Why It’s Important to Understand Your Values

What are your values? Have you ever taken the time to figure out what values are most meaningful to you at this point in your life? Many of us have a vague idea of what matters to us and the beliefs that guide our decisions. Taking some time to reflect on what is important to you and why can help you get a firmer grasp on what your values actually are. 

Why is it important to know what you value? 

Reflecting on what is important to you is a powerful way to get to know yourself better. While there are thousands of possible values out there, it’s usually best to focus on a small number of values personally. It’s tricky to juggle too many things at once, and values are no different. Most people have between 5-10 core values that they try to embody in their lives. 

Values are like guideposts in our lives. They help us stay on track, prioritize what matters, and make decisions that align with our beliefs and needs.

Here are 4 reasons why understanding your values is important: 

Understand yourself better

Figuring out what is important to you is a powerful way to get to know yourself better. When you take the time to consider your values, you can discover what resonates with you and what doesn’t. It may surprise you that there are still things that you can learn about yourself. After all, you’ve known yourself your whole life, and so it’s hard to find new information sometimes, especially when you’re not used to practicing self-reflection regularly. Exploring what values are meaningful to you can give you more insight into who you are as a person. 

Guide decision making

Making decisions can be hard, especially when influenced by social pressure. Understanding what your values are is like having a cheat code to decision making. It gives you a shortcut to decide if something aligns with your values or doesn’t. Just ask yourself, does this align with my value of X?

When you understand your values, you can make decisions confidently knowing that you have your own back. You’ve spent time thinking about your values, and now you can let them help you along the way. 

Set goals and make plans

Once you understand what your values are, you can use them to help set goals and make plans. For example, if you value nature, you could make plans to move somewhere with lots of access to nature. Alternatively, you could use this value of nature to help you decide if living in an urban area with fewer green spaces is right for you. Knowing what your values are helps you prioritize and look at the bigger picture when setting goals. 

Feel more balanced

When your actions line up with what you value, you may feel a sense of balance. Knowing what is important to you, why it’s important, and how you make that a part of your daily life can make you feel more at ease in the world. You know what matters most to you, and you don’t need to worry about anyone else. 

Can my values change?

Values don’t always stay the same, but they don’t change very often. That’s because it takes time and life experience to determine what matters to you and what you believe. You might find that you have different values at different phases of your life. You might value adventure as a young adult, and that value may shift as you age. For example, instead of craving adventure, you might find that you’re actually more of a homebody these days. It’s okay that the things that matter to you change. If we all stayed the same for our whole lives, life just wouldn’t be that interesting. 

As you experience more in life, you’ll get more information about what works and doesn’t work for you. It gets easier to live in alignment with your values when you aren’t worried about what other people think of you. Everyone has their own values and their own priorities. We all have reasons behind why we act the way we do. It’s okay that we make different choices, even from people who we love and are close to. Making a different choice from someone else doesn’t mean that one of you is wrong. It just means that different things work for different people. 

How often should I reassess my values?

As mentioned above, values tend to shift slowly over time. There can be times where a life experience or a situation dramatically changes your values. An example of this could be a major life change like becoming a parent or experiencing something traumatic. Values can change as you get older and you get more life experience, or as your priorities change. 

Usually, when you feel that your values have shifted, you can tell in a few ways. You might frequently feel dissatisfied after making decisions even if they seem like the right ones at the time. You might feel a sense of guilt or shame if your actions aren’t matching up with your beliefs. It can also be a kind of lightbulb moment – at some point you may just realize, “Hey, that isn’t so important to me anymore.” 

Our values tend to match the season of life we’re in. You don’t need to reassess your values all the time, or even every year. Start with checking in every 5 or so years and see if there are any big shifts in what matters to you most. 

What are some common values?

If you’re looking for more help deciding what your values are, looking at a list of values can help you narrow things down. Here are some possible values for you to consider: 

  1. Abundance
  2. Academics
  3. Acceptance
  4. Accountability
  5. Achievement
  6. Adventure
  7. Authenticity
  8. Belonging
  9. Career
  10. Caregiving
  11. Compassion
  12. Confidence
  13. Connection
  14. Contentment
  15. Courage
  16. Creativity
  17. Curiosity
  18. Diversity
  19. Ethics
  20. Family
  21. Freedom
  22. Friendship
  23. Fun
  24. Generosity
  25. Gratitude
  26. Growth
  27. Harmony
  28. Health
  29. Honesty
  30. Humor
  31. Integrity
  32. Justice
  33. Kindness
  34. Knowledge
  35. Leisure
  36. Love
  37. Loyalty
  38. Nature
  39. Optimism
  40. Order
  41. Patience
  42. Power
  43. Reciprocity
  44. Resourcefulness
  45. Respect
  46. Responsibility
  47. Safety
  48. Security
  49. Self-Respect
  50. Selflessness
  51. Service
  52. Simplicity
  53. Spirituality
  54. Travel
  55. Trust

If you’re looking for more support discovering your values, working with a therapist can help you process what is most important to you at this moment in your life. Get in touch with our office today to get started with therapy.