We all have different personal values.
We simply like different things. We respect different ideals.
Identifying what you value in life, and then living up to those values – and owning them – is extremely important. It will ensure you stay happy, motivated, and confident.
Yes, setting goals is important. So is being healthy. But honestly you’re doomed to live a stressful, depressing life if you don’t take the time to identify your values… and then OWN them without shame or fear of being judged.
3 Steps to Identify Your Personal Values
There are all types of values: high level values like seeking growth or facing your fears… and lower level, more specific values like physical exercise or growing a business.
We all have different values – both high level and low level. By taking the time to consider and evaluate your personal values, you become far more self-aware and put yourself in an amazing place to improve your quality of life.
So how do you identify your personal values?
Good question. I’ll share a quick activity you can perform in minutes to identify your top 5 most important personal values. Honestly, I thought I had a good idea about what my values were before I did this, but truthfully I only had a vague ballpark idea. This activity changed my life.
Step 1: List out 25 things that you think you value (think about your ideal self, as well as what you respect in other men)
Examples: Growth, confidence, self-reliance, competence, self-love, strength, decisiveness, courage, discipline, drive, mastery, achievement, congruence, adventure, comfort, competition, fitness, sexuality, intimacy, companionship, camaraderie, honesty, giving, creating, professionalism, mindfulness, acceptance, gratitude, respect, optimism etc…
Note: For a more exhaustive list, check out Steve Pavlina’s List of Values.
Step 2: Close your eyes and meditate on each of these values, one at a time. Picture yourself living up to it, whether this means an imaginary time in the future or a specific memory from your past when you did live up it.
Step 3: Pick the 5 values that produced the most ‘intense’ emotional response inside of you while you meditated on it. Which values made you feel the most motivated, happy, or excited? These are your most important personal values.
After doing this activity, I found that mine are growth, courage, creating, companionship, and mindfulness. I was surprised to see that a lot of the things I listed above that I thought I valued didn’t really mean so much to me when I meditated on moments where I embodied that value in my life.
(Note: Credit goes to Sean Russell of Menprovement.com for introducing me to this powerful technique)
Building the Habit of Living up to Your Values
Knowing your values is a HUGE first step. But it’s not enough. You must live them.
Without actually living them, you basically limit how happy, confident, and fulfilled you can possibly be. You limit your potential as a man. After doing the above exercise you probably realize how important and impactful your top 5 values have been on your life when you DID live up to them.
So how can you live up to your values on a consistent basis? How can you harness all of the potential energy and motivation that living up to your values can bring you?
Easy, you find habits and activities to practice on a daily (or weekly) basis that allow you to embody and live up to each value. I’ll use 3 of my values as an example:
- Growth: I constantly write new articles, film new videos, and do loads of other things to grow this website. I push myself to lift heavier and heavier weights in the gym.
- Courage: I’m training for my first amateur Muay Thai fight – and I feel courageous every time I spar.
- Mindfulness: I meditate every day as part of my morning routine.
Do the same for each of your values, and make sure you’re taking action to living up to them on a daily basis. Doing so will keep you confident, motivated, and excited to crush life.
Why You Must Own Your Values
To demonstrate why it’s so important to commit to actually implementing your values into your life and owning them, I’m going to tell you a recent story from my life…
I’m currently living in Madrid with my good friend and podcast co-host Dave Perrotta. He values the adventure of a long night out. We have another friend here. He values the seduction of dancing salsa and bachata.
Me? I more value the growth, courage, and mindfulness of pushing my limits in the gym or stepping into the Muay Thai ring.
When Dave’s at the nightclub, I can tell he’s in the zone. He’s in flow – like he’s living life on a higher plane. He bounces around the bar with a smile on his face, dancing and chatting people up with an intense energy that doesn’t slow down one bit until he’s in bed asleep. The same goes for our friend at a Salsa club. And for me when I’m training at the gym.
When we’re living up to our values, we’re happy, fulfilled, and full of energy.
The danger comes when you sacrifice your values, whether it’s because you’re not fully aware of them or because you’re trying to please someone else. For example, I enjoy going out, as well as learning how to dance salsa. But if there comes a point when I must decide between hitting up the salsa club and completely missing a training session or telling my buddies no, then I must listen to my values.
I must allow my values to guide my decision making – I must recognize that not everyone shares my values… and that I don’t necessarily share theirs either.
I must be completely comfortable telling them no. In fact, I must be so excited to OWN my values and live up to them that, at the end of the day, there’s no decision to be made. And the same goes for my friends. They should turn down a workout to pursue their values as well. This is the only way we will all remain fulfilled, happy, and motivated.
If we’re not aware of our values and our passions, we’ll end up living someone else’s life… and this will cripple us in the long run. I prefer to get in a hard day’s work, build my business, hit the gym, and then relax and prepare for tomorrow. And that’s perfectly ok. My buddy prefers to work during the day, take it easy, and then stay out all night partying. And that’s perfectly ok, too.
You should never feel guilt or shame for owning your values and living up to them, even if it means going your own way at times.
Sure, there’s something to be said about being flexible and trying new things. And I think those things are extremely important. But, at the end of the day, if you’re forced to choose between your values and something else… Always, and I mean always, choose your values.
Good article, David, straight to the point.
Personally, do you always give the same priority to living up to each of your values, or does it fluctuate?
Pleasantly surprised to hear you’re back in Madrid. Would definitely enjoy meeting you for a coffee next time I’m in town.
Thanks Borja! Since performing this technique I believe my top 3 values to be growth, courage, and mindfulness – and so I give priority to these.
And definitely let me know when you’re back in Madrid. Would love to grab a coffee.
Planning a weekend in town soon, looking forward to meeting you!
Have you participated in a muay thai bout yet?
Only sparring so far. Was supposed to do a fight in August, but my moving plans messed my schedule up a bit. Have you?
I’ve read quite a bit of your articles man, and they are extremely helpful. I love feeling confident and in control of my emotions and temptations. Thanks bro.
Thanks Elijah – I’m glad you found my site!
How long would you recommend to meditate on each value?
About 10-30 seconds, until you have a clear image in your head.