How do I know what my values are?

So to live a fulfilled and balanced life, we should try to live in alignment with your core values.  Easy Peasy.    The problem as I see it is 2 fold:

  1. What if I don’t what values are?
  2. How do I find them?

So let’s be clear, it’s not easy, so don’t panic.  It is true that unless you live in alignment with your values, you are likely to feel a little restless, torn or dissatisfied.  Or put a little more nicely, you may not feel completely content,    It’s that feeling described in Chariots of Fire,

I’m forever in pursuit but I don’t even know what I am chasing.

There maybe a feeling that all the jigsaw pieces haven’t quite fit.

Values and beliefs guide us through our lives and influence all aspects of our lives.  From day-to-day decisions, to the way we parent our children, the kind of work we do, or friend we become.  However, most of us have no idea what our values and beliefs are, and whether they are benefiting us, or even holding us back.

Beliefs are the “rules” by which we live our lives.  2 people with the same value may hold different beliefs, and make very different decisions.  Beliefs are evolved, adapted and changing as a result of our external environment.  Many come from our parents, but as we grow and explore the world, many other influences will help form our beliefs.

  • school
  • community
  • religion
  • friends
  • clubs
  • work
  • television
  • politics

Values on the other hand are something we hold dear, and our core values are more fixed, and open to less external influences.  They have worth and are at the heart of who we are.  Some core values that we are more familiar with are honesty, trust, loyalty, kindness, courage.  These are culturally viewed as good values to hold.  In truth, there are no good or bad values, as they are unique to you.  The other interesting thing to know about values, is that they are never independent.  All of your values interact, conflict, merge and compliment at times.


It is often during those life changing moments that you find your values really come into play and you take notice.  Inner conflicts may cause you stress or restlessness.  For example, ambition maybe a significant value, and so maybe family.  However, you are offered a promotion which means moving to another country for 6 months.  Do you pack up and disrupt your family, or decline the opportunity?  It is during these inner value conflicts that we really understand our core values and we look deep within.  Character building.

So how do I know what my values are?

Try this little exercise.

Name 2 people who inspire you.  Now jot down on a piece of paper what are the qualities in them that you admire?  What have they done that inspires you?

What values do these represent?

Now think of characteristics of people who you despise?  You know, the ones that really wind you up…..

Now flip it, what are the opposites of those negative characteristics?  Are they values you hold?

So you should have a number of values, or qualities that you are starting to see emerging.  This gives you a flavour of your values.  This is only scratching the surface, and I will be returning to this subject frequently as it really is at the core of what drives us in life.

So here is some homework.  What values are you living most strongly right now and which are you not living in alignment with?