If you have ever been to see a life coach, there's a decent chance they have worked with you to discover your values. There's a reason for this. Our values are keys to living a life that feels true to who you are and that honor what is important to you.
Values are appropriately named as they represent the things of value in your life. We usually have at least some awareness around our values. The key comes in defining them, in understanding them and what they mean to us. In other words, if someone asked you what the most important things in your lift were, would you be able to tell them?
No matter your answer to the question, it is important for us to return to our values often and make sure we are living a life that prioritizes our values. So here's a quick hit version of how to do it.
(For a more depth on values, check out our Ultimate Guide to Discovering Values)
Peak and Valley Moments
What are a few of your best and worst memories? These should be moments that stand out to you as particularly special or significant. Tell someone else about these and walk through them. Write them down or just reflect on them.
As you go through your peak moments, what things are being honored or celebrated? When you think back on your most positive memories, there is usually a strong connection to the things you value that bring you joy and confidence.
Now, as you go through your valley moments, the times when you have been at your very worst or had the greatest frustrations, what things are being dishonored or stepped on? In these low moments you often are so effected by them because they ignore your values and confront them.
In your peak and valley moments you can see more clearly what is important to you in the context of your own experience. Do this exercise alone, with a loved one, or even better, with a coach to get even more depth and another's point of view.
This is something you may have heard of or even done before. That's because it's a highly effective tool in figuring out what your highest values are. It's pretty simple.
Gather together a list of values (you can use my free Values List). Take about five minutes to look through the list and circle your top ten from the list. This should be a bit of a challenge and it's worth remembering that all of these values are good in and of themselves. What makes one better than another is simply your own preference.
After you have your top ten, look back at the list and spend the next two minutes picking out your top five. Got it? Now try to rank your top five.
This process of becoming more and more specific can be easy for some, nearly impossible for others. It teaches us how to better understand what is the most important to us out of many good things, which allows us to better understand our true values.
This exercise can work a couple different ways. Both build on the last two exercises. Take your list of values from the values sort and/or the peak and valley moments. Now sit down and write your own personalized definitions for these. Use the experiences that you were able to draw on from your peak and valley moments. Use the reasoning you found in your sorting that put these specific values on your top list.
These definitions don't have to be perfect, but they do have to be yours. Your values are your own. One person's value of family may be vastly different from the same value of family in another. Write your definitions and keep them somewhere you can see them to be sure they are your focus.