Identifying Your Values Can Supercharge Your Quality of Life

How satisfied do you feel with your life? Do you feel fulfilled? Like you have a sense of purpose and meaning? Are you excited about the future?

Identifying your values can help you understand what is most important to your well-being. When you identify- and live in accordance with- your values, you choose to honor your unique needs and desires.

Let’s get into what you need to know. 

What Are Values?

Personal values refer to the individual beliefs you deem significant in the way you live your life. Ideally, your values shape your priorities and determine how you make daily decisions. In most circumstances- whether you realize it or not- how congruently you live per your values determines your quality of life.

If you engage in activities that align with your values, you tend to feel more fulfilled and happier. The opposite effect is also true. If you make choices that clash with your values, you may experience a sense of resentment, emptiness, or unhappiness. If you struggle with depression or anxiety, acting against your values may exacerbate those symptoms. 

While values tend to be relatively stable over time, they can change in response to various life circumstances. For example, a teenager may value fun and spontaneity. In early adulthood, as they focus more on their career, they may value professionalism and productivity. After having children, they may then value family and generosity. 

Why Identifying Your Values Is Important

Everyone has values, and none of them are better or worse than the other. However, our values are unique to us- they may differ from our spouse or friend or parent. When you know your values, you can create a life that honors and cultivates them.

When you know your values, you can answer meaningful questions like:

  • How should I spend my free time?
  • What job should I pursue?
  • How should I spend discretionary income? 
  • What hobbies are worth considering?
  • Should I take this opportunity? 

Steps For Identifying Your Values

We don’t choose our values. Our values are inherent to us, and that’s why understanding them is so essential to your growth. 

Step 1: Identify Times In Your Life You Felt Happiest

  • What were you doing?
  • Who, if anyone, were you with?
  • What other factors contributed to happiness?

Step 2: Identify Times You Felt Most Proud of Yourself

  • What made you feel proud?
  • Who, if anyone, shared that feeling with you?
  • What other factors contributed to feeling proud?

Step 3: When did you feel most fulfilled and satisfied?

  • What needs or desires felt fulfilled?
  • How and why did the experience give your life meaning?
  • What other factors contributed to these feelings? 

At this point, you should start recognizing various patterns. These patterns can help you narrow down your values. 

Step 4: Determine Your Top Values

Tip: Click here for a master list of values.

Identify every value that resonates with you. Don’t overthink your choices. There are no right or wrong answers. 

After selecting your choices, aim to group together similar values. For example, you might combine balance, health, and personal development with the label, well-being. 

Step 5: Prioritize Your Absolute Top Values

Identifying your values is one thing. Prioritizing them is entirely different. 

Many people live their lives trying to meet the values of other people. They do what’s “expected” of them- whether that’s meeting the expectations of loved ones, society, or internal pressure. 

As a result, they often feel discouraged and unhappy. Looking inward isn’t easy, but it’s a crucial step towards feeling more fulfilled in your life. The more you can hone in- and choose to honor your values- the more satisfied you will feel. 

  • Write down your top values, not in any particular order.
  • Study the first two values on your list. Ask yourself, If I could only satisfy one of these values, which would I choose? Visualize a situation where you would need to make that choice.
  • Keep working through the list- comparing each value to the next- until your list appears to be in the correct order.

Spend some time reflecting on what you do to honor your top values. Does it seem like enough? Are you focusing more on values that don’t actually matter to you?

Aim to revisit your values once a year. Values can evolve, and it’s essential that you honor your growing needs. 

Final Thoughts

Identifying your values can simplify decision-making and help you feel happier and healthier. However, it isn’t easy to live according to values- especially if they clash with what other people or society seems to expect from you.  

At Willow Counseling, we’re here to help support you in honoring your well-being. We understand that many barriers can block you from feeling happy and fulfilled

We are dedicated to helping you work through those barriers. Contact us today to learn more. 

Willow Counseling, PLLC – Nashville, TN

Willow Counseling, PLLC exists to provide quality trauma-informed mental health counseling to the Nashville community, recognizing the interconnectedness of our emotional, spiritual and physical selves. We work together to alleviate symptoms, learn better coping skills, relieve burdens, remove the pain of trauma, and so much more. However, our greatest desire is for you to know what it means to feel purpose and joy again and to recognize the strength and worth you have to offer the world.


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