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 can become a game of snakes and ladders: pushing us up a ‘ladder’ one minute and down a ‘snake’ the next.

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

The root cause is that:

When everything is a priority, nothing is.

The solution is to know our own priorities and ignore the rest.

And the best way to define your priorities at the deepest level is to find your 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 to uphold? There might be more than one. Write them down.
    (If you find this difficult, you can 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 will be enough to create a first draft of your values. 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 will happen:

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

Does your life ever feel like a game of Snakes and Ladders? Do you easily get distracted or do you remain focused? How often 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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