Lesson 2: Identify your values    

By completing this lesson you will identify your values. But before we dive into that I'm going to share a secret ... you already know your values but you might not be consciously aware of them, yet.

Unlike some values exercises there is no list of words (values) for you to choose from. Instead trust that the words that come up as you go through the steps are the right ones for you. There really is no right or wrong, they’re your words, your values.

Before beginning:

  • Print off these instructions (they're also detailed below if you prefer to read them on screen), and the worksheet.
  • Find a quiet space, a place where you won’t be disturbed for perhaps an hour.
  • Grab a cuppa or a drink, a pen + the instructions and worksheet.

You’re good to go.

Identify your values instructions

Step 1.

Think about the setting you want to identify your values for, e.g. yourself, work, home, family, friends etc. Choose just one for this exercise. You can repeat the exercise another time to identify your values for other settings.

Ask yourself, “what’s important to me about [setting]?” e.g. what’s important to me about work? Another helpful question is “what is it that I need in order to feel happy, or a sense of joy or bliss in [setting]?”. Keep asking yourself the questions, perhaps 2 to 3 times.

As you think about what’s important to you, and throughout the rest of this values exercise, write down what comes to mind. There’s no need to judge or censor your thoughts. There’s no right or wrong, and what you write down doesn’t need to make sense or be meaningful to anyone but you.

Step 2.

Think about a time when you were highly motivated towards the [setting] or in other words, think about a time when you felt your happiest, you were experiencing a feeling of joy and bliss. Ask yourself, “what was important to me then?”

Step 3.

Imagine that you have all of the values you’ve identified. If all of those values were met, what would cause you to leave or to be unhappy? Write these down too.

Step 4.

Review your list, notice if there are any common themes and whether some are similar. Group them so that you end up with no more than 8 values.

Step 5.

Write each value on a separate post-it note (or piece of paper) and put them in sequence of most important through to least important. Go with your gut feel on this one. There’s no right or wrong because they are your values. 

Step 6.

Now let’s double-check the sequence to make sure it’s just how you want it to be.  Ask yourself is “x” more important than “y” or is “y” more important than “x”.  

Here’s an example, say you’ve identified these values and put them in this sequence:


Is flexibility more important than autonomy or is autonomy more important than flexibility? Let’s say autonomy is more important, move that post-it note to the top.  Then, is flexibility more important than challenge or is challenge more important than flexibility? And so on.

Step 7.

Read through your values from most important to least important. Does that feel right?  If not, have another look at the sequence. Move them around until they’re right for you.

Next step

The next step is a game changer! Often when we think about values we just use a word, like fun. But what fun means to you and what it means to me could be completely different. So it’s important to understand what the values actually mean to you. Head to Lesson 3.

To go to the Values workshop overview, click here.


Note: In case you're wondering where this values exercise came from, it's from the field of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). NLP is known world-wide for helping people realise the power of their own mind, and to better understand the connection between thoughts, emotions and behaviours.