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September 9, 2013

Values – how important is it to know what’s important to you?

Life coaches like myself spend much time with clients working on “values” and “beliefs” (the legs which support the “table top” of values) and linking this up to goal setting and goal achievement.  It’s complex, and in a short blog, I can only scratch the surface – but let’s begin to do just that!

There are loads of definitions out there but this sums up personal values for me:-

“Personal values are our core beliefs, values, and philosophies that we hold about life, its purpose, and our own purpose.  Values drive us, motivate us, they are our inner compass.  They make us the person we are.”

Where do our values come from?  As we grow up we assimilate values from all those who surround us – parents, teachers, political and cultural leaders, friends, society and so on.  Once we hit those teen years we then begin to “sift” through them – accept or reject them as being part of who we are, or not – as the case may be.  After this initial “sift and sort” period it’s all too easy to accept values which have perhaps become entrenched in us, which we’re comfortable with, without really questioning, re-evaluating or even recognising them.  Life’s busy, day to day living just takes over. Our values appear automatic,  they are the things we focus on most of the time, without even know it!  They take us in the direction we think is right, based on our experience and programming, however that doesn’t mean to say we don’t become a little lost along the way…..

Sometimes, as one reaches a “certain age” or stage in one’s life – personally, career-wise, health-wise, family circumstances etc, when things are going well – or not so well – we have one of those moments – you know the kind of moments I mean – the “how did I get here, is this all there is to my life, I didn’t think this was in my game plan, what happened to what I did want” kind of a moment!

I know this can be a scary, ” get me out of here” thought, and you could see it from a “glass half full or glass half empty” viewpoint, but let’s look at it positively!  We’ve woken up, we’ve got a heightened sense of awareness – even if we don’t really know what we’re aware of or what we want to do about it!  We have an idea that we need to take stock.  Remember, everything you do on the outside is dictated and determined by your values on the inside, whether clear or fuzzy.  The greater clarity you have regarding your values on the inside, the more precise and effective will be your actions on the outside.

Did you know?  Discovering what your core values are in life and then honouring them is a fundamental key to your wellbeing and to living a stress free and healthy life.

Did you know?  Recognising what your core inner beliefs are gives you increased freedom to make healthy choices or plans, confident they will take you in the direction of increasing happiness.
Why talk about values in relation to goals?
  • If your goals do not mirror your values, your goals will never be successfully achieved
  • Your goals may be achieved, but you may feel in conflict with yourself, disharmony, not right
  • If your goal reflects someone else’s values (eg. partner, company, daughter, friend), again it is not your goal, or at least not for the “right” reasons

Is your ladder up against the right wall – or is the right wall elsewhere?!

If you’re still with me, may I warmly congratulate you!  And if I’ve lost you, I apologise……but either way, I’d like to invite you to try the value finding exercise below.



1.  From the list below, select the values that you feel are most important to you and also add any that are not included in this list.  Go with your gut instinct.


Achievement                       Adventure                       Art                             Balance

Challenge                              Community                    Creativity                  Democracy

Effectiveness                         Fame                               Health                        Helping others

Honesty                                  Independence                Family                       Friendships

Growth                                    Knowledge                     Laughter                   Learning

Love                                          Loyalty                           Money                       Nature

Order                                        Pleasure                         Power                        Recognition

Relationships                           Religion                          Responsibility           Reward

Security                                     Self-respect                   Serenity                     Stability

Status                                        Success                            Time                           Truth

Connection                               Wisdom                           Spirituality                 Understanding

Co-operation                            Risk taking                       Spontaneity               Openness

Awareness                                Patience


2.   Now narrow down your list to the 10 most important values.

3.  After you have chosen your top 10 values put them in order of importance.  You can do this by considering “if I could have value X but I couldn’t have value Y, would that be alright?”  and comparing each value in a similar way until you are happy with your order of importance.

4..  Now take that list from 10 down to your top 4 most important values.

5.  Write a few sentences about each as you currently feel they stand within your life.   For each one ask yourself:

  •  Am I  honouring this core value in the way I live my life at present?
  •  Am I honouring this core value in all areas of my life – health, life partner, family, leisure, social life, work, community interaction etc?
  • If not, what changes do I need to make in order to implement this core value? 

Very well done to you if you have got this far!  I know from experience, this “little” exercise can throw up a load of heavy stuff, sometimes taking one by surprise with seismic shifts resulting.  If this is how it is for you, do please email me – emma@zest4life-coaching.co.uk so that I can support you.

As I hope you can now see, knowing our values is, I believe, hugely important – they underpin how we live our life, the decisions and choices we make, the people we mix with and love, and we even (unwittingly) pass them on to the next generation! 

As Roy E Disney, nephew of Walt, has said “It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”  How true.

Let me know your thoughts and insights with regard to the above, and do give me your suggestions for future blog subjects!

Until the next time, sending you my very best wishes, and thanks for reading…..



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