Your Life, on Purpose: Discover Your Values (2022)

Your values are a guiding light that lead you to a more meaningful, fulfilling life. Here’s how to identify your personal principles.

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Want to connect to your deeper self? Wish to live a richer, more meaningful life?

The answer, which you may find hard to believe, doesn’t lie outside yourself. Rather, it dwells within, in discovering your values. That’s because your values define what a meaningful life looks like to you.

Your values are the justification for who and how you are — at your deepest, most personal level.

Your values can even help you heal from different conditions. Several evidence-based treatments use values as the basis for treating depression.

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s completely understandable if you feel disconnected from your values — or like you’re at the mercy of everyone else’s personal agendas and desires for you.

But here’s the great news: You can find your way. The key is to pause as the business swirls around you and reflect on the qualities that are most pivotal to you alone — not to anyone else.

Identifying your values and living them out loud helps you build a fulfilling, satisfying life in a range of ways:

Not letting negative emotions or thoughts run the show

When you know your core values, it’s easier not to allow fear, anxiety, or negative thoughts to hold you back from pursuing deeply important, inspiring projects, activities, or adventures.

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Your values can draw out the best (internal) pep talk for giving that poignant speech, writing a book that helps someone through a painful time, or traveling to a fabulous, bucket-list location. Your core values are the fuel that keeps you moving in the direction you set out to go, even when jitters or self-doubt show up.

Here’s how to reduce anxiety right now.

Similarly, your core values serve as resistance bands to how much (if any) anger, frustration, jealousy, or other potentially overwhelming emotions can build while resolving a conflict or mending a relationship. Your core values guide you in taking action on what you hold dear.

In real life

If you’re someone who values candidness, living by mantras like “keeping it real” or “no filter” might leave you showing little resistance to containing your negative emotions.

If you’re someone who values harmony with nature and views fellow humans as your “brother,” you might keep a tighter rein on negative emotions and spend more time on mindfulness.

Here’s how to deal with difficult emotions.

Here’s how to navigate especially stubborn negative thoughts.

Keeping you rooted in your boundaries

Your core values help you to stand firm when declining not-so-meaningful requests, invites, and activities. Saying “no” to less-important things gives you the time, energy, and resources for what really matters to you.

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If you still have a hard time saying no, though, know that it’s a skill anyone can sharpen and master.

In real life

You might value closeness despite growing up in a traumatic home environment. Right now, that core value may manifest as codependency, but there are steps you can take to heal and adhere to your nature.

Or, being viewed as someone who helps others could be one of your guiding principles. It might help to discover emotionally intelligent ways to show care while still preserving your boundaries and avoiding being drained as a people-pleaser.

Giving you a sense of purpose

Articulating your values helps you to wake up with a sense of purpose that carries you throughout your day, no matter what hiccups or stressors arise.

Research has found that having a purpose in life can lead to a variety of benefits, including reducing anxiety, depression, and stress. Maintaining a sense of purpose in midlife can even predict greater physical well-being.

Navigating sticky situations

When difficult situations or ethical dilemmas arise, your core values may guide you in your decision making. Your core values can give you clarity during possibly chaotic, confusing times. They lead you to make wise, healthy decisions that could set you up for success in the long term.

In real life

Perhaps you have a core value of personal excellence, spurred by past experiences. You may discover that you’ve been acting this out in ways that are narcissistic or with grandeur.

By reflecting on your guiding principles and maybe even seeking therapy to get help recalibrating your thoughts and behaviors, you could get back on track in a way that builds up your relationships and fortifies your success.

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Online, you’ll find plenty of values lists. For example, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics lists these five core values to help athletes thrive in all areas of their lives:

  • Integrity: knowing and doing what’s right, including being honest and learning from your mistakes
  • Respect: treating others the way you’d like to be treated, including being accepting, considerate, and encouraging
  • Responsibility: embracing opportunities to contribute, including being helpful and reliable
  • Sportsmanship: bringing your best to all competition in life, including being humble and gracious
  • Servant leadership: serving the common good, including working hard and helping others to grow and succeed

On his website, author James Clear features a list of more than 50 core values. He warns to only pick a handful to focus on, because if everything’s a core value, then nothing’s really a priority.

There are so many ways to discover your values, which is why we’re sharing an assortment of strategies. You can pick the exercises that resonate with you.

Also, because your core values aren’t set in stone, return to your favorite exercises periodically to rediscover what’s important to you.

Use your peak experiences

Your most meaningful experiences can be clues into your core values. To tap into your peak experiences, Dr. Jennifer Leigh Selig, co-author of “Deep Creativity,” suggests this exercise:

  • Describe a time you felt “high on life.”
  • Draw this experience, even if your drawing skills start and stop with stick figures; this simply provides another perspective.
  • Reflect on this peak experience, considering the values that were being expressed at that time.

Use your emotions

Similar to peak experiences, our emotions can help us answer the difficult question of “what are my core values?” Selig also suggests this collage exercise:

  • Flip through different magazines, looking for images that stir your emotions.
  • Create a collage using these images.
  • After you’ve finished the collage, ask yourself, “What is happening in each picture? What values are being expressed?”

Do a self-audit

According to Gary Chapman, author of the seminal book “The 5 Love Languages,” before we can love someone, we must learn what we personally value. And those values can actually show up in our less-than-positive feelings and experiences. Done right, we can use these seemingly frustrating parts of our lives to pinpoint our core values.

Using Chapman’s words as inspiration, perform a self-audit, considering:

  • What do I get mad about?
  • What do I most complain about?
  • What do I wish I had more of?

Look to your classics

Connecting to your younger self can actually reunite you with values that are deeply embedded in your soul, says Selig. Here’s how, with an exercise from “Deep Creativity”:

  • Think back to when you were a child or teen.
  • Think about your favorite personal classics — books, images, movies, music, or works of art that spoke to you then.
  • Write these classics down on a big piece of paper.
  • Reflect on the values that these classics illustrate, which may still be important to you today.

Pack up your values

Exploring objects you can’t live without may just help you identify the values you can’t live without, either. According to psychologists Diana Hill and Debbie Sorensen in their book “ACT Daily Journal,” start by penning answers to these three questions:

  • If you had to immediately evacuate your home, what important objects would you pack?
  • What do these objects reveal about what you most love?
  • How can you act on this love today?

Use these questions

To further discover your values, author Karen Benke suggests asking yourself these questions, skipping the questions that don’t resonate with you and diving deep into the ones that do with a simple “Why?”:

  • What’s your most prized possession?
  • What’s a sound from nature that calms you?
  • Where do you feel the safest?
  • What was your favorite place to play as a child?
  • What’s your favorite piece of clothing?
  • What’s your favorite game?

Living a rich, meaningful life starts with discovering your core values. Your core values are qualities that are both the starting blocks and home base for you. These guiding principles help you to prioritize activities, relationships, and projects worthy of your attention and intention — and to know how to respond in challenging times.

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To make the most of your values, make them tangible. List your core values. Snap a photo and use it as your phone or computer background. Paste the list around your home and workspace.

And, of course, once you know your values, start living them.

What’s one value-inspired step you can take today? Right now?


What are values and how do they help you discover your purpose? ›

Core values are the fundamental beliefs you have about your life. They guide your behaviors, decisions, and actions. They bring about a sense of purpose and self-worth. They remind you what's important to you and what you want more of in your life.

What is the purpose of values in life? ›

Values help us live with direction and purpose – like a guiding compass. Whatever is going on in our lives, our values can show us a path forward, and help us make better choices. Values are also intimately linked to our sense of self, and they're essential for our mental health.

What are the 5 values of life? ›

Five Core Values
  • INTEGRITY. Know and do what is right. Learn more.
  • RESPECT. Treating others the way you want to be treated. Learn more.
  • RESPONSIBILITY. Embrace opportunities to contribute. Learn more.
  • SPORTSMANSHIP. Bring your best to all competition. Learn more.
  • SERVANT LEADERSHIP. Serve the common good. Learn more.

How do you define your values? ›

Personal values are part of the moral code that guides our actions and defines who we are. They are what we consider important, the things that matter to our well-being and happiness. The simplest way to describe what personal values are is to think in terms of your personality and behaviors.

What is your purpose in life examples? ›

“My life purpose is to stand up for issues that I believe in and to contribute positively to my community. I want to leave the world knowing that I made it a better place.” If you care deeply about social issues or giving back to your community, this life purpose statement may work for your goals.

How are values connected to life? ›

Your values form the foundation of your life. They dictate the choices you make and determine the direction that your life takes. Your values will influence your decisions related to your relationships, career, and other activities you engage in. Yet despite this importance, few people choose their values.

What is your values in life? ›

Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work. They (should) determine your priorities, and, deep down, they're probably the measures you use to tell if your life is turning out the way you want it to.

What is the greatest value in life? ›


What are important values? ›

What Are Some Common Values?
  • Loyalty.
  • Spirituality.
  • Humility.
  • Compassion.
  • Honesty.
  • Kindness.
  • Integrity.
  • Selflessness.

What are your top 3 personal values? ›

A List of Core Values
15 more rows
Feb 22, 2013

What are the 7 types of values? ›

What are our Seven Core Values?
  • Honesty. Loyalty, integrity, uprightness, a complete refusal to use any underhanded method to help win business or gain any kind of advantage. ...
  • Boldness. ...
  • Trust. ...
  • Freedom. ...
  • Team Spirit. ...
  • Modesty. ...
  • Fun.

How do you develop values and beliefs? ›

These influences are developed by person's upbringing, his experiences, and his education. Both play an important role in how people build their system of values and beliefs, but the nurture influence plays a much stronger role in this particular situation.

Where do personal values come from? ›

Personal values stem from our social background, religion (if we have one), ethnic origin, culture, upbringing, education and our experiences of life and work. Personal values are not static.

What are some examples of personal values? ›

What Are Some Common Values?
  • Loyalty.
  • Spirituality.
  • Humility.
  • Compassion.
  • Honesty.
  • Kindness.
  • Integrity.
  • Selflessness.

Where do a person's values come from? ›

Personal values stem from our social background, religion (if we have one), ethnic origin, culture, upbringing, education and our experiences of life and work. Personal values are not static.

What values should a person have? ›

List of Personal Core Values
  • adventurous.
  • authenticity.
  • commitment.
  • compassion.
  • concern for others.
  • consistency.
  • courage.
  • dependability.

How do I change my values? ›

Change Your Values, Change Your Life
  1. Consciously Choose Your Values and Prioritize Them. ...
  2. Example of Before and After List of Values. ...
  3. What Would Happen if You Consciously Chose Your Values? ...
  4. You Change the Way You Think, Feel, and Behave in Every Area of Life. ...
  5. What Would Your Values Need to Be to Live Your Best Life?

What do you value most in life? ›

10 Things to Value More Than Money in Your Life
  1. Your Health. Treat your body with the respect it deserves. ...
  2. Your Friends. Spending time with friends is key to our emotional wellbeing. ...
  3. Gratitude. Appreciate the miracle of life. ...
  4. Your Reputation. ...
  5. Your Family. ...
  6. Your Education. ...
  7. Giving To Others. ...
  8. Life Experiences.
May 17, 2022

How are values connected to life? ›

Your values form the foundation of your life. They dictate the choices you make and determine the direction that your life takes. Your values will influence your decisions related to your relationships, career, and other activities you engage in. Yet despite this importance, few people choose their values.


1. How to find your Life Purpose? Core Values to Succeed & Stay Positive | Motivational training Video
(Skillopedia - Skills for the real world)
2. The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? by Rick Warren - Audiobook Full Length
(Christianity Audiobooks)
3. Discover Your Life Values for Clarity, Understanding, Confidence, Direction and Life Purpose
(Lee Ashby Coach)
4. Dolores Cannon: Finding Your True Self
(Ozark Research Institute)
5. Understanding the Gene Keys: Discover Your Higher Purpose - with Richard Rudd | Know Thyself EP3
(André Duqum)
6. Steve Jobs Secrets of Life
(Silicon Valley Historical Association)

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