In everyday life we tend to use the term values rather loosely. Generally, we mean something that is of importance in some way. Often there is a moral or social norm that raises some values over the other in importance. But if we’re honest, there is a good chance we don’t really living our lives in accordance to these values. What we don’t realize is we have a different set of values, values we may not even be aware of, that cause internal conflict and get in the way of our success.

Such a casual approach to understanding our own personal values, however, results in conflicting priorities, actions and beliefs, all of which get in the way of your success. If you want to be a high achiever, you need to be working as effectively and efficiently as you call all the time. And while there are many tools, tips and tricks you can use the most fundamental is getting clear on what your personal core values are.  

What happens when your values are clear to you? The results can be astounding and build over time. They include:    

  1. Fast Decision Making: When you know what’s important to you, you know what action to take and what choices to make. No reason to agonize.
  2. Increasing Self-Confidence: When you know what you stand you no longer fear the judgement of others.
  3. Increasing Productivity: You are motivated more than ever to achieve your goals. Distractions go away because they aren’t aligned with your priorities.
  4. Reducing Conflict & Improving Relationships: Virtually all conflict is about competing values. When you understand your values, you know what you are fighting for. You can articulate that. You can also work to understand the other person’s values and then find common ground.
  5. Building Your Brand: Clear values are brand distinguishers. They become even more powerful when you are living those values and it is easy for everyone to see.

Bonus point:  When you know and live your values you create a virtuous cycle of reinforcement. It gets easier and easer for you to align and live with those values AND you start receiving feedback and encouragement from others about those values and the life you are living.

How to Get Clear on Your Values

When working with people to get clear on their values we start with simply listing what you think your values are right now. Make your list of about 10 values and the rank order them.

Once you have your list of values, write a definition of each. Take some time and make as detailed of a definition as you can about what you specifically mean by that value. This is not the time for a 5-word definition. Be as clear as you can without worrying about being perfect. Whether it is a couple sentences or a paragraph, this is just for you so that you are clear by what you mean.  

At this point you may be noticing that some of your values are the same or rather similar. See if you can consolidate them. Pick which word and which definition resonates with you the most and refine the definition. At this time you may also notice that some values aren’t really that important to you and you can drop them. Others might be more important than you thought. Drop the unimportant ones, rearrange the order so your top value, the value you would choose if two were competing against each other, is at the top.


Review your values each morning as a reminder for how you want to behave and choose during the day. In the evening, review your day and evaluate how you did. Did you make choices that conflict with your values? If so, why did you do that? Is there a more important value at play?

If you decide you don’t like your values, say you are choosing comfort over accomplishment, you can change them. You just have to start living in accordance with the new values. Over the course of month if you really live according to the new value it will become second nature to you.

Good luck!

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About the Author

Larry Boyer, CBE, ACC helps people and businesses prepare for the changing and evolving economy of the 21st Century. As a recognized leader in advanced analytics, finance & economics, future technologies and personal development. He speaks, writes and consults on these topics and their impacts from a high level bringing them down to a more personal level where you can take action. His book The Robot In the Next Cubicle: What You Need to Know to Adapt and Succeed in the Automation Age is available for preorder.