I came across this exercise in my friend Greg Bell’s book, Water the Bamboo. The act of choosing and defining my core values shed a lot of light on why I do the things I do—with my business as well as my artistic life—and how to frame those choices for myself and for others. Give it a try; I think you’ll like the results. You can learn more about Greg and his book here.
From the book Water the Bamboo, © 2009 by Greg Bell, JD. Used with the author’s kind permission.
Read [this] list of values carefully and select the five that are most important to you. (The values listed are just suggestions; if you have other values, use those instead.) Resist the temptation to select more than five—having too many values means you haven’t decided what’s important.
- Don’t confuse values and goals—a goal is something you intend to accomplish, whereas a value is an internal belief. The advantage of starting with understanding your values is that you avoid setting a goal that is potentially in conflict with your values.
- Be sure to choose which values you truly care about, not ones you feel you “ought” to choose. What values would create the ideal life for you?
- Your values can shift. Do you have the same values as you had when you were a teenager? Probably not.
- After you have selected your five values, ask yourself, “What does each value mean to me?” and, “Why did I choose these?”
- Next to each of your five core values, list ways you are currently living out that value. Do you notice any gaps between the values you selected and the way you spend your time and energy?
- Create small goals associated with each value to begin expressing and living your values in your everyday life. Pick something you can do right away that doesn’t take a lot of time, energy or money. The sooner you take some action, the more likely you are to follow through.
- Bring your values to life by choosing one of your five values each week to focus on and highlight or “live” even more.
Review the list below carefully and choose the five values that are most important to you:
If you have questions or comments about this exercise and your results, please contact me.