Values are the importance we place on people, ideas and things. It is how we judge their worth. When we make behavioral decisions, we rely heavily on our values and what is important to us. However, as we get busy with work and family life, we forget to reflect on what values are most important to us.

Values are personal and are based on our life experiences and what we have learned along the way. They are guideposts to help us along our way to a better future self.

In the following exercise, we learn to better understand those values that are most important to us and how they influence our lives.

In the table below, circle up to fifteen values that you feel are most important to you. As you read the over the words, define them for yourself. For example, what does Risk mean to you?  For me, Risk is about taking a chance and exposing myself to possible harm. If you aren’t one hundred percent what a word means-feel free to look it up in the dictionary but what makes this exercise beneficial is to better understand how we personally understand the value represented by the word.

Accomplishment Devoutness Inner harmony Results-oriented
Accountability Diligence Innovativeness Rigor
Accuracy Discipline Inquisitiveness Risk
Achievement Discretion Insightfulness Salvation
Advancement Diversity Integrity Security
Adventurous Dynamism Intelligence Self-actualization
Affectionate Economic security Intuition Self-control
Affiliation Education Involvement Selflessness
Altruism Effectiveness Joy Self-reliance
Ambition Efficiency Justice Self-respect
Artistic expression Elegance Leadership Sensitivity
Assertiveness Empathy Learning Serenity
Assisting others Enjoyment Legacy Service
Authority Enthusiasm Leisure Shrewdness
Autonomy Equality Logic Simplicity
Balance Excellence Loving Sincerity
Beauty Exciting life Loyalty Soundness
Being the best Expertise Making a difference Speed
Belonging Exploration Mastery Spirituality
Boldness Expressiveness Mature love Spontaneity
Broad or open- Fairness Merit Stability
Calmness Faith Mindfulness Status
Carefulness Fame National security Strategic
Caring Family Nature Strength
Challenge Fidelity Obedience Structure
Cheerfulness Fitness Openness Success
Cleanliness Fluency Order Support
Clear-mindedness Focus Originality Symbolism
Comfortable life Forgiving Patriotism Taking risks
Commitment Free choice Peace Teamwork
Community Freedom Perfection Temperance
Companionship Friendship Personal Tenderness
Compassion Fun Piety Thankfulness
Competent Generosity Pleasure Thoroughness
Competitiveness Genuineness Politeness Tidiness
Conformity Goodness Positivity Timeliness
Consistency Grace Power Tolerance
Contentment Growth Practicality Tradition
Contribution Happiness Preparedness Tranquility
Control Hard Work Prestige Trustworthiness
Cooperation Health Pride Truth-seeking
Correctness Helpfulness Professionalism Understanding
Courage Helping Society Prudence Uniqueness
Courteousness Holiness Quality Unity
Courtesy Honesty Rationality Usefulness
Creativity Honor Recognition Variety
Curiosity Humility Reliable Vision
Decisiveness Imagination Religion Vitality
Dependability Improving society Resourcefulness Wealth
Determination Independence Respect Winning
development Influence Responsibility Wisdom
Ingenuity Restraint

At this point, you should have around fifteen words circle on the chart above. Our goal is to narrow this down to your top five most important values. For some of us this will be easy, and we can literally just note the ones that are most important to us. For the rest of us, we need to take a moment and compare the values to each other.

One way to do this is just to follow your gut and pick your top five based on how you feel. Or you could do it methodically using a comparison chart, as shown below.

Create a list of your values, numbering them one to fifteen. And then using the chart below compare them to each other. For instance, compare the first value on your list to the second value and decide which one is the most important, and circle it on the chart below.  Then compare the first value to the third value so and so on until you have compare each value to all the others.


1-3, 2-3

1-4, 2-4, 3-4

1-5, 2-5, 3-5, 4-5

1-6, 2-6, 3-6, 4-6, 5-6

1-7, 2-7, 3-7, 4-7, 5-7, 6-7

1-8, 2-8, 3-8, 4-8, 5-8, 6-8, 7-8

1-9, 2-9, 3-9, 4-9, 5-9, 6-9, 7-9, 8-9

1-10, 2-10, 3-10, 4-10, 5-10, 6-10, 7-10, 8-10, 9-10

1-11, 2-11, 3-11, 4-11, 5-11, 6-11, 7-11, 8-11, 9-11, 10-11

1-12, 2-12, 3-12, 4-12, 5-12, 6-12, 7-12, 8-12, 9-12, 10-12, 11-12

1-13, 2-13, 3-13, 4-13, 5-13, 6-13, 7-13, 8-13, 9-13, 10-13, 11-13, 12-13

1-14, 2-14, 3-14, 4-14, 5-14, 6-14, 7-14, 8-14, 9-14, 10-14, 11-14, 12-14, 13-14

1-15, 2-15, 3-15, 4-15, 5-15, 6-15, 7-15, 8-15, 9-15, 10-15, 11-15, 12-15, 13-15, 14-15

Now count the total of circle for each number.

 1. 2. 3.
4. 5. 6.
7. 8. 9.
10. 11. 12.
13. 14. 15.

List the values that are most important to you.


As you review the list, is this your lived list of values, or is it the ideal list of values? How do these values influence your everyday actions? In life, we are influenced by others and at times we say a value is important to us because we know that it is important to others around us. Review your list, are you being your authentic to yourself and what you believe is the most important?

When we know who we are, we make decisions that will authenticate ourselves.

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