You may find yourself at a place in your life where you need to clarify your values to help make an important decision. And, there’s no better tool than values clarification to help you gain the clarity you’re seeking; it provides a solid lens for good decision-making.
When clarifying your values, there are two important parts to this process. The first part is to define what your values are, using some tangible and specific words. If you already have some good, descriptive words, then you’re already ahead. If not, start with a list of values or complete an online values assessment.
Once you’ve come up with some solid words to describe what motivates you, then the next part is to clarify your values through the process of values clarification. Values clarification is the process of reflecting on your values, usually through the form of powerful questions that elicit insightful answers.
When you clarify your values, you usually want to do these in three, sequential steps:
- Aware: Identify and define your values
- Affirm: Take ownership of your values
- Apply: Put your values into action
This approach is effective because it logically guides you from self-awareness to application.
And here’s an interesting tidbit. The concept of aware, affirm, apply is not new. In fact, it’s 4,000 years old. We have the ancient stoics to thank for this technique (it’s called “the three disciplines”, and used quite frequently in coaching programs (often under different labels) to help people arrive to their own understanding of who they are and what they want to do next.
- As you develop a better understanding of your values, what is important for you right now?
- How do you spend your time, money, and thoughts? (Beyond the everyday things you need to live your life)
- When was the last time you thought about your values?
- Was there a defining moment that made you pause and reflect about your life?
- What are the peak experiences in your life? (Your moments of success)
- What values do you think are expressed in your moments of success?
- What are the low points in your life when your needs are unmet? (Your moments of struggle)
- What values do you think are expressed in your moments of struggle?
- What is your first reaction to your results?
- Did any of your results surprise you?
- How well are you living by your values?
- What values were imprinted onto you growing up? (From school, family, faith, etc.)
- How much of your values are nature vs. nurture? (Nature = what you are. Nurture = what you were raised to believe.)
- Which of your values are needs and which are virtues? (Needs = things that you need to live well. Virtues = things that are morally good)
- Are there any values you feel pressure to conform to and why?
- What will it take to overcome any pressure you feel to conform to any values you do not fully embrace?
- Which of your top values resonates with you the most and why?
- In your own words, how do you define your top values?
- What are the strengths of your top values when they are in action?
- What aspects of your top values are troublesome for you when they are in action?
- What patterns have emerged in how you elected and defined your values?
- How are your definitions of these values perhaps different from or similar to other people?
- How have your values helped you succeed in the past?
- Which values complement each other? How so? (These are values within the same or adjacent value category on the value wheel.)
- Which values conflict with each other? How so? (These are values that are on the opposite side of the value wheel.)
- What values are a “must-have” for you? (A value you acted on or thought about in the last 24 hours or is non-negotiable for you.)
- What values are “meaningful” for you? (A value that is of high importance, but not always a “must-have” value)
- How would you feel if you got more of this value today?
- How would you feel if you got less of this value today?
- What observations have you made about the priority of your values?
- What type of alignment do you have between your personal values and those of your industry / employer / occupation?
- How do you envision your values will stay the same or change over time?
- What excites you most about how you have described your values?
- How would you describe the relationship between your values and your strengths? (Values = what motivates you. Strengths = how you get things done when you are at your best.)
- Who in your life shares values similar to you? (Family, friends, work.)
- Who in your life does not share values similar to you? (Family, friends, work.)
- With this deeper understanding of your values, what do you appreciate about yourself in a new and interesting way?
- How might your fresh understanding of your top values help you make better decisions?
- How are you using one or more of your values in your life right now?
- What is the biggest challenge you face in your life right now?
- What role do your values play in tackling your biggest challenges?
- What needs to change in your life to better live by your values? What will it take?
- Who can you learn from about your top values? (Role models, mentors, peers)
- What values may need more courage and accountability in order for you to live by them?
- Do you have any fears about honoring your values? If you have fears, then explore the pros and cons of making a change.
- What are the benefits of not making a change? What will you gain?
- What are the benefits of making a change? What will you gain?
- What are your concerns about not making a change? What will you lose?
- What are your concerns about making a change? What will you lose?
- Pretend you just inherited $1 million and you cannot give it away. It is only for you. How would this impact your decision to change?
- What would you do next in your life if you knew that you could not fail?
- How do you envision your life once you start honoring your values or giving them more attention?
- How can you continually increase your mindfulness of these values?
- Is there anyone in your life you want to make aware of your values? (Family, friends, coworkers.)
- Do your values provide any clues about the direction of your career?
- Do your values provide any clues about how you like to develop relationships with family, friends, and coworkers?
- What do you want to accomplish in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years?
- What strategies will help make honoring your top values a reality?
- What action plans do you want to create today for your values?
- Specific: get clear about what you want to do
- Measurable: define how you will measure success.
- Achievable: make it challenging, but realistic
- Relevant: ensure it matches your long-term goals
- Time-bound: set a date to achieve your goal.
- What are you most grateful for about your values?
If you have a question you’d like to see added, feel free to make a suggestion.