when working with clients, one of the first exercises we navigate together is a Values Assessment, which ultimately leads to the identification of their core values. This is not something that happens in an hour or even over the course of a week. However, taking the time to begin exploring who you are deep down into your soul, is worth it. Not only is it important for the individual to know what their core values are, it is also helpful for me as their coach. If I am going to help my client get clear about their core values and ensure they are living in alignment with them, understanding what they deeply believe in and hold of utmost importance is the starting point in navigating the path. As a coach who truly wants to support my clients, helping them get clear on their “true north” or most sacred beliefs is where that all begins. It is setting the foundation, if you will.
Taking the time
to identify, and define, your values may seem boring or even silly to some. You may think you are already clear about your core values. Certainly, you know what is important to you, right? You might even wonder why it’s necessary to spend precious time on this topic? I would invite you to consider how you could possibly live a life in alignment with the things you haven’t (or can’t) named? Your values are what you use to align yourself with your life in a way that feels right to you. Your core values feel true to you, and who you are deep down inside. Your values are what you turn to when faced with a tough decision and you’re unsure what to do. YOUR values are not what your parents, or others want you to believe is of utmost importance, or what social media wants you to focus your life on; they are what YOU practice. They come to life in the words you use, the actions you take, your behaviors and even your thoughts. Taking those things into consideration can help you begin to identify what your values are.
Even if you think
you know what your core values are or have taken the time to consider them in the past, I’d like to invite you to give this exercise a try. Read out loud and then circle 3 to, no more than, 5 words below that you hold most important. Choose words that are true for you right now, that make you feel grounded, that feel true to who you are and that describe you walking your talk. That may not be easy at first. You may initially circle 10. Or even 15. Spend the time thinking through which values are most important to you. The ones that your life won’t work without. (Also, please note that you can write in your own as well, since this list is not all inclusive and is simply to get you thinking.) Tune in to and try to resist choosing words that mirror something you have been influenced or coached to be, or words that just don’t feel true to you.
Next, spend some time
defining what each of your values mean to you. Sit with each word in a quiet place and write down your definition in a way that feels right to you.
Please do not allow yourself to feel rushed or pressured throughout this process. If you get stuck, take a break and come back to the exercise a few hours or days later. Let the words and definitions sit with you over the coming days and weeks to allow yourself the opportunity to see how they feel. Are these words what really define how you live your life and what is important to you? For example, maybe you chose “family” out of obligation, but you find that every day you plan to leave work and get home to have dinner with them, you “get stuck” working late and are running in the door at 7pm. That may be a sign for you to reevaluate if “family” is truly one of your values or not. It very well may be and this could be an opportunity for you to focus a bit more on the behaviors which are, or are not, supporting that particular value. It is okay if this makes you feel uncomfortable or even confused at first. Perhaps you are not used to intentionally focusing inward. Maybe you will struggle on the line of who you think you are versus who you want to be. The goal here really is to learn more about yourself, what drives the machine, so to speak. Learn your non-negotiables and then come to own them.
There is so much more to learn and come to appreciate about yourself. I would like to invite you to sit with this for a few weeks. Be on the lookout for part 2 in the coming days. In the meantime, please feel free to send me any questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org .
***I originally wrote this blog in October of 2020 but have since changed website platforms. I am sharing again here because I believe in the value of this exercise (no pun intended).***