Find your values: they’ll keep you focused and make you feel alive

Snakes and ladders board game

In a time of change, new issues keep arising all the time. Just think of what has happened during only the past month.

If we are not careful, our life becomes a game of snakes and ladders: pushing us up a ‘ladder’ one moment then sliding down a ‘snake’ the next. The resulting emotional roller coaster is all very exciting, but it is also draining and it doesn’t get us to where we want to be. Social media doesn’t help.

The root cause is that:

when everything is a priority, nothing is.

The solution is to know our own priorities.

And defining our priorities at the deepest level means finding our values.

Identify Your Values Now:

To find your values, right now, follow these simple steps:

  1. Think back to a time when you felt completely absorbed in your work. You lost track of time, felt fully alive, in flow, operating at your fullest potential, doing what you are here to do. Identify between one and three occasions.
  2. For each occasion: ask yourself what values you were upholding in that moment. What values were you standing up for, taking action in support of? There might be more than one. Write them down.
    (If you find this difficult, think of times when you stood up against something. What did you stand against? What values are the opposite of that?)
  3. You have probably identified more than three values. Group, merge, and combine them until you have identified your three core values.

This simple exercise is enough to create a first draft of your values. If needed, the book of Inner Leadership contains more guidance and exercises to help you connect more deeply.

When you define your values in this way, three things happen:

  • You start to ignore the issues that don’t impact your values — this gets rid of the ‘snakes’
  • For issues you care about, your values show you clearly the outcomes you want to create — this gets you to the tops of the ‘ladders’ quickly
  • The more you live in line with your values, the more alive you will feel and the more energy you will have

The more effort you put into understanding your core values now, the more certain you will be of the results and the more benefit you will get from applying them later.

Do you easily get distracted by issues or do you remain focused? How much of your time do you feel fully alive, in flow, doing what you are here to do? Have you identified your core values?

Adapted from Inner Leadership: tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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Photo By Leonard J Matthews via

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