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Identifying and living your values

Updated: Nov 2, 2022

A value is a way of being or believing that we hold most important. (Brené Brown) Your Values represent what's important to you in life. Knowing your Values helps you understand what drives you, what you enjoy, what inspires you and what you'd like more of. Clarity of values is vital to help us navigate uncertainty and effectively tackle challenges we face at work and in all areas of our life.

By building a life & lifestyle around our values we create a life that is satisfying and meaningful to us. This means that we live into our values. Living into our values means that we practice as well as profess them, and we take care that our intentions, words, thought and behaviours are aligned with these values. Our core values are so central to how we experience life and we don’t shift our values depending on what we are doing, or where we are. The challenge is when we find our values in conflict with the values of an organisation, our friends, our family or other people we encounter. These exercises will help you identify and work out how to live in greater alignment with your own values.

STEP ONE – Name your values

Review the Values List below and think about what feels true for you. We are each unique, so there may be words that are missing from this list, and different words that sum up your Values better. So, feel free to amend or add to the words in the list below. Then, choose just TWO values that are most important. This is necessary as although we may have 10-15 values on our list, we can’t hold them all in mind when we need them AND, you will find that other values will be fueled and supported by your two core values. Take the time to work out which two values are your core values.

Remember: When it comes to our Values, there is no right or wrong - only who WE are!

My long list of values

My TWO core values

STEP TWO – converting your values into action

Now you need to describe three or four behaviours that support our values, and three or four ‘slippery’ behaviours that suggest we are behaving contrary to our values. There are no right or wrong behaviours, and the more specific the better. A good way to get into this is to re-imagine an experience when you really felt connected or disconnected to your two core values, and what you did, or what you avoided doing in relation to those values.

For each value, consider the following and make some notes>

  • 3 behaviours that support my values

  • 3 slippery behaviours that are outside my values

  • What is a time I was fully living into this value.

STEP THREE - empathy and self-compassion

Living into values is not easy all the time. It can be uncomfortable, and require us to speak out or take action we know is right, when we would rather not. Our little inner voices can undermine us and tell us we are not important enough, or good enough, or we will make a fool of ourselves if we act. We need to be able to cheer ourselves on, and call on others who know our values and our efforts to put them into action.

  • Who knows your values and supports your efforts to live by them?

  • What does support from them look like?

  • What can you do as an act of self-compassion to support yourself to live your values?

  • What are the early warning signs that you are living outside of your values?

  • What does it feel like when you are living into your values?

Remember, doing the right thing is not usually easy.

These exercises are drawn from Dare to Lead by Brené Brown, an inspiring book that has many insights and examples of courageous leadership in action.


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