How to Find What Matters Most

When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier – Roy E Disney

How Do You Find What You Value Most in Life?

Before we get to that, let’s first examine the concept of values. Values are basic and fundamental beliefs that guide or motivate attitudes or actions. Values describe the personal qualities we choose to embody to guide our actions; the sort of person we want to be; the manner in which we treat ourselves and others, and our interaction with the world around us. They provide the general guidelines for conduct. They’re different for everyone. So what’s important to me will differ from what’s important to you, they are the things you truly stand for. The seat of your passions if you like, and they give you your individuality from the next person. 

Put simply, values help us to determine what is most important to us. 

Why Is It Crucial to Clarify What Yours Are?

Our decisions. And the reason, when we align with our values, our lives feel good, and like all is going well. But when we fall out of alignment with our values, we start to feel things aren’t going well and we don’t feel so great about everything. 

Here is a good example. Let’s imagine that you genuinely value truth-telling or truth-finding. Then you get into a situation where it’s impossible to bring truth. Perhaps you’re reading a piece of marketing copy, in a magazine and you think, 

“They’re using poetic license to the max! That’s B.S.” 

You’re irritated. But the person next to you, who values results and competitiveness, they read the same copy and conclude, “Oh wow, well-written, my marketing team need to take this approach.” But not you. For you, this marketing is wrong, because it stretches the truth. You prefer the absolute truth to come out because, for you, that’s always top priority. And no doubt when you choose a career, you are drawn to jobs where facts are hugely important, or where finding the truth is essential. And you feel a sense of fulfilment when you’re in that arena.

How Do We Get Clarity on What Our Values Are?

By now, I hope you’re being to understand how gaining clarity in the are of your values can have positive impacts on your life. Here are three steps that will help you to identify your top values. 

  • First, think about a time when you were the happiest. You were energised, fully alive, you felt in flow, everything was going fantastic for you. 

What were you doing? 
Was there anyone else there with you? And if so, who were they? 
And what other factors added to and contributed to this sense of happiness? Can you identify them?

  • Step two, bring to mind an experience that made you feel proud.

Where were you when this happened? 
How did that particular experience lead to you to feel satisfied? 
Did other people share this pride with you? 
And again, who were those people and what factors contributed to it?

Here’s an example. Somebody might say, “I felt most proud at work. I am always consistent, I don’t quit, and I get the job done. And that gives me a sense of pride.” 

That’s two experiences identified, now for the third. 

  • This third step can sometimes feel more tricky to identify because it deals with internal needs, but allow the answer to emerge. 

When did you feel most fulfilled and satisfied? 
What desire was getting filled at that moment? 

For example, is it that you’ve always wanted to teach?  And then you stand in front of an audience, they are enthralled with what you have to say. It is a deeply satisfying experience and gives your life real meaning. 

Or perhaps, you’re similar to the person in my first example, you’re a truth seeker. And you have a truth to deliver and a captivated audience.  During this experience, you feel a deep sense of fulfilment and surety that this is what you were born to do. 

Recap, you have identified examples from your own life in three key areas. Your top values are likely to be found within these experiences — happiness, pride, fulfilment. 

Now to identify your specific values, you’re going to need to put words and language around them. Taking those three experiences together, what words describe them? 

Common themes may be thankfulness, or a sense of making a contribution. Was it serving others, honesty, truth-seeking, accountability? Or perhaps like me, it’s hope? Almost always, when I find a hopeless situation, I’m compelled to bring a hopeful perspective. Yours will be different but aim to find five or six descriptive words that truly resonate with you. Because once you’ve found those words, life becomes unusually comfortable as you anchor yourself to them. After all, these are the things you value most.

I hope this little exercise was helpful. It is just the tip of the iceberg on how to discover your values. If you’re ready to take a deeper dive into what makes you come alive, then please get in touch. I’d love to help and have many years of experience working with people to find their values. When people gain clarity on their values, they also gain insight into what motivates them and who they are deep inside. Once you live aligned to your values life starts falling together and you live in a more authentic and fulfilling way.

Sharon Tomkins

Sharon is a New Zealand qualified Health Coach and Personal Trainer, as well as an ICF Certified Coach and Accredited Coaching Supervisor. Sharon was awarded the 'Health & Wellness Coach of the Year' 2022, by The Health Coaches Australia & New Zealand Association.
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