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:

Abundance Accountability Achievement Action
Adventure Ambition Awareness Balance
Beauty Being the Best Calmness Cheerfulness
Clarity Comfort Compassion Competition
Connection Contribution Control Courage
Creativity Curiosity Determination Discipline
Effectiveness Empathy Energy Enthusiasm
Excellence Fairness Faith Fame
Family Flexibility Freedom Friendship
Fulfillment Fun Harmony Happiness
Health Honesty Honor Humility
Independence Integrity Intelligence Intimacy
Inspiration Kindness Knowledge Liveliness
Love Money Nature Passion
Peace Perfection Persistance Philanthropy
Power Respect Security Simplicity
Significance Spirituality Spontaneity Strength
Stability Success Status Teamwork
Tolerance Tradition Truth Vitality
Wealth Wisdom

Create Your Value Hierarchy

In order to create your 10 top-values do the following:

  1. Select the 10 values from the list above that you like most. (of course you can also do a Top 5 or Top 7)
  2. 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.
  3. Do this for all 10 until you have an ordered list of your top 10 values.

Here are my top 10 personal values:

  1. Fulfillment
  2. Inspiration
  3. Contribution
  4. Health
  5. Family
  6. Love
  7. Creativity
  8. Success
  9. Truth
  10. Integrity

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:

  1. Create positive experiences that express this value in your life
  2. Decrease experiences that are aligned with the opposite value in your life
  3. 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!