If you’re finding yourself repeating that you don’t know what your values are, it’s time to do something about it.
You see, our values are our guiding lights… They help us make important decisions in life!
In other words, it’s essential that you know what your values are so you can navigate life.
Here at 10 things to do if you don’t know what your values are.
1) Think about the people you admire
Now, if you’re not clear on what it is you value – whether it’s achievement, growth, loyalty or safety – start by thinking about what it is you admire about others.
It might seem counterintuitive to think about other people when you’re trying to get clear on what your values are…
…But here me out:
Doing this will help you have many ‘aha’ moments that guide you closer towards what your true values are.
For instance, if you realize you really admire a friend for their sense of mastery over their life and their ability to be in solitude for extended periods, it will signal that these are the things you place value on.
In other words, you’ll realize that you value solitude and mastery.
What’s more, it could be that you admire many different things in different people.
The more, the merrier! There’s no limit on the amount of values you can have.
Start with a handful of people – be it friends or famous faces and write down what it is exactly that you admire about them.
Get clear on what it is that you value about others to help you see what you value for yourself!
2) Make a list of the things that are important to you
Your values go hand-in-hand with what is important to you.
For one person, it might be creating innovative products that help people, for the next it might be spending time with friends and making connections!
What is important to you will be totally unique to you, and there’s no right or wrong answer.
By doing this, you’ll begin to understand what your values are.
For instance, maybe what is it important to you includes:
- Spending quality time with friends
- Being creative
- Discovering new places
- Having a mindfulness practice
- Caring for animals
It could be all of the above, or none of the above!
…And remember that what you write today could change in a week or in a month.
In other words, your values can evolve as you evolve.
3) Reflect on what inspires you to take action
When it comes to taking action, do you know what inspires you?
By working this out, you’ll be able to underscore what exactly you place a value on.
Simply put, identifying what makes you get out of bed in the morning points to what your values are.
So ask yourself the simple question: what inspires me to take action?
For instance, it could be because you want power, responsibility, respect or freedom.
There could be so many things…All at once!
It doesn’t need to be limited to just one thing; as I say, there are no limits to values.
This question of what inspires action is one that I was asked when I went through this free checklist by Jeanette Brown.
You see, it’s been specially created to help you define your values.
It’s such a straightforward question…But it’s powerful!
Simply put: working out what your values are doesn’t need to be a confusing process full of difficult questions.
Instead, it’s a case of asking yourself the right questions!
4) Think back to the times where you’ve felt alive
Sure, if you’re reading this you’re alive…
But I mean: think back to the times when you’ve felt really alive.
If you can identify what makes you feel engaged and alive, you’ll be getting to the crux of what your values are and what’s important to you in life.
Make a list of a few different experiences.
They might not seem like they’re not relevant to understanding your values… But they will be!
In my experience, I’ve felt alive when:
- Spending time with people I love
- Creating work that resonates with me
- Discovering different cultures
- Feeling like I’m connecting to something greater than myself
It tells me that my values include:
You see, this simple exercise helps you to unpick what it is that you really value in an experience.
What’s more, you might notice that there’s a pattern between the things you write down, or there might be a mix!
Either way, you’ll be getting clearer on what your values are.
5) Focus on some of your most painful experiences
This might sound odd, but wait for it:
Just like it’s important to think about the moments you truly felt alive in life, think back to some of your most painful moments.
It could have been the period of time after a breakup, after a loved one’s death, or a time you were bullied and excluded at school.
These moments likely shaped you more than you realize.
Now, the reason it’s necessary to think back to these painful experiences is because it can help you see what you valued at the time to help you get through them.
These values could include:
Perhaps connection to friends and family was what you valued in your time of need, and you needed a sense of stability when you’d been faced with a shock.
In other words, thinking back to painful experiences and what you valued points to your wider values in life!
6) List the things you want in life
When was the last time you made a list of all of the things you really want in life?
It’s not something we tend to do regularly – if at all!
But we should be doing it if we want to define our values.
In my experience, life coaches suggest you ask yourself this question on a regular basis as it’s such a great tool.
Simply put, it helps you get clarity!
In order to get the most out of this list, consider breaking down the things you want into different categories.
You could ask yourself:
- What do I want to achieve in my career?
- What experiences do I want to have?
- How would I like to spend my time?
- What are my ultimate goals?
- What material things do I want to have?
As you do this, you’ll see what’s important to you and where you place value.
For example, if you have a desire to visit every country then it’s likely your values include curiosity, courage and adventure.
7) Think about what you want to be remembered for
Connecting to the future and thinking about what you want to be remembered for will help you define your values.
Ask yourself: what do I want people to say about me at my funeral?
Do you want them to say…
- “They were so kind and caring to others”
- “They were some kind of creative genius!”
- “Their adventurous spirit inspired others”
By imagining what it is you want other people to say and think about you, it will shine a light on where your value placement is.
For instance, I know that I want people to remark on how curious and creative I was at the end of my life…
…So that shows that my values lie on these aspects.
8) Ask yourself when you feel most at peace within yourself
You might be wondering what peace has to do with values…
…But the answer is, a lot!
When we’re at peace with ourselves, it indicates that we’re in true alignment and acting in accordance with our values.
Rather than feeling a sense of discomfort, when we’re in line with our values, we experience a sense of ease and, well, peace.
So ask yourself: when do I feel most at peace within myself?
Is it when you feel free, when you’re in solitude or when you feel like you’re acting with integrity?
If you can identify the answer to this question then it will help you get clear on what you value.
9) Rank the values you’ve identified from 1-10
So once you’ve gone through the exercises and started to paint a picture of what it is you really value, there’s something else you need to do:
Rank your values from 1-10 of importance.
For example, is personal growth a higher value than contribution or is justice of higher value than achievement?
You’ll find a full list of values in the free checklist I spoke about earlier, which can guide you when it comes to choosing yours.
What’s more, you could have multiple at number one if you want…
…It’s up to you how you design your list.
Do whatever works for you and ultimately what helps you get the most clarity on your situation.
Now, how you rank your values might change over time… And that’s alright!
It’s only natural that you’ll place more value on certain things at certain times.
10) Revisit your list of values regularly
By now, you should know that you can expect your values to change.
Just like everything else changes around us as we age, our values do too!
Now, your values might change from one day to the next…
…And they might be small or big changes.
For instance, I have a friend who used to work in fashion design and now works as a spiritual healer.
Her values changed from wanting to innovate and create to wanting to help and support others.
In order for you to get clear on how your values sit with you, revisit your list regularly.
- How do these values make me feel?
- Do they feel personal to me?
- Are they consistent with this version of me today?
Remember, nothing is set in stone and you can make as many tweaks as you like on your terms!