Write down what really matters to you in life. What would you consider to be your values? It doesn’t matter how many you write down, just let it flow. When you pause, feel free to overwrite what you’ve written. This may take several attempts and is likely to evolve over time. You may find that some words resonate more than others. If you find this process very difficult, you could try writing down your favourite qualities of the people you most admire. We call these imitation values.

If that approach doesn’t work for you, another way of identifying your core values is to look inwards and consider how you make the personal decisions with which you feel most comfortable. What criteria do you use when exercising the judgements with which you feel happiest? Is that driving criteria the security of your family, the range of experiences that you enjoy, stimulation from arts of literature or something else? Note down these criteria. You will need them for this exercise.

Once you’ve got your list, create a grid of nine squares and place the most important value at the centre. Fill out the rest of the grid, justifying each of the remaining values in terms of how they enable your central core value. Again, this is an iterative process so can be a work-in-progress for as long as you like! Here’s an example:

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By creating a hierarchy of prioritized values, even if it is a partial one, we begin to understand what drives our decision-making. In other words, we know why we are or should be doing something when we have a full comprehension of exactly what it is that we stand for. We need to stand for things that matter in order to have a reason to exist. We are, after all, called “human beings,” not “human doings”. We spend a lot of time doing but very little time focused on being. To truly be, we need to understand who it is that we are actually being. In turn, to understand who we are being, requires some recognition of why we are being that quality or entity.

Identifying this should make our judgements simpler and easier. If they do not resonate with values on your grid, whatever options you are considering for the enhancement of your personal or professional life will be less likely to achieve your goals.

If You Get Stuck

The most common reason for getting stuck is that an existing thought pattern is blocking or manipulating the process from happening more smoothly. If you have already completed the Thought Assessment Framework then we can discuss these patterns as it’s highly likely they’ll be affecting other areas of your life too. However, here are some tips that may help unblocking the most common patterns, hopefully one or more of these will help you:

  1. If there are two values competing for priority, often it helps to create a list for both, writing down the features or benefits for each value. Is it possible for one value to be a product of the other value? Does one of them naturally come from the other value being present?
  2. If there is a value that seems to be far more aspirational than factual, in other words, the value isn’t necessarily something you feel you live by today; allow yourself to include that value if you feel you are committed to progressively living by it moving forward.
  3. If there’s a value that seems to contradict another value, try and analyse why that contradiction seems to be in place. Is the contradiction truly valid? Or is the contradiction something that a thought pattern is presenting? This is why the Thought Assessment Framework is so important. Often the contradiction is because of a personality trait, and we have a choice to let the apparent contradiction exist or to remove one of the values so the contradiction is no longer present. If one value is to be removed, you may need to return to the priority method found in point 1, of writing down the features of benefits for each value.

Using The Grid For Decisions

Knowing what we think we want to do, does not necessarily mean that we will be able to easily determine if they will serve us best. We can discover this, however, by scoring decisions against the priorities that we have identified in the values grid.

Using a decision that you are about to make or have just made, cross-match it with each of your nine values. You could, for example, rate your values out of a maximum score of five. So, using the example grid above, if you were thinking about getting involved in a new venture, project, relationship, journey, etc; you could score it a four in terms of evolution because it would really open your personal horizons. However, it could score as a one in terms of freedom because it could limit your options to explore other options. Alternatively, if a new opportunity is with someone or a group of people who share the same value of freedom, the commitment part would not necessarily reduce the freedom score due to the alignment of values. Your grid is unlikely to contain the same values so please replace these scenarios with your own. At first you can test-drive them with fictitious or actual contexts to see whether they resonate sufficiently.

Making decisions about your life, career or company becomes much quicker and easier when you have a clear alignment between how you make choices and what you have identified as your core values.

Using The Grid For Inspiration

Stuck for inspiration or future direction? Try thinking of circumstances or decisions that you could make, that are based on your values grid. For example, if you have been considering setting up your own new venture but you were not quite sure which direction to go in, use your grid as the guide. True alignment lies where the new venture “ticks all the boxes” or in this case, scores as near to a five (or your own highest score) in each box as possible.

If you do not know what you next move should be, you can generate possibilities from looking at the grid. It can be used to filter the decisions that you could make. Also, when researching opportunities, situations or people that you are thinking of getting involved with, you can check out their own core values and see if they match with your own,

Using The Grid For Communication

Communication of your core values will ensure that the people with whom you are in any form of relationship are aware of your values, what you stand for and what you value the most. It is equally important to understand what is driving the people around you.

When we communicate our alignment frameworks, it opens a portal of understanding that joins us together. Doing so effectively creates a new micro-universe of resonance; a new belief syntax between people. Communicating the alignment between your decisions and core values will mean that there are fewer questions about how things may be perceived, and it should also enable harmonious interactions.

We hope this exercise helps. It certainly should form a basis for further clarity as you move forward.