Identifying Your True Values 

Your values are the behavior and activities to which you are naturally drawn. Values are who you really are. This includes things like:

  • Creating
  • Contributing
  • Adventure
  • Beauty
  • Teaching
  • Spirituality

The purpose of this exercise is to help you to identify what your true values are so that they can be expressed as you shape your goals. In addition, your values give us ideas for developing or cementing an alter ego that can become a part of you as you transition.

What Are True Values?

You have a set of personal values that motivate you towards a certain mission in life. Your values, are what you believe are important, in the way you live. Values can range from family traditions, to more everyday values in work situations such as punctuality and reliability, and then there are personal values that are psychological such as self-respect, kindness towards others and having a life purpose.  Everyone has their own unique personal values that guide them.

For instance, someone whose value is to make a difference in people’s lives might be drawn to becoming a counselor or teacher. Another person who might have values about children’s rights develops a career of social work or social justice. On the other hand, if a person has strong family values, but works a 60-hour work week it is likely he or she will feel a lot of pressure and stress.

If your life focus is different than your core values you will feel dissatisfied and frustrated. It’s important to ensure that your values determine your priorities. When you do things that aligned with your personal values you’re feeling content and satisfied. Life goes much more smoothly when you identify your top values. When you become familiar with your personal values you can use them to make decisions about your life and lifestyle. In order to honor your True Values, you may have to substantially alter and enhance your life to get the room you need to transition into expressing these sides of you. 

Many of us spend our lives trying (consciously or not) to honor these True Values. We find ourselves getting disturbed or frustrated, bored or complacent, wishing and hoping to have a better life. This better life is, among other things, based on your True Values.


Please read these instructions twice, and read carefully to let the subtleties show themselves.

STEP 1: Select 10 Values.

Read the list of values on the next page and write down approximately 10 that resonate as a value for you. You are looking for a value, not a want, a should, a fantasy, or a wish. A value is a must for you to be yourself. Part of the first step is to tell the truth about what you actually value or love to do with your time. This may be the first time you have ever admitted this to yourself. Some of these you will know innately. Others require some straight looking. Please be willing to “try on” words you might normally skip over. These may be hidden values; if so, you may have one or more of the following reactions:

  • “No, no, no; that would be too much fun.”
  • “That’s a silly value; I should have a better one."
  • “If that were true, I’d have to change my life a lot.”
  • You flush, blush, or shake when reading the word.

Step 2: Narrow your values to four.

We all value a little of everything listed on the next page. But we want you to pick the four True Values from the ones you wrote down. You may wish to compare each of your 10 values with each of the oth­ers and ask yourself, “Now, do I really prefer X or Y? Which ones aren’t that intriguing to me any more? Which ones, when honored, make the other ones not as exciting?” Continue to the bottom of the page and answer the questions there.

What Are Your Top Four Values?

1. ____________   2. ____________  3. ___________   4. ___________

Which, of all the values listed, do you spend more time on and why? 


Are your goals aligned with your top values? If not, why?


What can you change in your life to align more with your personal values?


 For coaching, contact or call 650-440-5534


Robin S. Rosenberg, Ph.D., ABPP
Clinical Psychologist

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  • Menlo Park, California

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