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I find in the people that I coach and teach that the number one reason that many people are conflicted, unhappy and living without inner peace is that they are living a life outside of their values. It is difficult to live in accordance with your values if you first do not know what they are. Our lives are full of so many decisions that need to be made for practical reasons that we often prioritize in order of what is immediate just to get it done as opposed to looking down the road and putting a little more thought into “What can I do today that will bring my actions in line with my values?”

For example, If you have a family you may find yourself enrolling your children in all the after school activities that their friends are doing – shuffling them around to soccer practice, school performances, and instrument lessons while loosing sight of the fact that you don’t hold true the value of having competitive or over performing children. Your value may be that you have a strong family with thoughtful and considerate children but when is the last time you volunteered together anywhere? Or in your career you may find yourself stuck in a rut at work where your work seems repetitive and you don’t see any room for advancement. You find yourself checking the online sites for similar positions elsewhere, sending out resumes, and considering going back to school for your MBA. Then after analyzing your values you discover that you don’t value doing predictable work in an office. You value freedom, helping others and creativity. Only then will you start looking for opportunities and building skills in fields that will ultimately bring you more in alignment with who you are and more on a track for fulfillment.

Values are not always strengths though sometimes they are entwined. You use your strengths to live and give of your values. You can be very good at schoolwork but the value there might be a love of learning. You might be very creative but the value could be helping people. You might be a great painter but the value could be expressing yourself through creativity.

How to Determine Your Values

1. Run off the list of values below.
2. Get some colored pens/pencils and with one color take a quick pass of the list, marking a check next to each value that is sometimes important to you (up to 20).
3. In another color mark only the ones that are often important to you (up to 5). Remember some values might lead you or contribute to a higher value. Add any value to the list that you feel is relevant. To help determine your values, ask yourself what the value is or was when you: did the most exciting thing you ever did, feel your passion, what gets you up in the morning, what you want to be known for at age 95.
4. Mark in red the top five values that are always important to you – the things that absolutely define who you are (only 5). Tape these where you will see them everyday.

Acceptance
Achievement
Adaptability
Adventure
Affection
Affluence
Agility
Ambition
Appreciation
Authenticity
Balance
Beauty
Being the Best
Belonging
Bravery
Brilliance
Calmness
Candor
Care
Career
Challenge
Charity
Cheerfulness
Clear-mindedness
Cleverness
Closeness
Comfort
Commitment
Compassion
Confidence
Conformity
Consistency
Contentment
Control
Conviction
Courage
Creativity
Credibility
Curiosity
Decisiveness
Dependability
Determination
Devotion
Devoutness
Dignity
Diligence
Discipline
Diversity
Effectiveness
Elegance
Empathy
Energy
Enthusiasm
Enterprise
Excellence
Expertise
Faith
Fame
Family
Fearlessness
Fidelity
Financial Independence
Fitness
Flexibility
Flow
Focus
Forgiveness
Frankness
Freedom
Friends
Gratitude
Growth
Happiness
Hard Work
Health
Helpfulness
Honesty
Honor
Hopefulness
Humor
Hygiene
Impact
Inner Harmony
Innovation
Ingenuity
Insightfulness
Integrity
Intelligence
Kindness
Knowledge
Leadership
Learning
Love
Make a Difference
Modesty
Nurturing
Openness
Organization
Passion
Peace
Perseverance
Playfulness
Poise
Polish
Power
Prosperity
Quality
Resolve
Respect
Self-Actualization
Self-Control
Selflessness
Sensitivity
Serenity
Service
Sexuality
Simplicity
Solitude
Spirituality
Stability
Strength
Structure
Success
Sympathy
Teamwork
Temperance
Thankfulness
Thoroughness
Timeliness
Trust
Unity
Valor
Vigor
Virtue
Vision
Willpower
Wisdom
Wit
Youthfulness
Zeal

If your life seems out of alignment ask yourself what you are doing that is not in alignment with your values. Then ask yourself what you could be exploring to bring you closer to your values. Start now!

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Mary Lee Gannon is an executive coach as well as a cultural turnaround and leadership expert who went from being a stay-at-home mother with four children to a difficult marriage, divorce, homelessness, and welfare to CEO. Her book “Starting Over – 25 Rules When You’ve Bottomed Out” is available on Amazon.com and details how she went from an earning capacity of $27,000 annually to president and CEO within just a few years. Visit her Web site at www.StartingOverNow.com.

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