Why values are important and how to easily identify them

One of the first things I work on with new clients is helping them to identify what is important to them and to come up with an associated set of core values.

Values are the non-tangible things that you have passion and belief in that you can feel and resonate with rather than touch and hold.  They are what drive your intention and action.  They are not aspirational; instead they are truly unique to you and as such there is no right or wrong, they just are.  They make you who you are and they can change over time as your experiences evolve.  Core Values are a subset of your overall values that have powerful heart and meaning, shape who you are and underpin what motivates your attitudes, decisions, reactions and overall behaviour.  Developing an awareness of your own unique set of core values and having insight into what others value is key to knowing what you want and getting clarity, creating successful relationships, developing the ability to engage with impact, controlling your emotional reactions and feeling fulfilled.  

To begin the process of surfacing and identifying your own set of core values think about a time when things felt ‘just right’, revisit and be with that moment in time and get really curious about why things felt that way by asking yourself and noting down the answers to the following questions:

What were you doing?

Who were you with?

What was happening?

Where were you?

How did you feel?

How were you reacting?

How were you being?

What about this moment made everything feel ‘just right’?

Review your list and highlight 5 or 6 key phrases/words that you are really drawn to that resonate and feel more important than the others.

Each of these words or phrases can then be broken down into word strings to create a unique definition of the value as it relates to you.  As an example ‘Achievement’ is a Core Value of mine but to really get a sense of what that means to me I’ve broken that down further into the word string below

Example Value: Achievement

Starting with ‘achievement’ and asking ‘what does achievement mean?’ leads to the next word in the string –  ‘Success’.  Next I ask the same question with the word ‘Success’ – ‘what does success mean?’ which leads to ‘getting things done’ and so on creating a final word string that looks like:  

Achievement / Success / Getting things done / Having impact / Making things happen 

Here is a similar example with another of my core values – ‘Freedom’

Freedom / Doing it my way / In control of my time / Being my own boss / What I want, when I want

Once you have a sense of your own unique Core Values the next step is to understand where you are aligned with your values and moving toward them.  When you know what you want and have clarity on what is important, prioritising and decision making become so much easier.  Try it out!  

Photo credit: onyxkatze via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

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