Deciding Your Values

Our values are our basic principles or standards, our judgement about what is important to us. When things in our lives are in congruence with our values, it feels right. Values give us our moral compass, our ethics, and guide our decision making. Values are very personal. What is right to you, may be someone else’s wrong. And you can’t change other people’s values! They are what they are. It is crucial to have people in your life who have similar values to yourself, if not, things will always feel a little (or a lot) off.

Determining your values is again a very reflective process. This is how I do it with my clients:

  • 1

    Print off values cards

    Download and print off the list of values below and cut them along the lines to give you a set of values cards.

  • 2

    Sort through - first pass

    Sort through the values cards, discarding those that don’t hold any meaning for you and keeping the ones that do.

  • 3

    Group values

    Sort the “keep” pile into clusters of cards that mean something similar to you. For example, you might group KNOWLEDGE, WISDOM and LEARNING together if they mean the same thing to you.

  • 4

    Sort clusters

    Once you have your clusters, sort through each pile and decide the card that is the best fit to describe that cluster. It is quite ok if you decide that you have two words, or even decide that your cluster needs to divide into two clusters.

  • 5


    Discard all cards you are not keeping as representing the cluster.

  • 6

    Your Values

    You should now have around 5-10 cards left.

  • 7

    Start ranking

    Now start with one card and place it in front of you. Take another card and compare them. Which is most important? Place the most important card at the top and the other underneath.

  • 8

    Continue ranking

    Continue to compare cards from your hand with the list, determining for each value where it sits in your list of importance.

  • 9

    Finalising top 5-7

    When you have your final list, ranked in order of importance, you keep the top 5-7 and discard the rest. The cards you have kept represent your values.

  • 10


    It is important to reflect on what your values mean – my definition of PROFESSIONALISM is likely to be very different to yours. If you want to communicate your values to others, it is crucial to explain what they mean to you.