Are you in touch with your values?

Imagine you are filling out an application for a dream job, or having dinner with an intriguing new friend. You are asked, “What are your values?” What would you say?

Values are one of those really important things in life that can be challenging to talk about. When we ask clients, “What are your values?” during a coaching session, many are stumped by the question, often to their own surprise. “Of course I have values,” they’ll say. “It’s just that I, uh… well… hmm.”

The word “values” can strike us as cliché and boring, and attempts to discuss the topic can cause people to either physically head for the exits, or emotionally check out of the conversation, especially in business settings. It can feel overused and meaningless; we are hard pressed not to become jaded by politicians and businesses who talk about values but are only out to sell us something.

Ironically, when you come across someone who is truly in touch with their core values, that person isn’t cliché or boring at all. They are vital, charismatic and, quite often, maddeningly content. Why? Because values are the principles, the standards we use to define ourselves and determine how we live, judge and measure our lives. Gandhi put it this way:

Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.

That’s big stuff. Which is why it is powerfully enlightening to consciously identify and connect with your values. Your values are your best guides for making important decisions–and, looked at the other way around, your decisions reveal a great deal about your values.

While values tend to be stable, they can change over the course of your life, so keeping in touch with them should be an ongoing process. Feeling unbalanced? Unhappy? Unsure? Odds are, you’ve lost sight of your values.

So… what are your values? Below is a handy list that you can use to start exploring this question. As you find yourself drawn to some words and away from others, try to think of specific examples of times when you felt a strong sense of pride, of fulfillment, of happiness, of satisfaction–or their opposites. These should provide helpful clues to keep you on track.

Some questions you may find value in pondering:

Where in your life are you honoring your values? Not honoring them?

Which values are truly yours, as opposed to ones you may have inherited (from your parents, your educations, your culture)?

Which values do you aspire to, but haven’t yet embodied? What, if anything, do you want to do about this at this time?

[If you are comfortable sharing, please add your thoughts on this topic, or list the values you’ve identified, as a response to this post.]

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About Us

The WYSIWYG Co. is the coaching partnership of Caroline Sugarman and Aaron Sugarman. We are members of the International Coach Federation (ICF), with more than 40 years of combined coaching and consulting experience.

We work with individuals and organizations, through a mix of one-on-one coaching, workshops and group work that builds leadership and communication skills and improves team performance.

We support our work with assessments that generate insight, highlight strengths and areas for development, and help organizations make better hiring decisions.

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