Resources for Clarifying and Living Your Values

October 18th is World Values Day! On this day, an organized campaign from the UK seeks to raise awareness of personal and organizational values as forces for good. The World Values Day campaign creates a challenge — this year it’s to put your values into action in your community — and shares information and resources.

What can you do in a few minutes to give attention to your values today? Below I highlight a few of the tools for individuals that are posted on the World Values Day website that I think are particularly accessible and useful for a quick values tune-in and tune-up. I also share a a link to a short worksheet that you can do on your own or with a friend, as well as a few book titles to dive deeper into your personal values for career satisfaction.

First, what are values? The World Values Day campaign defines values as the things that are important to us that guide our choices and behaviours and influence our emotions. They are “what makes us who we are” and are at the core of our being. “They are our motivators, our drivers, the passion in our hearts, the reason we do the things we do and feel the way we feel.”

Why are values important? Paying attention to and acting in alignment with our values helps us feel fulfilled, happy, and emotionally balanced. Alert to our values, we make choices that sit well (even if things don’t turn out as well as we hoped), we can develop deeper relationships with others, and we take responsibility for our actions and personal growth. On the flip side, you can likely think of times when you’ve chosen to ignore a strong value or you’ve felt forced to compromise and that friction with who you are and who you want to be causes stress, distance, and unease.

Values are often somewhat stable through life but may change, especially with life stage transitions as we get older and focus on career building or care-giving or respond to challenges we encounter. A life event like a health crisis or some other wake-up call experience can causes use to question how we’re living and what’s important.

I recently browsed through all the tools for individuals on the World Values Day website and these three stood out to me as offering some excellent starting points for reflecting on your values today:

(1) World Values Day Guide for Individuals 

This is a free download with a values list that you can use to identify your top 10 personal values, then narrow down to a top 5, and then rank those from 1 to 5. The idea isn’t to pin yourself down to these 5 values forever, but to get you to reflect and compare and really ask yourself what’s most important. The exercise ends with the challenge to put your top value into action in your community with some examples provided.

(2) Living My Values Every Day, resource from The Zone

This free download includes two very thought-provoking exercises that build perfectly on the values identifying exercise above. Using two charts with prompting headings and questions, you reflect on to what extent you are living your values, what’s helping or hindering, your motivations, and actions you can take.

(3) Values Exploration Guide, by Lindsay West, The Values Coach

Another free download that offers a framework for reflection, this guide starts with a set of questions to look at the values behind what’s important to you in relationships, work, leisure, health, money, and your environment. After answering the questions in your own words with whatever comes to mind, the guide then turns to a values list exercise, similar to the Living My Values Every Day resource above, to find your top 10 values.

I love the kinds of thought-provoking questions that these three resources offer. They aren’t always easy to answer, but that’s part of what makes the reflection worthwhile. Values questions invite us to think deeply about what matters. One question or an exercise can be the beginning of a longer exploration and inner journey.

If you want more to ponder, I’ve selected a few values-focused questions from career resources I use frequently with clients and put them into a resource that you can view or download. Spread the word about World Values Day and discuss one of these questions today with a friend, your partner, or your kids!

If you want to dive deeper into this topic from the perspective of values alignment and career satisfaction, I suggest these books:

“What Next? Find the work that’s right for you” by Barbara Moses: This is a textbook-like resource and not something you read cover to cover, but you can dip into the sections that most appeal to you. Particularly helpful, in my opinion, is the first “Know Yourself” section of the book that offers some assessments and exercises to explore what motivates you at work and identify your core values.

“Making a Living While Making a Difference: Conscious careers for an era of interdependence” by Melissa Everett: I work with a lot of mission-minded people whose career satisfaction is connected to the kind of contribution they are making through their work. Part One of this book offers a framework for thinking about various “fields of opportunity” and how different job roles in a range of career fields can have an impact in a world where “the work to be done … is bigger than anyone’s personal career.”

“Creating a Life Worth Living: A practical course in career design for artists, innovators, and others aspiring to a creative life” by Carol Lloyd: Too often people with artistic ambitions and talents are steered into “practical” careers seemingly for their own good. However the values misalignment and neglect that can result from conforming in this way and playing it safe can lead to dissatisfaction, disillusionment, and even poor performance and career struggles. The author of this book values an artistic life and the book is a booster shot of validation, inspiration, and planning tools for crafting a potentially unconventional but rewarding career.

Happy World Values Day! Stay connected with what’s important to you and be an inspiration to yourself and others!

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