8 Questions to help you determine your core values
May 11, 2020
Values are like the flow of a river. If you're doing things in alignment with your values, you naturally want to do more of them. If you feel like someone is aligned with YOUR values, you're more likely to trust them, to work with them, and to support them.
Once you know your values, anything that you associate to working WITH your values, you'll naturally want to do. It's a deeply fulfilling, inherent desire, as opposed to the rush of ego-based desires.
You'll hear it in a lot of marketing talk as "finding your purpose" or "discover your ikigai", but the core really is just whether you're in alignment with your values. When you are, things feel good. When you're not, things feel icky and tiring.
Motivation based on values is generally considered the strongest and longest-lasting form of motivation.
This is the core idea behind Simon Sinek's "Find your why", the concept behind internal vs external motivation in Daniel Pink's "Drive", the idea behind Tony Robbin's Personal Power, and the recent popular trend of "passion and purpose" movements.
So how do you determine your values?
I've done probably a half dozen type of exercises like this, but have found the Demartini Value Determination Process to be the most effective. Basically, all you need to do is answer these 8 questions, and you'll know what your secret sauce is.
So let's try it out:
- Look around your home/room, what is it filled with? Literally, look around your home and see what you have on the shelves, especially the most prominent shelves. Are they books? Family photos? Sports trophies? Souvenirs from travel? Whatever you see is a big sign for what you value. Write down the 3 things that fill your space most: _________________
- How do you spend your time? Everybody says that they don't have time, but the truth is we always make time for things that are important to us, and run out of time for things that aren't. We always find time for things we REALLY want to do. What is it? Reading? Writing? Cooking? Speaking? Working? Ever notice how many times we say "I really gotta ______ more", but yet never make time for it? What's the top 3 things you always find time to do? ______________
- Where do you get your energy? A lot of people complain about how they're tired, but there are some things that energize you when other things don't. Some people may find this hard to answer because they might think "Well… coffee", but look deeper-- do you get energy from talking to people? From researching cool stuff? Where's it from? List 3: ___________
- How do you spend MONEY? This might seem obvious but is actually quite enlightening once you start digging. I recently discovered that I buy a lot of random stuff relating to traveling, even when I have no plans to travel. They end up sitting in a box somewhere until "one day" I'll need it. What does that tell you about my values? For some, maybe it's meals with friends, others it's books. Anyway, list 3 ways you spend your money: ________
- Where do you have the most ORDER and ORGANIZATION? That's to say, what do you keep track of the most? For some, the answer is EVERYTHING, but if you pay closer attention what that might reflect is they organize everything in terms of TIME. That's a big one. So in which three ways are you most organized? _____________
- Where are you most reliable, disciplined, and focused? It always shocks people when I say I don't believe anyone is lazy, they're just not in line with their values. I've met people who spend 12 hours a day in bed, but then they're absolute MASTERS at some video game so complicated it would confused the heck out of your average middle-aged doctor. So what are you most reliable, disciplined, or focused on? _______
- What are your most dominant thoughts? Not the negative thoughts or the "shoulds" that usually clutter our mind, but what thoughts do you have about your life? I often come up with a lot of random epiphanies about teaching. It's so dominating in my mind that I have several note folders just bursting with ideas. Anything I hear, I'll somehow end up relating it to my work. This is what we become. What are your three most dominant thoughts?
- What do you visualize and realize most often? Not just in terms of fantasies, but what do you visualize yourself having or doing in the future? When you think about where you're going to be, is it focused on things like travel? Who you'll spend time with? What you'll be doing? Even if your visualizations are about money, what do you visualize yourself spending money on? Name 3 things:_________
- What do you talk about to other people? What gets you MOST EXCITED to talk about? This is a big one-- have you ever had a conversation where you feel like you're coming alive in your speech? Your voice sounds different-- bigger, more passionate, your energy fills the space, your hand gestures get excited. Or maybe you just get more passionate about the topic. What do you ASK people about? When someone mentions something, what makes your ears prick up? Name 3 things:__________
- What inspires you? If it's people, what is it that they're doing that inspire you? Name 3: _______
- What are the most consistent long-term goals that you've set? These are things that, since you were a kid, you might have always had them on your list. Maybe it's having a family, or starting a business, or becoming a chef. What has always been on there? Name 3:_________
- What do you love to learn and read about the most? What are the three most common topics you love that you can focus on without distraction? Name 3:________
Once you've finished this list, you'll probably notice that you've repeated a few answers at least a few times. This might be "Spending time with my friends", "Buying meals with my family", and "I'm most disciplined about following up on my social engagements". You'll notice that the values start to form a hierarchy.