Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Set Your Values as Your Compass

Eliciting Your Values

Here is a step-by-step method to create your own personal values compass. This can be a time consuming process, and it will require your concentrated attention. If this is not a good time for you to do this, feel free to read it over now and then complete it when you can put in the time. It is worth the effort and is a process worth repeating every six months or even more frequently if you find yourself struggling with your level of satisfaction or success in your life or career.

When I refer to values, I am not talking about how much money you have, what type of car you drive, or where you live. Although cars, clothing and locations can be symbols of what are your deeper desires, more important than these symbols are words like comfort, adventure, excitement and financial security. I am talking about what is truly important to you in life.

Brainstorm a list of your values as the answers to this question. Try to reduce your responses to a single word or two that encapsulates each answer. For example, if one of your answers is, "having a successful career," then you might edit that phrase to the value of "success." Don't worry about the order of your list yet or how long it is, just get everything down in writing.

To make this task easier for you, I've put together an extensive list of values below which you can use to help build your own list. Most of my clients usually find it easiest to circle the words that most appeal to them right away then narrow the circled list further and further. There's no hard rule for how long your list should be, but I usually prefer a list in the range of 5-8 values. If you have more than this, consider cutting out the marginal values that just barely made your list, or combine multiple values that are nearly identical on a single line, like achievement/accomplishment.

So you might end up with a list that looks something like this:

  • Love
  • Health
  • Wealth
  • Comfort
  • Fun

Prioritizing Your Values

The next step is to prioritize your list. This is usually the most time consuming and difficult step because it requires intense thinking. Many people find this exercise enlightening and take a quiet personal approach to the process. However, it can be fun to do this with a partner. I encourage people to tackle it with a nonjudgmental friend over coffee or lunch. It could be fun!

My preferred method of prioritizing my values list is to identify the top value, then the second highest value, and so on until I've rebuilt the whole list in order of priority from the top to the bottom. So you may begin by asking yourself these questions: Which of these values is truly the most important to me in life? If I could only satisfy one of these values, which one would it be? The answer to this question is your number one value. Then move down the list and ask which remaining value is the next most important to you, and so on, until you've sorted the whole list in priority order.

  • Success
  • Wealth
  • Adventure
  • Learning
  • Health
  • Fun

These values in order become your Values Compass. Even though you may have a Destination (Vision) and a Map (Goals) and Steps (Clarity/Direction) to getting the career or life you want, this Values Compass builds awareness that may keep you heading in the right direction. You can be confident each step of the way by measuring, or filtering, each opportunity against these values to see if they are in line with your ultimate desires for your life. This values compass can be integral to overcoming obstacles also, but we will discuss more about that in another post.

Complete the exercise and reflect on where you are, where you want to be, and what steps you need to take between. Then, move as you follow your Values Compass to a better life.

Values List:

  1. Acceptance
  2. Accomplishment/Achievement
  3. Acknowledgement
  4. Adaptability
  5. Adventure
  6. Affluence
  7. Altruism
  8. Ambition
  9. Attractiveness/ Beauty
  10. Balance
  11. Belonging
  12. Charity
  13. Cleanliness
  14. Commitment
  15. Confidence
  16. Conformity
  17. Consistency
  18. Contentment
  19. Control
  20. Courage
  21. Curiosity
  22. Determination
  23. Devotion
  24. Dignity
  25. Directness
  26. Discipline
  27. Diversity
  28. Education
  29. Equality
  30. Experience
  31. Faith
  32. Family
  33. Financial independence
  34. Generosity/Giving
  35. Growth
  36. Happiness
  37. Health
  38. Holiness
  39. Honesty
  40. Honor
  41. Hospitality
  42. Humility
  43. Industry
  44. Integrity
  45. Intelligence/ Knowledge
  46. Justice
  47. Leadership
  48. Learning
  49. Liberty
  50. Logic
  51. Love
  52. Loyalty
  53. Making a difference
  54. Obedience
  55. Open-mindedness
  56. Optimism
  57. Order/Organization
  58. Originality
  59. Passion
  60. Patriotism
  61. Perfection
  62. Perseverance
  63. Philanthropy
  64. Power
  65. Professionalism
  66. Prosperity
  67. Punctuality
  68. Realism
  69. Reason/Reasonable-ness
  70. Recognition
  71. Recreation
  72. Refinement
  73. Reflection
  74. Relaxation
  75. Reliability
  76. Religiousness
  77. Respect
  78. Sacrifice
  79. Satisfaction
  80. Selflessness
  81. Self-reliance
  82. Sexuality
  83. Silliness
  84. Solitude
  85. Spirituality
  86. Strength
  87. Structure
  88. Success
  89. Support
  90. Tradition
  91. Trust/Trust-worthiness
  92. Truth
  93. Understanding
  94. Uniqueness
  95. Usefulness
  96. Wealth
  97. Winning
  98. Wisdom

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