Going through life without knowing your values is like trying to navigate a ship without a map. It's easy to get lost, feel confused, and lose focus of your destination. 

Your core values affect every aspect of your life. When you feel stuck, they can help get you out of a rut. When you're not sure what to do next, values help lead the way toward decisions that bring you greater satisfaction and joy. Core values help you align your actions with your innate strengths and create a life based on what makes you happy - not others' expectations

Sounds powerful, right? There's only one problem: Many of us never take the time to actually define our values.

When I work with clients, it's my job to help them articulate exactly what drives them. Here are four proven techniques I use as a high-performance coach that'll help you define and embrace your personal core values. 

1. Take a values assessment

There are a number of different questionnaires that can help you articulate your values. One I recommend is the 15-minute Values in Action (VIA) Survey. Unlike other assessments, the VIA is grounded in decades of research and highlights positive traits as opposed to harping on weaknesses. In other words, it help you embrace great qualities you never even knew you had.

You can also use a word inventory. Using a long list of common values, circle words that pop out to you. Once you've done that, you can go a step further and group any values that seem similar.

2. Dig deep into past experiences

Questionnaires are helpful, but the most powerful insights comes from inside ourselves. Don't underestimate the power of looking back to power the forward.

Reflect on your past experiences with questions like:

  • What are my most redeeming qualities?
  • What types of environments inspire my best work or feelings of satisfaction?
  • What, if I had my choice, would I never do again if I didn't have to?
  • What do I consider my peak experiences? How, if at all, are they linked?

Mine the results for central themes and patterns that emerge. 

3. Check your schedule

Your priorities are a reflection of what you value. By watching how you spend your time, you can get a grasp on what you put first day after day.

For instance, if you clock 14-hour days at the office, there's a good chance that values associated with professionalism and personal growth make your list. If you consistently make time for your significant other or a close group of friends, your values probably skew towards connection and intimacy.

Once you've defined your values, ask yourself:

  • Are these values that you're implementing in your current everyday life?
  • If not, what habits need to change?
  • What actions do you need to take to find greater alignment?

It's important to remember that your values aren't fixed. They change over time. No matter what you value, you'll be armed with a new self-awareness tool to measure your actions and priorities.

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