What are your values?


How would you define your values?

Before you answer, you need to know what values are.

Values are the things you believe that are important in the way you live, work and are.

They should determine your priorities, and you can use them to identify whether your life is turning out the way you want it to.

When your values align with the way you do things you tend to be satisfied and content. However when these are being tested, things might feel out of place, or misaligned. When someone puts your values into question, it can make you feel uncomfortable or unhappy.

This is why it’s very important to consciously become aware of our values, and identify these, and try to live by these on a daily basis.


Values tend to be fairly stable, however these can change throughout your life.

They are things that are within each of us, and they are different for each of us. Don’t feel like your values should exactly match up with those who are closest to, because everyone has things that are most important to ourselves. However, you may notice those who you are close to have similar values, and that’s why you get along so well - for example you may both have the value of adventure close to your heart. Working on yachts would be quite likely to see many people with travel and adventure as a common value to them.

As your definition of success changes, so do your personal values. This is why keeping in touch with your values is a lifelong exercise. You should continuously revisit this, especially if you start to feel unbalanced... and you can't quite figure out why.


Defining Your Values

When you define your personal values, you discover what's truly important to you. A good way of starting to do this is to look back on your life – to identify when you felt really good, and really confident that you were making good choices.

Step 1: Identify the times when you were happiest

Find examples from both your career and personal life. This will ensure some balance in your answers.

  • What were you doing?

  • Were you with other people? Who?

  • What other factors contributed to your happiness?

Step 2: Identify the times when you were most proud

Use examples from your career and personal life.

  • Why were you proud?

  • Did other people share your pride? Who?

  • What other factors contributed to your feelings of pride?

Step 3: Identify the times when you were most fulfilled and satisfied

Again, use both work and personal examples.

  • What need or desire was fulfilled?

  • How and why did the experience give your life meaning?

  • What other factors contributed to your feelings of fulfilment?

Step 4: Determine your top values, based on your experiences of happiness, pride, and fulfilment

Why is each experience truly important and memorable? Use the following list of common personal values to help you get started – and aim for about 10 top values. (As you work through, you may find that some of these naturally combine. For instance, if you value philanthropy, community, and generosity, you might say that service to others is one of your top values.)

Step 5: Prioritise your top values

This step is probably the most difficult, because you'll have to look deep inside yourself. It's also the most important step, because, when making a decision, you'll have to choose between solutions that may satisfy different values. This is when you must know which value is more important to you.

  • Write down your top values, not in any particular order.

  • Look at the first two values and ask yourself, "If I could satisfy only one of these, which would I choose?" It might help to visualise a situation in which you would have to make that choice. For example, if you compare the values of service and stability, imagine that you must decide whether to sell your house and move to another country to do valuable foreign aid work, or keep your house and volunteer to do charity work closer to home.

  • Keep working through the list, by comparing each value with each other value, until your list is in the correct order.

Step 6: Reaffirm your values

Check your top-priority values, and make sure that they fit with your life and your vision for yourself.

  • Do these values make you feel good about yourself?

  • Are you proud of your top three values?

  • Would you be comfortable and proud to tell your values to people you respect and admire?

  • Do these values represent things you would support, even if your choice isn't popular, and it puts you in the minority?

When you consider your values in decision making, you can be sure to keep your sense of integrity and what you know is right, and approach decisions with confidence and clarity. You'll also know that what you're doing is best for your current and future happiness and satisfaction.

Making value-based choices may not always be easy. However, making a choice that you know is right is a lot less difficult in the long run.