How do I identify my values and figure out what is important to me in my life? First that is a big question and one that people can spend a lot of time trying to figure it out. Also, keep in mind that values, once discovered, are not set in stone. Your priorities and values can change especially throughout life. What is important to you as a single college student may not be important to at 40 years old with a spouse and 2 kids! Also they can change through experiences. Something you thought you wanted to pursue and was really important to you, you may find out it wasn’t and that is ok, it is a part of life. People are also at different stages in discovering their values and that is also ok, try not to compare yourself to others. Some people knew they wanted to be a doctor and help others since high school. Others are still trying to figure out their direction in college. It is important to not only identify your values but reevaluate them throughout your life.
There are some questions you can ask yourself to help you to begin discovering your values.
- What issues get you the most fired up when you talk about them, or hear others talking about? Why do those issues affect you in this way?
- Think of 2 people you really respect. What characteristics do you admire in them and why?
- Think of a moment in your life that was really satisfying or fulfilling for you. What was that moment and what made you feel that way about it?
- Jump ahead to the end of your life. What are the three most important lessons you have learned and why are they so critical? What are the things you have hope you accomplished throughout your life?
Now look over your responses. Do any themes emerge? What principles, beliefs or ideas stand out most in your answers? These are likely some of your personal values.