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  • Writer's pictureAli McNab

Identifying your Personal Values

Our values are the things that are true to us, that we hold paramount in our lives. Our beliefs and standards.

They help define who we are.

Everyone’s personal values are different.

In the everyday interactions we have with each other and the world around us, our values influence our behaviours and impact how we show up to ourselves and to others; what we say and do, and how we say and do it!

When a situation arises that contradicts or misaligns with our values we might feel uneasy, dissatisfied, and frustrated.

If we don’t understand our own system of values, we may feel confused by our emotions and reactions when our values are compromised. We might respond in a way that we feel is "right" or "expected" but which in fact conflicts with our values. This can have a significant impact on our well-being, self-esteem and self-belief.

Understanding your own personal values and how they complement or rub against the values of others can help you to;

  • interact and work with people and your environment in a more healthy, positive way

  • understand why others may react to situations in a different way to you

  • increase your awareness of why you feel joy or frustration in particular scenarios

  • make choices that will steer you through your life in a satisfying way

  • strengthen your self-confidence, self-belief and trust in your own beliefs and opinions

Identifying your personal values - 30 minute exercise

This exercise is all about self-reflection. It is useful when you're feeling a conflict or uneasiness about an area of your life.

Give yourself 30 mins somewhere you will not be disturbed to follow these steps:

1) Brainstorm: Scribble down what you already think your values are. What is important to you in your life and work? Write as many things you can think of.

2) Answer the questions below and add to your scribbles anything that isn't already there:

a. What makes you happy or brings you joy? (your desires or passions)

b. When do you feel most confident and content. What values are ignited in these moments?

c. Think about times you felt uneasy or frustrated. What values might have been compromised in those situations?

d. Imagine someone you respect. What do you admire about them? What traits do they possess that you value?

e. What 3 words would you love to hear someone describe you as?

f. What 3 things you would never want to give up about your life?

3) Look at all you've written down.

Where you see similarities and links group them under a word or phrase that resonates with you.

4) Pull out the 10 words or clusters of words that you feel most strongly reflect how you would like to live your life.

5) Now try honing it down to the 5 that are most important to you.

Take time to really feel what they each mean to you.

Ask yourself, if you had to leave 5 behind what would you be left with?

6) Got your top 5? How do these feel?

Write them down and stick them on the wall or somewhere you will see them every day!

Simply knowing what your values are can be eye-opening and empowering, you will begin to see how these play out and impact your day-to-day interactions with people and the world around you.


Ali McNab works with people who want to make positive change in their lives and experience a more balanced, fulfilled and meaningful life or career. Ali supports them to build confidence, self-belief and self-awareness so they can do this with purpose and clarity.

Ali works directly with individuals and with charities and social purpose organisations supporting their approaches to staff well-being and growth.


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