There is much use of the word ‘values’ in the personal development industry. It flies around as often as the word ‘coffee’. But on speaking to people who are just beginning their journey into self development, or others who are not qualified as coaches or NLP Practitioners, the word seems to be somewhat hollow. They nod and give a faint “mmm” at the mention of values, and then in secret they say to me, ‘Exactly what do you mean when you ask me about my values?’

What we do, how we behave, and how we think is directed by our core values which have developed within us of their own accord throughout our lives, and are the strongest and deepest parts of our personality. We create our values based on our environment, our upbringing and our experiences. We decide what is most important to us based on what we see, hear and feel in our world.

When we become aware of our values and shape our lives to be aligned with them, we experience great fulfillment, happiness and energy towards each new day because we are tapping into the mechanics of what makes us tick, and using it to drive us forward.

An example of someone consciously living their values (knowing what’s important to them and designing their life around those points) is an athlete. We could assume that the values of an athlete would be health, success, achievement, and recognition and they live their values by training each day (health), competing (success & achievement) and winning (recognition). Knowing this person’s values we could assume that they would not be drawn towards a career as a truck driver or receptionist because well… they would be absolutely miserable.

As the author of this article I’d like to give you a personal account of how discovering and tapping into my values has completely turned my life around, and resulted in the feeling that I am truly living my purpose. On the flipside of this I’ll describe a time in my life when I was living in an environment which clashed strongly with my values and how it made me incredibly sick for many months.

My top 5 values are Growth, Health, Connection, Fun, and Contribution. To translate this, it means that the most important things to me in life are growing as a person, taking care of my body and mind through diet and exercise, deeply connecting with others, always having fun in everything I do, and contributing to the world in as many ways as possible.

To give you an idea of how it can affect you if you don’t live your life by your values I’ll tell you a story about what I went through about a year ago. I was living at my mother in law’s house for 6 months while settling my current property. Being that I value taking care of myself, the environment and everything in it, and these things are supremely important to me, it was a shock to my system when I realized that my mother in law had very little environmental consciousness- in the midst of a serious drought in our city she was the worst water water I had ever seen, doesn’t recycle at all, and is disgusted by animals even telling me a story once of throwing her dog over the fence.

Living in an environment like this clashed strongly with my values. My two top values of growth and health extend out to the environment in my map of the world, connection with her was absolutely non existent, it was definitely was no fun living there, and my attempts to contribute to the family or the environment were constantly ridiculed. So you can understand why this would create a serious clash of the deepest parts of my personality, my core values in which I had shaped my life around for many years. Conversely having me living in her household was cashing with her values and caused her considerable stress as well.

On the flipside, to give you an idea of how I live my life now that I’m aware of my values, my business as a Life Coach taps into all of these. My work with clients and myself is based on personal and professional growth, I live very healthily, I’m connecting with people on a really deep level in my work and relationships, building the business is fun and creative, and I do it all knowing that I’m contributing to the lives of others, the environment, and my future family security. My actions are aligned with my core values and it really does feel amazing.

So my question to you is do you know your values?

Once we know our values there’s so much we can do with this information. We can change the order of them; for example Contribution used to be my top value which meant that I put everyone else before my health. When I made the decision to put health as my number 1 value many things in my external world changed and I was actually able to contribute even more. Change the order to what suits you best to reach your goals and live your full potential, and it can power you forward in your life.
The following exercise will help you identify your core values.
For this exercise let yourself write fluidly any words that come to mind. You will eventually get to a point where one word stands out and feels strong for you. This is one of your core values. It’s ideal to find 5 main words which represent your top values.

The question to ask yourself is; What’s important to you about…?
Use catergories such as LIFE, CAREER, RELATIONSHIPS, MONEY, SPIRITUALITY, and list all the words that come up for you. You will notice that some words keep coming up repeatedly and feel stronger than other words. They may feel like they sum up what's really important to you about that area of your life. This word is one of your core values.

We can also find out HOW we are currently living our values and how we could live them even more, creating more of that elusive happiness and fulfillment we all want.

So lets do an exercise to identify what percentage you feel you are currently living each value, and what you can implement into your life starting today to experience the true sense of fulfillment that comes from living your values.
What percentage are you’re living your number 1 value right now… be honest

Step 1. Value:

Step 2. Percentage you’re living this value now:

Step 3. What are you currently doing to live this value: (what in your life taps into this value?)

Step 4. What do you need to do to more of to really live this value: (what can you bring into your life or do more of?)

There's a lot of information to digest here and it may be worth doing this exercise now and then coming back to it in a few weeks time to notice what has changed and what areas you still need to work on. Whatever you do with it, I encourage you to find out what your values are, find out what’s most important to you in your life, and start pitting in place strategies to bring those things into your environment. Sometimes the smallest change in one or two areas of your life can create the most amazing transformation.

Live and love your life, and always strive to live it even more!

Author's Bio: 

Joanna Sherwell is a qualified Life Coach and NLP Practitioner in Melbourne, and is passionate about assisting people to unleash their true human potential. She works with clients throughout Australia via phone coaching and Skype. She is also in the process of writing 3 books and expanding her property portfolio. Visit to find out more about Joanna and contact her about unleashing your full potential.