Valuing your values

Photos: Getty Images
Photos: Getty Images
Values are the ideals we hold deeply. Do your values identify who you really are?

Once a month since February, we’ve taken a look at various aspects of creating a strong personal foundation.

Building a strong foundation gives you a good solid base to build a life you’re happy to be living. It doesn’t mean that your life will be hassle-free and full of fluffy kittens and unicorns with not a worry in the world. I’d need a magic wand to arrange that.

If you’ve read any of my previous columns, you’ll most likely have picked up on a bit of a favourite theme of mine — knowing your values and then orienting your life around them. I believe this aspect of building a strong personal foundation is important. If you don’t know your values, then you don’t know yourself. If you don’t know yourself, how can you build a life best suited to you? To recap: values are the ideals that are deeply and personally important to you. Your values express who you naturally are. They influence almost everything you think, do and feel. They are what you "value", and what gives you purpose. Most people have five to seven core values that identify who they really are.

Each person’s values are unique to that person, even if two people happen to pick the same word, such as integrity, each person will have their unique understanding of it and they will demonstrate it differently in their daily actions. Elvis Presley supposedly said "Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave ’em over everything you do".

We often don’t even notice them; they are just a part of us that helps us sense that perhaps it’s better to do one thing instead of another, or help us notice that a particular situation or  being around a particular person feels better than another. To help clarify your values, visit, click on the blog tab and search for values. You’ll find two articles there to help you.

Knowing your values is one thing, but to really get the most from them, consider building your life around them. You have many options for things to base your life around. You could base it on  what you want,  what you need,  what you think others will be impressed by. None of these will bring you the sense of fulfilment and satisfaction that living by your core values does.


What roles do you have in life? Partner, parent, colleague, team member, leader ... ?

What are your pastimes or hobbies?

Are your values reflected in what you say and do?In your different roles?   In your and pastimes and hobbies?  In your current goals and aspirations? In your relationships — personal and professional?

If your responses are more "no" and "maybe" than "yes", think about how can you express your values more clearly.

What do you need to change in order to express them more clearly? Do you need any support for this? Who could help you?

As Polonius advised his son: "To thine own self be true." (Hamlet)

- Jan Aitken is a Dunedin-based life coach.

• For more go to—aitken

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