4 Ways to Discover your Values in Life

values blog Zilvold coaching & Training
8 min read

Summary: Values play an important role in decision making and help you to live a happier, effective and engaged life, both at office and at home. There are good and bad values. This article explains what values are, how you can recognize them in your own life and how to live more in line with your own values.

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I have discovered that values play an important role in different aspects of my life such as relationships,  career, education and many of your actions and choices. Values help me to live a more happier, engaged, energetic, effective and loving life.

What are values?

Examples of values are honesty, Consistency, restraint, service, fidelity, challenge, grace, excellence, joy, support or determination.

A value is not a skill or a competence. That is something you can learn to do. Blind typing is not a value since I can measure it. My typing speed is increasing but it has no result on how I feel or how happy or energized I am by keeping things in line with blind typing. This is rather an action, which is different from a value.

Values are comparable to character strengths. These are strengths that describe the positive aspects of who you are. For more information read my article about the power of your Character Strengths.

Some character strengths are also a value. An example of one of my character strength is honesty. This is also a value. Character strengths are already present in you and you cannot learn them. You can develop them and become more conscious of them so you can use them in your life. Some Character strengths are value based. One of my Character strengths is teamwork and a value strongly connected to teamwork is respect.

Certain values have been in your life since you were young and others have entered in life because of positive or negative experiences.

Fairness is a value that I got early in life as my parents ensured that me and my sister would get everything equal. If she got to go to, for example a horse camp, I got to go to a computer camp. If I would get something, my sister would get something of equal value. Fairness is still an important value in my life.

Prudence is somewhat a newer value in my life. In my teens I would go bungee jumping and go off-piste skiing. Then (again in my teens), I fell from a steep slope and just missed some rocks. It is said by age you become wiser but also more prudent.

You can not have different values at work than at home or with your friends. You would be role playing and living a life not true to yourself. But it is possible that you express a value more in different situations. For example, you might have a boldness as a value. At home or with friends you might be a little bolder than at a meeting with (new) clients.

In his book “The Subtle Art of not giving a F*ck”, the author Mark Manson explains values very comprehensive. He differentiates good and bad values.

Bad Habits

Bad or unhealthy values are values which are negative and reflect poor standards of living. Often they are based on external events. Examples are: owning 3 Ferrari’s, making more money (than your parents), staying positive (think about that one), doing what you please or expecting everybody to do what you want.
Often these bad values are superstitious, outside of your control and socially destructive.

Good Values

Good and healthy values are achieved internally. Values like gratitude or generosity or focus can be experienced right now. The same counts for happiness. When I ask yourself “What makes me happier at this very moment?”, I experience happiness right away. Try it!
According to Manson, good values are reality-based, socially constructive and immediate & controllable.

Limiting Values

There are also values that work against you. I have written that one of my values is respect. My respect for the space and ideas of others is very high. That can sometimes be a limitation for me as an entrepreneur. I have to contact potential customers to persuade them to hire me. If I do not do that, then I cannot live according to my other values and certainly not according to my WHY, my purpose and my goals.

We all know our values. You just know that something feels good or wrong. This is closely related to your values. We’re just not aware of them or we haven’t discovered them yet.


Last week, a friend of mine, told me that he was looking for his values and he was wondering how to find them. Frank (not his real name), here are 4 ways:

1. Reflect

Everything you do in life, all your actions, your choices, everything you say and don’t say, is based on your values. So take some time to reflect, to journal about what you have done (or want to do) for the day. If you look carefully, you will discover some of the values you live by. Read my articles on reflection and journaling for some techniques on how to do this.

2. Draw your Lifeline

You can make a lifeline and identify those situations in your life when your where at your best. Chances are, that your where living in line with your values. Read this article on how to find out what you’re good at and what you need to do. It includes a free template to make your own lifeline.

3. Look for Opposites

One of the simplest ways to discover your values is to identify something that irritates you or what you dislike greatly in life. Your value is often the exact opposite. I don’t like people who brag about their successes and material possessions. Therefore my value (and character Strength) is humility.

4. The easy way

Still having a hard time discovering your values? Just enter “examples of values in your life” in your favorite online search engine. You’ll discover many articles with hundreds of values. Browse through these values and write down 10 values which resonate most to you. Those are the values that make you feel good and you will recognize yourself in them.

The next step

After you’ve discovered your values, it’s up to you to live your values. It’s your responsibility to ask yourself at each meeting, each new goal, challenge, opportunity or change how (and if) you will be able to use your values and how it will benefit your state of well-being.

“Self-improvement is about prioritizing better values and choosing better things to give a f#ck about.”

-Mark Manson

What are your values? Do they support you or do they hold you back? How do work with them at work or at home? Let me know in the comment field below. I and other readers of this article are looking forward to reading from you!

Need help?

Do you need help to find your values to reach your goals? I can help you through coaching. Contact me today for a FREE intake by clicking on the button below!

You can also follow a workshop that will help you to find your purpose in life. Together with Marjolein Diks & Marius van Vlijmen we will be exploring what your WHY is, how to make better choices in line with your WHY and how you can communicate this. Values  play an important role in all this. Stay tuned for more information soon!

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1 Comment

  1. Great post. Thanks for your valuable tips in finding the inner values and I am glad that I stumbled upon it so that I can live a happy life by improving my self. Keep posting such helpful articles.

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