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  • Writer's pictureAli McNab

Identify and Understand your Personal Values

Our values are the things that are true to us that we hold as paramount in our lives. Our truths and standards. Our fundamental beliefs. 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!

Living our life in line with our values can help us lead a content and fulfilled life. When we behave in a way that contradicts or misaligns with our values we can feel uneasy, dissatisfied and frustrated, and we may not realise why.


If you want to live by your values you need to know what they are and what they mean to you

Identifying your values and understanding why they are important to you will help you make choices that will steer you through your life in a wholly satisfying way.

It will increase your awareness of why you act as you do and why you feel joy or frustration in particular scenarios.

It will help you make sense of why you view yourself and those around you in a certain way and why others may react to situations in a different way to you.

Understanding your own personal values and how they compliment or rub against the values of others can help you interact and work with people in a healthy and positive way.


Identifying your personal values - 30 minute exercise

This is an exercise I do with my clients if they are feeling a conflict with their values or an uneasiness about an area of their life that they can't quite put their finger on.

I suggest you set yourself 30 mins somewhere you will not be disturbed to do this exercise - it's all about self-reflection!

1) Write down what you already think your values are. What is really important to you. Write as many things you can think of. Don't worry about whether you are actually living by them (we'll come to that later), or whether they are a “value” or not, just write down what is important to you.

2) Think of times when you felt confident, happy, content or fulfilled. What was it about those moments that made you feel like this? What values did those moments ignite? Add them to your list.

3) Think about times you felt uneasy or frustrated. What was it about those moments that made you feel like that? What values might have been compromised in those situations? Add them to your list.

4) For further inspiration, look at the words here ↴

Which jump out as ringing true to you? Add them to your list if not already there.

5) Now sit back and look at the words you've written down.

Where you see similarities; group them under one word or phrase that resonates with you. Change the words to suit you if necessary.

6) Now, pull out the 10 words or clusters of words that you feel most strongly reflect how you would most like to live your life.

7) Take some time to look at what has emerged and how it feels. Is this a satisfying cluster of values to live your life by? If not go back to step 6 and see if you’ve left anything behind.

8) Now go through each of these 1 by 1, really feeling what they each mean to you. What does it really mean to have that value in your life. Pull out the 5 that are most important to you.

9) 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 you will begin to see how these play out and impact your day to day interactions with people and the world around you.

If you want to go further and explore how you can strengthen the way you live by your values then try the next exercise:


How can you better live by your values? - 20 minute exercise

1) For each of your top 5 values score, 1 to 10, the extent to which you feel you already live this value.

10 = “I fully live this value in my day to day life”

1 = “I do not currently live this value at all”

2) Focusing on the lower scores first, think about what you could be doing more or less of in order to really be living those values. What could you stop doing or continue doing to ensure that value is fully represented in your life.

3) Log your thoughts, maybe in a table like this:

Or in your own visual that works for you.

Do you feel commit to the changes you have identified? If not ask yourself why, adjust them to make them more realistic and achievable for you.

Reflect on these changes/actions periodically (monthly, 6 monthly - whatever works for you) to see how you are doing and how it feels.

Remember: When it comes to our Values, there is no right or wrong - only who WE are!


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