How to Identify Your Values and Improve Your Life

Naming your non-negotiables is a great start to living an intentional life.

I mentioned in a previous post that, “It takes practice to make your non-negotiables a part of your every day but it is worth the effort, especially when they are rooted in your values”.

At first, you might think you need to identify your core values before you determine your non-negotiables, but I don’t think that is true. Your non-negotiables are absolutely an expression of your values. However, it’s easy to figure out what makes you happy at the end of the day when accomplished or what bums you out when not.

Values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work. Your values are the why of how you live and what you do.  

Your personal values are a central part of who you are and even who you want to be.

Even if you have not taken the time to identify those values, I guarantee that are at work in your life, you just may not have noticed. When the things that you do and the way you behave match your values, life will be good. That doesn’t mean that your circumstances are perfect, however, there will be an undercurrent of satisfaction and contentment.

You may be asking, “If my values already show up in the way I live my life, why should I bother identifying them?” Knowing your values and intentionally honoring them in your life will give you a sense of purpose. Also, the better you know yourself and what you believe the more you will be able to espouse that value. When a situation arises, you will already know how you are going to respond, you won’t have to think. You can immediately go to your core value system. You’re prepared.

I was a bit overwhelmed when first asked to list my core values. In fact, I put off doing the “homework” my life coach sent me on the topic. I was over thinking it and was afraid I would get it wrong. But I pushed through, got the input of people close to me, and believe it or not, I wasn’t surprised with what I came up with. My values related to the things I was known for and talked about most often.

Here are some simple steps you can take to identify your core values:

1. Answer the following questions:

  • When are you most fulfilled and satisfied? Find examples from both your career and personal life.
  • When you're having your best day what characteristics are present in you?

2. Identify the values that are the most important to you.

A quick search on Google can help you find a list similar to the one I used.  Give this one a try. Select as many as you’d like. Remember, all of the values listed are great, however, it’s important to identify the ones that are most important to you.

3. For greater perspective, ask your spouse or a close friend what they would list as your core values.

Often I can’t see the obvious or I second-guess myself based on insecurities. Many times friends and family can see patterns in our life we haven’t noticed. Be open to what they share. The responses you receive can be both affirming and challenging.

4. Now go back through your list and select your top five to seven.

If you are having trouble, rate each value on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest. If you have two values that have the same rank, ask yourself, "If I could satisfy only one of these, which would I choose?"

The list you end up with is your Core Values.

Many of life's decisions are really determined by what you value most. For example, how you use your time, the job you take, and how you raise your family are based on it. When you identify your values are and intentionally make them a part of your life you will feel confident that your life is not a result of “going with the flow”. It's both essential and comforting to rely on your values and use them as a guiding force to point you in the right direction.