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Finding your values: A counter-intuitive approach

Have you ever experienced the terrifying moment of facing a page full of words that are supposed to reflect different values, and being asked to choose the five that best describe you?

Chances are that some of the values you choose reflect who you would like to see reflected in the mirror, but not necessarily who you are right now. It’s human. We all do it.

A value is not a value until it costs you money, a friendship or something that you consider valuable in your life. And this kind of honesty and self-awareness cannot be achieved in a five-minute exercise.

Next time you come across one of these lists ask yourself “Which values do I care about least? The ones that are nice to have but don’t move me?” Choose the five least attractive, the ones you will never move a hand to achieve, the ones you dislike. Once you’ve chosen them, imagine people who embody these values. Describe this kind of person, and when you’ve done that for a little while think about the opposite kind of person.

Ask yourself what you have sacrified in your life to protect and honour these values . You are probably a version of it in the making. And this is perfectly fine.

Values are not a thought or an idea: they’re active stories in our lives.

Sometimes we need to be guided by the best version of ourselves, but not when we’re digging into our values, because what we require then is honesty.

A values exercise is just a reality check about the kind of life we’re actively building.



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