Have you ever asked yourself what the real influences of your decisions are? Why you prefer one situation over another? For instance why do you prefer being employed over working on your own? Or is it the other way around? Or why are you living where you are living right now? Why are you with the person you are in a relationship with right now?
It’s not primarily due to the circumstances or your emotions, especially not when there was a real decision involved. So why are you making these decisions then?
The answer lies at the core of your character, of what defines you as a person; and that is your personal value system.
What are Personal Values?
Personal values are the general expression of what is most important for you. A value expresses the worth of something, and in this case what you categorical like and dislike. So they are like categories for all your preferences in life. Values are formed starting in early childhood and are later consciously re-evaluated and can therefore be changed.
By comparing two values you can discover which is representing something that is more important than the other. Therefore you rate the one value over the other.
Personal values are generally operating in the background. They influence everything what you do but usually it happens on auto-pilot. You just know intuitively what you like and dislike and decide accordingly.
Why is it Good to Know Your Personal Values?
The answer is twofold:
First you get clarity and build your self-awareness by identifying your values and secondly knowing your highest values can act like a guide for you. It makes intelligent decisions easier. Also knowing your negative values, those from which you try to keep away from, is very helpful as well. When you are clearly aware of your value hierarchy you can consciously check situations against your value-system, which will create better decisions and results. It will be easier to keep your balance in life.
For instance when you are about to make an important decision you can double-check if going the one or the other way would go against one of your core values. On the long run, that would pose a problem for you.
So all in all it’s an awareness building process which can give you direction in life.
A List of Core Values
There are a lot of value lists out there, so here are just the real core values that most people have and that differentiate a character the most. I tried to keep the list tight and avoid repetition by synonyms:
|Beauty||Being the Best||Calmness||Cheerfulness|
Create Your Value Hierarchy
In order to create your 10 top-values do the following:
- Select the 10 values from the list above that you like most. (of course you can also do a Top 5 or Top 7)
- Start with the first in the list. Then order this by importance by comparing two values by asking: „Which one is more important to me if I had could only have one and had to compromise the second?“ Remove the winner and write it on top of a new list and then continue with the remaining 6 on the old list and so on.
- Do this for all 10 until you have an ordered list of your top 10 values.
Here are my top 10 personal values:
If you like, write your Top 10 (or Top 5) in the comments below!
Your value hierarchy expresses your character of course. Someone who values adventure highly is a different character as someone who values stability more. Someone who values success highly is different than someone who values family on top.
An interesting exercise is also to create your top 10 negative values, which express what you really dislike or what is totally unimportant to you.
Are Values Fixed or Can I Change Them?
By there very nature, your value-system tend to be more stable, it is your character in it’s many facettes. But single values are not static and fixed. They can change. Personal values usually change when something big happens, or when you are consciously re-evaluating your life and make a decision, based on your experiences, to change your value hierarchy.
As an example I valued diversity a lot in my first business. Later I learned by experience all the drawbacks of doing a lot at a time and now I value simplicity more.
So what when you are dissatisfied with a value you have and what to change it?
For instance you may have the top value of stability and you want to become a bit more flexible in your life. (could be the other way around as well…) Changing this would work if you create experiences and enjoy them that are in alignment with the new value: flexibility in this example.
So to integrate a new value into your top-values:
- Create positive experiences that express this value in your life
- Decrease experiences that are aligned with the opposite value in your life
- Also working on your beliefs will make it easier to adapt to new values.
What are your TOP 3 personal values? Write them into the comments below!
Great article Myrko! I’m not sure if you’ve seen the Schwartz Values, but that’s another great list, and it’s backed by quite a bit of research. Social psychologist, Shalom H. Schwartz, who pioneered the Theory of Basic Human Values theorized that the broad, underlying motivation of the many words we used to describe values can be distilled into a list of 10 value categories and 57 individual values.
I cover the list of 57 values here:
And, for anyone interested in the Schwartz Value Survey, you can check it out here:
You guys placed self fulfillment above all others? Thats very un-virtuous
here is my top values not in a particular order:
that is not values.
Love this! I grew up in a business family where standards and values were based on other criteria. It’s comforting to find an explanation of values based on the core of who we are, not what some group dictates. Thank you. (One tiny fyi: facets–but that is rather comforting, too, because you know so much and are still human 😉)
My top five
Recently I was inspired by the idea of how personal values can explain our previous choices and help to make better decisions in the future. This lead me to the point when I decided to write my own web application that help identify core values. I’m still improving it. Maybe it can help someone: http://personalvalu.es/
2. Meaningful Work
7. Inner Harmony
Thank you. This was very helpful.
Thank You so much for this!
**Interesting to see most people had the same core values.
What does it say about me?
I am not contended with my current life situation , and want to make some major personal and professional changes.
It looks like you’re in a great place to redirect your life. I’ve been there too.
I appreciate this article, it’s amazing how something so simple can have such a great impact. I came across this article because I was beginning to write a scholarship essay and one of the questions were „What do you value?“, I could not answer it. I was surprised at myself. I, at the age of 22, did not know what I valued in life. Then I googled and stumbled across this article, thank you. My top eleven (I had to add one more) values are: accountability, adventure, clarity, compassion, control, courage, energy, knowledge, honesty, love, and independence.
Thank you for the insightful post.
My top values are:
Hey Myrko Thum! I found this article truly insightful and I appreciate great written work as this one.
My core values are below and any suggestion on how to interpret them would be very helpful. Thank you!
Got top 10 list of mine
Determination – coupled with vision, nothing is impossible.
Independence – because no one else know your needs better than yourself.
Respect – yourself, others, environment, property
Balance – Social, Emotional, Physical, Spiritual, Mental
Curiosity – to keep life interesting and fun
My top 5:
1. Love – Agape love, showing compassion
2. Integrity – Doing what is right, staying true to yourself and others
3. Respect – High regard, showing consideration
4. Determination – Belief and willpower, having hope and showing courage
5. Awareness – Knowledge, the full truth and self awareness
This was awesome – it made me think!
My core values are stated below 1 self discipline 2. Moderation 3. Respect 4. Courage 5.money 6. Fulfilment
Appreciating the post,I think we must be able to consider these moral value when we are in dilemma,I have seen people who clame these value but when they were in bad situation they put every thing under their foot and forgot everythings and consider only themslves or when we make mistake do we compensate it or we shrink all values. People who were in dilemma and kept their values they can clame that they have them,otherwise in my idea they clame a dream.And in my idea we must not judge people who put them under their foot somethimes we are the cause of it ,it happened to me apparently the guy was guilty but the root of that action was me,so I forgave him and so did he ,so there is not any formule for it ,it depends!
Loved the post, thanks so much, my top 3 are:
this was a very interesting exercise (and insight):
Integrity – Family – Health – Friendship – Intelligence – Kindness – Fulfilment – Curiosity – Knowledge – Liveliness and most of the others
what was also interesting was those that were definitely not on my list:
Power – Accountability – Ambition – Money – Control – Status – Fame
I love to help people, am well educated, am interested in a wide range of things and do not tend to attract money ….
Thank you Myrko. Here are my Top 10 (I added a value which you didn’t have in the list):
– Loyalty (my addition)
My core values: integrity. 2.respect 3.success 4.love 5.personal development
Here’s my top 5:
Now that I see this list I understand better my current life situation and the decisions that I’ve taken. They’ve always been in line with these values.
Great post, thanks.
To add to my post above – I also would like to reduce the importance of comfort, and take connection down from the top to increase my self responsibility and self dependence.
I found it very interesting to assess what my core values actually are versus what I would like them to be. Had a hard time keeping the 2 separate.
What I think mine are now:
I would like to add discipline to that list, as well as increasing the importance of balance and passion, and add family. Fulfillment sure sounds good as well.
Thanks for this very helpful article.
Shan’t to know your comments on my values
@Jor Barrie, I think knowing your values is foremost valuable for yourself as described in the post. You have honesty and integrity on 1 and 2 and that speaks for itself, you are obviously very truth-loving and wouldn’t comprise that for anything.
Then you have interpersonal, social values like empathy, love and peace which probably makes you a people person easy to be with. :-)
Truth. Excellence, fairness, integrity. Effectiveness, knowledge, compassion, health, intelligence, determination.
Thanks great inspiration,
health, happiness, peace, family, humanity, cultural positive thinking and creative
great list, thanks myrko! :)
Hi Myrko; thanks for a great post! It has shown me that I really didn’t have a clue about my priorities! :-)
I came up with the following:
Although to be fair, there are a few more I would have liked to fit into my top ten! It seems far easier to think of things I don’t value highly, like power or wealth.
It would be interesting if you could manage to make sense of my list; I am going to have a try myself again, but it seems easier to make something of other people’s lists!
Oh and by the way that little antidote at the end of your reply was a square hit on the nail of the hammer. I imagine that over-focus on work is the #1 misalignment of values. My bet for why this is so is that work has the appearance of being under our control; we can see immediate results if we work a little later, work a little harder, work our selves to the bone; we can satisfy that creative impulse that way. But with relationships it is a much slower process. We build them brick by brick when we have the time, the opportunity; and one mistaken move and we can do quite a bit of damage to what took along time to help create. That is so if you are aware that you are creating; building relationships. The greatest challenge though to the family/love value is that if is difficult to see the creative process in the simple mundane-ness of simply being with those we care for. The value-added of our time is not so immediately apparent. I am thankful that recently I have become more aware of the power of the mundane interactions. I will now (almost) watch a movie or some such other thing that I do not enjoy doing simply to have time with people I enjoy who do. I am working on it at least. Stealing time from career is the difficult part.
Thanks again Myrko for the platform to think out loud.
Myrko:This was a very helpful and useful exercise. Thank you so much!
Here are my Top 5 Values:
I was reading that list and I was thinking that one of my top values is teaching/nurturing/showing/explaining a similar value system that you, Myrko, I think endorse, one that puts personal accountability into a societal situation. Anyone have a word for that?
Good to hear Zack, I also found reflecting on your own values helps to avoid getting too much off balance, for instance only going after your job/success, when family and love are in your top values.
Myrko, you are the man. Every time I read your posts I get the sense of how much work you have put in behind the scenes, but this one is of your best. Way to understand man!
My top 6 values are:
thx for your great posts, i like them.
My top3 personal values:
i think if i have these 3 i can solve everything else, just depends on my willpower.
This is my top 10 values :
Thanks Myrko Thum . Have a nice day .
Thanks for the great post.
are my top 3. I found the exercise challenging & insightful.
My top 5:
how are you doing?
I did myself a bit of thinking on this subject in the past weeks,
i ended up with:
Making a difference
the order not being quite clear acutally ;)
what do you think?
thanks and take care
you’re doing a great job, very dedicated!
@Mario, Freedom and Wisdom are most important for you. So as a guide for decisions, anything that would try to box you in or keep you away from feeling free would be a serious problem. Courage, Significance and Adventure are asking for a very active lifestyle. So try to integrate events that reflect these values to feel fulfilled and aligned with your values. Money, Success and Wealth is not on your list, which is totally fine and interesting. It may be that you need to consciously work there to keep that area in balance for you.
Great post Myrko,
I came up with the following list….any advise on how to interpret or look at it? thx in advance…