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1.3. My values

This exercise will help you to identify your core values, which guide how we want to live our lives. Think about how satisfied you are with your current situation and what kind of a life you would like to lead.

My values

Read the two scenarios and finish the sentences

Scenario 1

You wake up in the morning. It is your birthday – you are turning 80 years old today. You never made any changes to the way you are currently living your life. You start to think about the past and you look back on your life. Finish the following sentences:

  • “I spent too much time worrying about...”
  • “I spent too little time...”
  • “If I could go back in time, I would...”

You might see that you are not completely satisfied with the way you have lived your life. Try to think about what could help you to live your life in a way that you will be happy with your choices when you look back over your life.

Scenario 2

Imagine again that it is your 80th birthday. You are having a party. Everyone you care about is at the party. What do you want them to remember about you? You have lived a happy life that you are satisfied with. What has your life been like? Your family and friends are giving speeches at your party. Finish the sentences:

  • Your friend is describing you: “You have been a friend, who...”
  • Your partner or close family member talks about you: “You have been a partner/family member who...”
  • Your child talks about the way you have acted as a parent: “You have been a parent who...”
  • You are remembering your life: “I am especially happy about my life because...”

Your values

In scenario 2 you are describing your values.

There can be a big difference between your values and your current situation. Once you have identified your core values, you can begin to make important decisions to bring your current situation in line with your values. Upholding your values will make your life more satisfying and meaningful.

Values

Our values tell us how we want to live our lives and how we want to treat ourselves, others and the world. A value might be, for example, “I want to be kind and present with other people” or “I want to take good care of myself”. With every decision we make, and every interaction we have with others, we have the choice whether or not to uphold our values.

Below you can find a list of values and a description of how that value may present itself in your behavior. You can use the list as inspiration to help you identify your own values.

List of values

  • Honesty - I am honest about my actions to myself and others
  • Freedom - I act accordingly to my own will, regardless of the expectations of others
  • Fairness - I act fairly toward other people and I expect others to treat me fairly in return
  • Respect - I act respectfully towards myself and others
  • Safety - I take care of the safety of myself and others. I consider the short-term and long-term effects of my actions on other people
  • Openness - I share my feelings and thoughts openly to those close to me, although it may seem difficult
  • Love - I treat myself and others with love
  • Flexibility - I strive for flexibility in my thoughts and actions, even in difficult situations
  • Responsibility - I take responsibility for myself and my behavior
  • Friendliness - I am kind to other people
  • Grit/stamina - I hang on to the goals that are important to me in the face of adversity
  • Presence - I am genuinely present in the moment

Take a moment to identify the values that you want to live by. Write down the values most important to you. You will return to them in the last section.

Goals

Values are not the same as goals. Goals are concrete objectives that you can achieve, whereas values continuously affect how you act and behave. For example, you may have the goal of “being in a satisfying relationship”, but you can continuously uphold your value of “behaving respectfully and kindly towards other people”. Upholding your values will help you to achieve your goals.