How to understand your personal values and live a more fulfilled life


Understanding personal values

Personal values are those things which are most important to you. They include what you believe, what motivates you and those things which makes you happy. Your values will influence your behaviour and guide you in your decisions. While we will hold many beliefs and be motivated by a range of values, there will be a small number which are core and more significant for us. When our lives are aligned to what we believe, we are more likely to live a happy and fulfilled life. 

The importance of personal values 

Personal values are an important guide for us when making decisions about how we live our lives.  Therefore taking time to identify your key values will help you find the clarity and confidence needed to make choices which are right for you. If the choices you make are authentic and in line with what matters to you, then you are more likely to find fulfilment in your personal and professional life.

Our values also reflect how we relate to others.  There will be certain expectations which impact how we both treat and expect to be treated by our colleagues, friends and family. For example, if openness is important to you then you may struggle with someone who rarely shares what they are thinking.  We may be drawn to people with similar values, and we may struggle with those whose values are different from our own. An awareness of our differences will help us to understand each other better, but also to find people we connect with.

Understanding your values helps you to make sense of situations you find difficult. If you feel uncomfortable about a situation or unsure about a decision you need to make, ask yourself how your values come into play. It may be that something crucial is missing, or is in conflict with your values. Developing this awareness will help you to understand your challenges and be better equipped to respond with confidence.

When you experience times of unhappiness or feel unfulfilled in your personal or professional life, think about any values which could be missing for you. This will help you to make sense of your situation, discover what could be different, and find ways to address this.

How to identify your core personal values

Here are a couple of exercises to help you to identify your core personal values.

Real life situations

Using our own experience is a great way of understanding what is important to you and will help you identify your personal values.

1. Think about a situation or event which was positive for you and when you felt happy and confident. Ask yourself the following questions:

~ Why did this situation or event make you feel positive, happy or confident?

~ What activities were you doing?

~ Who were you with?

~ What was your role?

~ Can you identify any significant values which were present?

2. Identify a situation which you found difficult or when you felt unhappy or uncomfortable. Ask yourself the following questions:

~ Why did this situation make you feel uncomfortable or unhappy?

~ What activities were you doing?

~ What was your role?

~ Can you identify any missing or conflicting values? 

3. You should now have a list of values. Look at the list and put them in order of importance for you. Aim for three to five core values.

Core values exercise

1. Write down all of the things which are important to you, make you happy and motivate you. Some examples might include: honesty, collaboration, openness, creativity, courage, dependability, freedom and respect. You can find lists of values online to help provide examples. 

2. Look at your words and group together any which are similar. For example, authenticity and integrity. Then for each group pick the one which is most important to you. 

3. Look at the words which you have left and rank them in order of importance by comparing them with each other. You can reflect on examples from your life, or use the exercise above to help you identify the most important ones. Identify your top three to five values. 


Our personal values are at the heart of what we believe and help to define who we are. In order to live a happy and fulfilled life, personal values need to be aligned in all areas of our life. If something does not feel right then checking how this fits with your values will help guide you in your response. Understanding what matters to you, what motivates you, and what goes against your core beliefs, will guide you when making decisions and help you be true to what is important to you. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog

My name is Diane Benson and I support busy professionals to be more effective, reduce stress and achieve a healthy balance in life. Providing clarity and focus for a more fulfilling personal and professional life.

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