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

Snakes and ladders board game

In a time of change, new distractions keep arising all the time. Think of what has happened during only the past month.

If we are not careful, life becomes a game of snakes and ladders: pushing us up a ‘ladder’ one minute, down a ‘snake’ the next.

The resulting emotional roller coaster can seem exciting — but it drains us and it doesn’t get us where we want to be.

When we engage with everything we get nowhere.

When everything is a priority, nothing is.

The solution is to know our own priorities and ignore the rest. And the best way to achieve that is to know your own values.


Identify Your Values Now:

To focus on what really matters to you find your values by following 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. 
    (You might identify between one and three occasions.)
  2. Ask yourself what values you were standing up for in that moment. What values were you displaying or taking action to uphold? There might be more than one. Write them down.
    (If you find this difficult, try thinking of times when you stood up against something. What were you standing 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 will create a first draft of your values. The deeper you dig, the more solid your findings will be and the better they will serve you. (If you want to connect more deeply, the book of Inner Leadership contains more guidance and exercises.)

When you define your values this way you will find that three things happen:

  1. You learn to ignore the issues that don’t impact your values — you avoid stepping on the ‘snakes’
  2. For the issues you do care about, your values show you clearly the outcomes you want to create — so you climb to the tops of the ‘ladders’ more quickly 
  3. The more you live in line with these values, the more alive you feel and the more energy you will have — because that is how we have defined your values: as whatever makes you feel most fully alive, in flow, fulfilling your maximum potential

We are living through a time of change so the distractions aren’t going to stop any time soon.

The better you define your values, the faster you will be able to jump the snakes and climb the ladders.

Do you find yourself getting distracted by things that don’t really matter? Would you like to spend more time feeling fully alive, operating to the maximum of your potential? Have you identified your core values?

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

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Photo By Leonard J Matthews via

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