Discovering Your Personal Values: Live a More Authentic Life

As I look back on my own journey, I can attest that uncovering my personal values wasn’t just like flipping a switch. It was more like nurturing a garden. Growing up, I often found myself trying to adapt to the expectations of others, striving for accolades and validations that seemed vital at the time. However, it wasn’t until my late twenties that I truly began to grasp what mattered most to me.

Living in alignment with my values has been like an internal compass. Whether it’s been choosing jobs that allow for work-life balance, engaging in community service, or simply opting to spend a quiet Saturday night with loved ones, these values have been the driving force behind my decisions. It’s made life choices clearer and more meaningful. In the maze of life’s challenges, having these touchstones has been a source of comfort and direction, keeping me more grounded and feeling substantially less lost.

Identifying Your Values

Identifying your values is the first step towards living a more authentic life. It’s important to understand what values are and how they influence our actions, decisions, and behaviors. Values are beliefs that guide us in our everyday lives, helping us make decisions and prioritize what is important to us. They can be internal or external factors that influence how we live our lives.

Values can be divided into three categories: intrinsic, extrinsic, and transcendent.

Intrinsic values are those that relate to our internal sense of self, such as integrity, honesty, kindness, and compassion. These values are often associated with personal growth and fulfillment.

Extrinsic values, on the other hand, are those that are influenced by external factors such as our social environment or cultural norms. Examples of extrinsic values include popularity, wealth, and status.

Finally, transcendent values are those that relate to our spirituality or self-actualization. These values often involve a sense of purpose, meaning, or connection to something greater than ourselves.

To determine which type of value applies to you most often, it’s important to ask yourself some key questions.

  • What do you want out of life?
  • What brings you happiness?
  • How do you want others to perceive you?

By reflecting on these questions, you can begin to identify which values are most important to you and how they influence your actions and decisions.

For example, if you believe that honesty and integrity are important values, you may prioritize being truthful in your personal and professional relationships.

If you value self-actualization, you may pursue activities that help you grow and develop as a person, such as learning a new skill or volunteering for a cause you care about. Understanding your values can also help you identify areas of your life where you may need to make changes to align with your personal beliefs and goals.

List of Values

Here is a list of personal values that you may consider when defining your own values:

  1. Honesty
  2. Integrity
  3. Respect
  4. Compassion
  5. Responsibility
  6. Gratitude
  7. Empathy
  8. Perseverance
  9. Courage
  10. Kindness
  11. Authenticity
  12. Trustworthiness
  13. Creativity
  14. Faith
  15. Freedom
  16. Loyalty
  17. Equality
  18. Humility
  19. Open-mindedness
  20. Self-discipline
  21. Self-improvement
  22. Self-respect
  23. Family
  24. Friendship
  25. Love
  26. Service
  27. Spirituality
  28. Sustainability
  29. Adventure
  30. Learning
  31. Excellence
  32. Health
  33. Independence
  34. Justice
  35. Peace
  36. Wisdom
  37. Fun
  38. Diversity
  39. Innovation
  40. Optimism

Remember that this is just a starting point and your personal values may include others that are not on this list. Take your time to reflect on what truly matters to you and what you want to prioritize in your life.

Exploring Your Values

Values are an integral part of our identity and what we believe in. They shape our thoughts, actions, and decision-making processes, and help us navigate our way through life. While values can be influenced by external factors like family, friends, and community, it’s important to distinguish which values truly resonate with us as individuals.

It’s not always easy to identify our own personal values, especially when we’re bombarded with conflicting messages from the media, society, and those around us. So how do we know if a particular value is really ours, or if it’s just something we’ve been conditioned to believe?

One way to determine if a value is truly yours is to examine how it makes you feel. Do you feel a sense of fulfillment and alignment with your beliefs when you prioritize this value in your life? Or do you feel conflicted, unhappy, or resentful when you act in a way that goes against this value?

Another way to identify your personal values is to reflect on your life experiences and what has been important to you throughout your journey. What moments in your life have brought you the most joy, fulfillment, and meaning? What values were present in those moments?

It’s also important to remember that personal values can evolve and change over time as we grow and learn more about ourselves and the world around us. What may have been important to us in our younger years may not be as relevant or meaningful to us now.

Creating a Value System

to lead fulfilling lives, it’s important that we live in alignment with our personal values. When our actions and decisions are guided by our values, we feel a sense of purpose and direction in our lives. However, when we act in ways that go against our values, it can lead to feelings of inner conflict, frustration, and even depression.

It’s important to note that our values can change over time as our priorities and circumstances evolve. For example, someone who values adventure and exploration in their 20s may prioritize stability and security in their 30s and 40s. Or, someone who values independence and self-sufficiency may prioritize community and collaboration as they get older.

Identifying our personal values is a crucial step toward living a fulfilling life. One way to identify our values is to reflect on what matters most to us and what brings us the most joy and fulfillment. It’s also helpful to examine the times when we’ve felt the most fulfilled and satisfied in our lives and what values were present in those moments.

Once we’ve identified our personal values, it’s important to make conscious decisions that align with them. This means being mindful of our actions and decisions and considering how they align with our values. For example, if one of our top values is “honesty,” we may choose to be transparent in our communication with others, even if it’s uncomfortable or difficult.

Applying Your Values

Living in alignment with our personal values isn’t always easy, but it’s crucial for leading a fulfilling life. Once we’ve identified our values, the next step is to apply them in our daily lives. Here are some practical tips for applying our values in our lives:

Set goals that align with your values: Goals are important for giving direction and purpose to our lives. When setting goals, make sure they align with your values. For example, if one of your values is “I want to be healthy,” then setting a goal to exercise regularly or eat healthy foods would align with this value.

Prioritize your values: It’s important to prioritize our values so that we can make decisions that align with what’s most important to us. When faced with a decision, ask yourself which option aligns with your values. For example, if one of your values is “family,” then choosing to spend time with family over working overtime would align with this value.

Communicate your values: Communicating our values to others can help us build stronger relationships and create a sense of shared understanding. Let others know what values are important to you and how they guide your decisions and actions.

Practice self-reflection: Regularly taking time to reflect on our actions and decisions can help us stay aligned with our values. Ask yourself if your actions and decisions are aligned with your values and if not, what changes you can make.

Hold yourself accountable: Holding ourselves accountable for living in alignment with our values is important. When we fall short of our values, it’s important to take responsibility and make changes to get back on track.

Living an Authentic Life

Living an authentic life means being true to yourself and living in alignment with your personal values and beliefs. When we live authentically, we experience a sense of fulfillment, purpose, and joy in our lives. Here are some tips for living an authentic life:

Identify your values: As we’ve discussed earlier, identifying our values is crucial for living in alignment with our personal beliefs. Take the time to reflect on what matters most to you and what brings you the most joy and fulfillment.

Be honest with yourself: Honesty is key to living an authentic life. Be honest with yourself about your feelings, beliefs, and desires. This means being true to your own thoughts and feelings, even if they go against the expectations of others.

Take risks: Living an authentic life often requires taking risks and stepping outside of our comfort zones. This may mean making a career change, ending a toxic relationship, or pursuing a new hobby or passion. Taking risks can be scary, but it can also be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling.

Practice self-care: Taking care of ourselves is essential for living an authentic life. This means prioritizing our physical, emotional, and mental health. Practice self-care activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as exercise, meditation, or spending time in nature.

Surround yourself with supportive people: Surrounding ourselves with people who support and encourage us is important for living an authentic life. Seek out friends and family members who share your values and beliefs and who will support you in your journey towards authenticity.

Benefits of Defining Your Values

Defining your values is an important step towards gaining clarity and direction in life. When we know what’s most important to us, it becomes easier to make choices that align with our personal beliefs and goals. This can lead to a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment in life.

In addition to providing direction and purpose, defining our values can also increase our self-awareness. By taking the time to reflect on our values, we gain a deeper understanding of who we are as individuals. This increased self-awareness can boost our self-esteem and confidence, as we become more secure in our own identity and beliefs.

Defining our values is not just about creating a list of abstract concepts that we believe in. It’s about discovering who we really are at the core of our being. Our values are a reflection of our true selves and our deepest desires and aspirations. By defining our values, we gain a clearer understanding of our own identity and purpose in life.

Moreover, defining our values can help us make healthier choices for ourselves. When we know what’s most important to us, we can make choices that support our physical, emotional, and mental well-being. For example, if one of our values is “health,” we may choose to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly to support this value.

Challenges of Defining Your Values

Defining your values can be a challenging process that may require you to confront fears, doubts, and difficult decisions. Here are some common challenges that you may face when defining your values:

Overcoming fear and self-doubt: Defining your values may require you to confront your fears and self-doubt. For example, you may feel afraid of being judged by others or of making the wrong decision. You may also doubt your own abilities to make important life choices. To overcome these challenges, it’s important to practice self-compassion and remind yourself that it’s okay to make mistakes. Remember that defining your values is a process, and it’s okay to take your time and make adjustments as needed.

Accepting criticism from others: When we define our values, we may encounter criticism or disapproval from others who do not share the same values as us. This can be difficult to navigate, especially if the criticism comes from people we care about or respect. To handle criticism, it’s important to stay true to your own beliefs and values while also being open to feedback from others. Try to understand where the criticism is coming from and whether there may be any valid points to consider. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what feels right and authentic for yourself.

Making difficult decisions: Defining your values may require you to make difficult decisions that may impact your life in significant ways. For example, you may need to end a toxic relationship or make a career change that aligns with your values. Making these decisions can be stressful and overwhelming. To make the process easier, it can be helpful to break down the decision into smaller steps and seek support from friends, family, or a professional counselor if needed.

In the end, defining your values can be a challenging process that requires courage, self-awareness, and self-compassion. By overcoming fear and self-doubt, accepting criticism from others, and making difficult decisions, you can gain clarity and direction in your life and live more authentically. Remember that the process of defining your values is unique to you and it’s okay to take your time and make adjustments as needed.


Now that you’ve read this article, you should have a better understanding of what personal values are and how they can help you live a more authentic life.

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