Know Your Values

Maria Moratto

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Values are the beliefs that motivate us to do things and pursue happiness. Since values are the source of meaning and satisfaction in life, we must know and prioritize them. Values Clarification is nothing more than an exercise we perform to become aware of our most important values.

It is the process in which you will find out in a clear and concise way what you do believe. This process will help you look into yourself, understand how others view you and vice-versa, and why you do what you do on a daily basis. It will improve your self-esteem and self-confidence because it shows your place in the world. It will give you a definite sense of purpose, which you can use in all areas of your life. It will help you decide whom you want to spend your life with, which is the basis of a happy relationship. It will also tell you whom and what you are willing to die for. You values are a representation of your core.

Values are divided into two categories: instrumental and terminal.

Instrumental: These are values that describe how we are or how we want to be in life. They describe our human character and we strongly believe in them. They are, for example: aesthetics, ambition, authority, capability, care, cheerfulness, cleanliness, common sense, cooperation, courage, etc.

Terminal: These are values that reflect our reasons for living. They are what we are about. They are, for example: accomplishment, achievement, adventure, appearance, career, celebration, close friendship, comfortable life, contentment, country, etc.

Know your values And now comes the fun part. You will list your important values. Here’s how you do it:

1. Make a list of values that you think are important for you. (For a thorough list of values, please, contact me). Now, if you have no idea how to find your values, take a look around you, revisit people you admire and decide what it is that you like the most about them. Write down what this person stands for. This is the person’s values. You can make them yours and add them to your list.

2. Understand the meaning of each of your chosen values. Use a dictionary or, better yet, try to make up your own definition of the values. This can be a great exercise per se, for we usually don’t think about these things very much, even less about their meanings.

For example: Honesty. The Webster dictionary says that honesty is the act of being honest, which means, never deceiving, stealing, or taking advantage of others. Personally, you could agree with this definition but you could also simplify it by saying: “honesty is the act of not lying, or the act of being truthful. ” You could also add that honesty is good in most cases, but in others, it is not so recommended; in fact, in some circumstances a person shouldn’t be honest at all. These instances, you might add, occur when a person can be hurt—your friend asks your opinion about the dress she just bought and you think her choice of colors is just awful. Should you tell her the truth?

Now, that is your definition. Remember that values should never be judged, since they are unique to each individual and we should never dispute each person’s beliefs.

3. Once you have your list, prioritize it: from the most to the least important value. Take your time. Perhaps you want to do this when you are sitting quietly, so you can meditate about the importance of these values to you.

4. Think about the people you really resonate with. Do they have the same values as you do?

5. Think about the ones who don’t have the same values as you do. How do you deal with them? Can you accept the fact that each person is different and, therefore, deserves your respect anyway? How can you live and let live?

Becoming aware of our values is worth only when we learn that each life is shaped in a different way and, therefore, we should be the first ones to learn not to judge people. Even though we don’t accept some people’s behavior, we can certainly try to live with them the best way we can. This is called tolerance.

© Maria Moratto 2005 About the author Dr. Maria Moratto holds five degrees and is a life coach. She promotes coaching, seminars and courses in developing the perfect life blueprint, which includes attracting abundance and loving relationships, time management, stress management, diversity, goal setting, career search and change, values clarification, leisure, self-improvement, college life, spirituality, natural health and lifestyle. She is also writing a book on successful relationships, coming soon. Visit her website at and sign up for a free e-zine that is short, informative, and fun. In it you will find ideas, hints, and resources to improve your life, have fun in the process, and find true happiness. Go to her blog at: for great discussions on these topics. You may reprint this article in its entirety as long as you add this source box. I'd also appreciate an email:


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