4 Questions to Help You Clarify Your Core Values

We all have those times when we feel out of focus or off track. When this happens to you, do you ever consider that it could be due to poor self-management practices? For example, perhaps you were so intent on achieving the next level of your career that you sacrificed your health and well-being. Or maybe you felt stuck in a relationship that you found suddenly unfulfilling.

During my 15 years of being a professional coach, I have witnessed many clients struggling with similar circumstances. One tool I have used successfully and also suggested to clients is a values identification process. It is a powerful tool that helps people facilitate wise choices, strategize action steps that move them forward, and recognize situations in which their values are being compromised.

A useful online resource is this values assessment from mindtools.com. This site provides a list of common values to choose from and challenging questions to help you identify personal values. Here is a simple method to complete the exercise:

  • Review a list of 30 to 40 values that appeal to you.
  • Choose 10 to 15 that resonate – values you currently honor.
  • Review the 10 to 15 once again. Notice that some can be sub-categories of others.
  • After close review, select 5 values that are most important to you from that group.
  • Review those once again. Which ones do you not want to live without?
  • Choose the top 3 values you feel are critical to who you are and what you stand for.
  • Prioritize those 3 according to your personal preference.

If you need more help in clarifying your core values, answer these 4 questions:

  1. What values must you have in your life to feel fulfilled?
  2. What types of values keep showing up in your life?
  3. What are the values that are core to the way you do your job, maintain your relationships, parent your children, and/or lead others?
  4. What values challenge or stretch you the most?

One of the ways I help clients refocus and get back on track is to have them identify their top three values according to personal priority. We discuss the questions listed above and determine the values that need to be enhanced or maintained. Often, the reason a client feels out of sync or off track has to do with their unconsciously setting aside an important value. Some clients are in a work environment where they feel compromised because their values don’t match the company’s values.

In nearly every values discussion, the question of what is most important to the client emerges. At that point, it is helpful to identify action steps to realign the client with their top values. These might include setting personal boundaries, letting go of perfection, seeking a new job, or building new friendships.

Our values are a gauge that measures how close we are to our true selves. If we stray too far away, life can feel as though we are in constant conflict. Although it is worthwhile to identify personal values, it is critical to perform an occasional self-check. Are you living, working, and leading others in a manner that brings you fulfillment? Our values often change depending on our circumstances and life experiences.

Values identification is the foundation of self-management. It creates a level of self-awareness that helps us make wise decisions and become aligned with what truly matters.

 About the Author

Patricia Sauer is a coaching solutions partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 150 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world.

Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services.

One thought on “4 Questions to Help You Clarify Your Core Values

  1. Hi Patricia, great article. You might also be interested to check out the Theory of Basic Human Values pioneered by social psychologist Shalom H. Schwartz. Dr. Schwartz theorized that our motivations can be distilled into a framework of 10 value categories and 57 individual values.

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