? What was so special about this time?
Is there a specific thing or topic you are deeply passionate about? Something that stirs you?
If you summarized yourself in 5 words, what first comes to mind?
How would you like to be remembered?
Take a moment to mindfully read over what you wrote, and highlight or circle any similar words that come up a few times. Pay attention to any patterns that are coming up.
And, consider how your answers relate to your result from the above Demartino Questionaire. You’ll likely see links.
Exercise 3A: Choose 10 values that resonate with you
I found this to be a fantastic exercise, as it gave me ideas of the kind of words I’m naturally drawn to.
I put together a comprehensive list of examples of values. There is lots of variety.
Look at the list below and select the 10 values that you deem most important to you. The ones that you connect with, and feel strongly about in some way. You can also print this list out and physically highlight or circle them.
You should now have a list of 10 words/phrases that you resonate with.
Exercise 3B: List your top 5 in order of importance
Now it’s time to refine your list. to your top five. This can be one of the most difficult steps.
Remember this is a fun self-discovery exercise. Don’t be hard on yourself and let any of this overwhelm you. Just have fun with it.
Start by prioritising your list of 10 without too much thought.
Then, work your way from the top to the bottom, looking at two values at a time that are listed under one another. Consider, if you had to choose one of them, which one would you choose? Whichever your choice will rise to the top. This will help you find focus and re-arrange the order if necessary. This exercise is really helpful when it comes to prioritizing.
For example, if your top 3 values are listed as – Family, Health, Travel – First look at Family and Health – if you had to pick one of them, which would you choose? If it’s Family, then you know Family is first. Now, compare the next 2 – Health and Travel – if you had to pick one of them, which would you choose? If it’s Travel, then Travel moves to the seond spot. And on it goes, down your list of 10, until you have your top 5.
You should now have a list of about 5 values now.
Exercise 4: Put it all together and choose your top 5
When you have your top 5 from the about exercise, refer back to all the previous exercises. Layout your results from all exercises and take it in. Are you seeing any similar words or ideas? Are there any patterns?
Now it’s time to actually decide on what you want your 5 personal values to be.
With everything in front of you, look for the patterns and similarities and categorize them. You’ll notice that many say a similar thing, and it’s about what words feel the most meaningful.
At this stage, you should have your 5 personal values listed.
Side note: There is no ‘perfect’ amount of values to have. I just find 5 offers a good variety but doens’t get too extensive and overwhelming. DO what feels right for you – whether it is 3, 5 or 7 🙂
Exercise 5: Re-validate your top values
With these 5 values, it’s time to ask some questions to make sure they feel right:
When you read these values, how do they feel? Do they feel aligned? Do they feel good?
If you think about how you live, and how you want to live, in all areas of your life – food, physical activity, career, home environment, relationships, social life, general lifestyle – do they feel aligned?
Are you proud of these values? Would you comfortable and proud to share these values with those who you admire?
Do these values give you a boost of inspiration and zest to live life?
If yes, great!
If one or more of them doesn’t feel right, or you feel like something is missing, make the necessary changes until it feels right.
Remember, these are your personal values. Forget the outside world’s expectations for a moment, and just zone into what feels good and aligned for you.
Exercise 7: Sleep on it
If you’ve done all the above exercises up until this point, brava!
Now is the time to put it away and let it simmer. Just like in yoga, after a routine, you lie in savasana. This is a chance for your body to absorb the practice. Let these values settle in your mind, and in a day or even a week, return to them and see how you feel. Do they still resonate?
You’ll often hear that your values don’t change… However, as you’re growing and figuring them out, it’s normal for them to change a bit. There is also the life you’re living now vs the life you want to live… that definitely plays a part. So don’t’ be afraid to allow your values to evolve with you. Over time, as you start considering them when you’re making life decisions, certain values start to really stick, and then you know they’re solid.
Are you ready to discover your personal values?
If you haven’t discovered your personal values before, I encourage you to give these exercises a go. Defining what’s deeply important to you is such a valuable exercise. Take the time out for some self-discovery and do all of these exercises
Explore, and have fun discovering more about yourself and the life you want to live.
With your personal values in hand, your goal setting and decision-making are going to get a whole lot easier and more meaningful!
Once you’ve got your values, share them in the comments. I’d love to see them!
Keep shining xoxo Sian