As I described in Part 1, your values are what is important to you, what matters to you, what you care about. They are a set of guidelines or standards for how we want to live our lives.
You may not have really thought much about them before – most people haven’t. Often it’s only when our values are compromised that we realise how important they are to us and the role they play in our lives.
People who live their lives according to their values are more fulfilled, more confident and more content. They know who they are and what is important to them. Our values underpin our sense of identity and help us make decisions by enabling us to prioritise what is important to us in life.
People who are less clear about what their values are or are forced to compromise on them feel frustrated and sometimes even depressed, as Peter, who I described in Part 1, did.
Working Out Your Values
In this post I describe an exercise which will help you to work out what your values are. This might be an exercise you do over a period of a few days or weeks – it may, indeed it should, require some degree of personal reflection.
Start by brainstorming a list of things that are most important to you in life. Try to reduce your answers to a single word or two, rather than a sentence. Try not to have more than about 10 to 15. If you do have more, take out the less significant ones or try to combine very similar values into one overarching value. These are your core values.
If you need ideas, look through the list of values below. But remember, this list is by no means exhaustive. You may have values that don’t appear on this list.
Abundance / Acceptance / Accessibility / Accomplishment / Accountability / Accuracy / Achievement / Acknowledgement / Activeness / Adaptability / Adoration / Adroitness / Advancement / Adventure / Affection / Affluence / Aggressiveness / Agility / Alertness / Altruism / Amazement / Ambition / Amusement / Anticipation / Appreciation / Approachability / Approval / Art / Articulacy / Artistry / Assertiveness / Assurance / Attentiveness / Attractiveness / Audacity / Authenticity / Autonomy / Availability / Awareness / Awe
Balance / Beauty / Being the best / Belonging / Benevolence / Bliss / Boldness / Bravery / Brilliance / Buoyancy
Calmness / Camaraderie / Candor / Capability / Care / Carefulness / Celebrity / Certainty / Challenge / Change / Charity / Charm / Chastity / Cheerfulness / Children / Clarity / Cleanliness / Clear-mindedness / Cleverness / Closeness / Comfort / Commitment / Community / Compassion / Competence / Competition / Completion / Composure / Concentration / Confidence / Conformity / Congruency / Connection / Consciousness / Conservation / Consistency / Contentment / Continuity / Contribution / Control / Conviction / Conviviality / Coolness / Cooperation / Cordiality / Correctness / Country / Courage / Courtesy / Craftiness / Creativity / Credibility / Cunning / Curiosity
Daring / Decisiveness / Decorum / Deference / Delight / Dependability / Depth / Desire / Determination / Devotion / Devoutness / Dexterity / Dignity / Diligence / Direction / Directness / Discipline / Discovery / Discretion / Diversity / Dominance / Dreaming / Drive / Duty / Dynamism
Eagerness / Ease / Economy / Ecstasy / Education / Effectiveness / Efficiency / Elation / Elegance / Empathy / Encouragement / Endurance / Energy / Enjoyment / Entertainment / Enthusiasm / Environmentalism / Ethics / Euphoria / Excellence / Excitement / Exhilaration / Expectancy / Expediency / Experience / Expertise / Exploration / Expressiveness / Extravagance / Extroversion / Exuberance
Fairness / Faith / Fame / Family / Fascination / Fashion / Fearlessness / Ferocity / Fidelity / Fierceness / Financial independence / Firmness / Fitness / Flexibility / Flow / Fluency / Focus / Fortitude / Frankness / Freedom / Friendliness / Friendship / Frugality / Fun
Gallantry / Generosity / Gentility / Giving / Grace / Gratitude / Gregariousness / Growth / Guidance
Happiness / Harmony / Health / Heart / Helpfulness / Heroism / Holiness / Honesty / Honor / Hopefulness / Hospitality / Humility / Humor / Hygiene
Imagination / Impact / Impartiality / Independence / Individuality / Industry / Influence / Ingenuity / Inquisitiveness / Insightfulness / Inspiration / Integrity / Intellect / Intelligence / Intensity / Intimacy / Intrepidness / Introspection / Introversion / Intuition / Intuitiveness / Inventiveness / Investing / Involvement
Joy / Judiciousness / Justice
Keenness / Kindness / Knowledge
Leadership / Learning / Liberation / Liberty / Lightness / Liveliness / Logic / Longevity / Love / Loyalty
Majesty / Making a difference / Marriage / Mastery / Maturity / Meaning / Meekness / Mellowness / Meticulousness / Mindfulness / Modesty / Motivation / Mysteriousness
Nature / Neatness / Nerve / Noncomformity
Obedience / Open-mindedness / Openness / Optimism / Order / Organization / Originality / Outdoors / Outlandishness / Outrageousness
Partnership / Patience / Passion / Peace / Perceptiveness / Perfection / Perkiness / Perseverance / Persistence / Persuasiveness / Philanthropy / Piety / Playfulness / Pleasantness / Pleasure / Poise / Polish / Popularity / Potency / Power / Practicality / Pragmatism / Precision / Predictability / Preparedness / Presence / Pride / Privacy / Proactivity / Professionalism / Prosperity / Prudence / Punctuality / Purity
Rationality / Realism / Reason / Reasonableness / Recognition / Recreation / Refinement / Reflection / Relationships / Relaxation / Reliability / Relief / Religiousness / Reputation / Resilience / Resolution / Resolve / Resourcefulness / Respect / Responsibility / Rest / Restraint / Reverence / Richness / Rigor / Routine
Sacredness / Sacrifice / Sagacity / Saintliness / Sanguinity / Satisfaction / Science / Security / Self-control / Selflessness / Self-reliance / Self-respect / Sensitivity / Sensuality / Serenity / Service / Sexiness / Sexuality / Sharing / Shrewdness / Significance / Silence / Silliness / Simplicity / Sincerity / Skillfulness / Solidarity / Solitude / Sophistication / Soundness / Speed / Spirit / Spirituality / Spontaneity / Spunk / Stability / Status / Stealth / Stillness / Strength / Structure / Success / Support / Supremacy / Surprise / Sympathy / Synergy
Teaching / Teamwork / Temperance / Thankfulness / Thoroughness / Thoughtfulness / Thrift / Tidiness / Timeliness / Traditionalism / Tranquility / Transcendence / Trust / Trustworthiness / Truth
Understanding / Unflappability / Uniqueness / Unity / Usefulness / Utility
Valor / Variety / Victory / Vigor / Virtue / Vision / Vitality / Vivacity / Volunteering
Warmheartedness / Warmth / Watchfulness / Wealth / Willfulness / Winning / Willingness / Wisdom / Wittiness / Wonder / Worthiness
Prioritising Your Values
Once you have your list of values, attempt to put them in order of their relative importance to you. For example if you have both ‘recreation’ and ‘spirituality’ on your list then they are both clearly important aspects of your life. But which one is more so? If you could only satisfy one then which would it be?
Defining Your Values
For each of your values, write a guideline that you can follow, live your life by and make decisions with.
Value: . . . . . . . . . . . .Humour . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
What this value means to me and the way in which it affects how I live my life:
. .I think having the ability to appreciate humour is one of man’s
greatest gifts. I love to laugh and to make others laugh. It definitely
makes life richer and can make even difficult times more bearable . A
life without humour wouldn’t be much of a life for me. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Reviewing Your Values
You should by now have a list of your core values and a description of what each one means to you and how it affects your day to day life. Hopefully going through this process will have helped you to clarify what is really important to you in life.
From time to time you should repeat this exercise as your values are likely to change. Though there may be some values that remain the same whatever age you are, what you value and hold dear as a teenager will to some extent be different to what you value as you approach retirement.