This Simple Exercise Can Help You Discover Your Values and Gain Clarity

Going through life without goals, purpose, or a vision can be like taking a road trip without having a destination in mind. Sure, your travel experience can be fun, but how do you know when you arrived or when it’s time to head back home?

In simple terms, your values are aspects or actions you deem of importance in life. Whether it’s your finances, family, or flexibility, understanding your values is essential to gaining clarity when it comes to your personal and professional life. They help guide your decision-making process when you’re feeling stuck.

If all this free time stuck at home has you questioning your values and journey in life, you’re not the only one. Below is a tried and true exercise to help you discover your values and gain clarity.

Work through a vales word bank.

If you haven’t used a word bank since you were in third grade, don’t feel bad, I hadn’t either. When I tried this exercise, I was shocked by its simplicity and effectiveness. Often, we stress ourselves out for no reason at all. We make problems bigger than they truly are, so it’s time to simplify them.

There are many digital and printable lists of values available online. I opted for this one I found on The Muse’s website. It’s easy to understand and complete. Although I recommend you take your time when working on it, it’ll probably take you under one hour to finish it.

When working through a values word bank, the idea is to read through every potential value and deem whether it’s important to you or not. Circle, underline or highlight the ones that are until you’ve gone through the entire list. Don’t worry about choosing too many, you’ll have time to narrow them down.

After you’ve gone through the list, narrow your list of values to only your top five or six. This can be more time consuming depending on how your values differentiate on the importance scale. Once you’ve narrowed down your list, write your reasoning for each value. This can be anything from your past trauma to your future goals. I found this step to be one of the most empowering, as I was able to identify why I cared so much about certain things while deeming others not as important.

While the exercise itself won’t take you too long, meditating on your results is crucial and can be more time-consuming. Once you have your list of values, ask yourself what they mean for you and your lifestyle. This might mean changes need to be made, and that’s always the scariest part.