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Blooming azaleas

When I wrote this section for my “Organizing for the Spirit” book, I made a list of 46 values:

  1. Adventure
  2. Affection
  3. Autonomy
  4. Challenge
  5. Change
  6. Community
  7. Competence
  8. Contribution
  9. Creativity
  10. Effectiveness
  11. Efficiency
  12. Environment
  13. Equality
  14. Excellence
  15. Excitement
  16. Expertise
  17. Fame
  18. Family
  19. Friendship
  20. Happiness
  21. Health
  22. Independence
  23. Integrity
  24. Job Tranquility
  25. Leadership
  26. Location
  27. Mature Love
  28. Meaningful Work
  29. Money
  30. Peace
  31. Personal Growth
  32. Pleasure
  33. Power and Authority
  34. Privacy
  35. Public Service
  36. Recognition
  37. Religion
  38. Reputation
  39. Security
  40. Self-Respect
  41. Serenity
  42. Spiritual Well-Being
  43. Stability
  44. Status
  45. Teamwork
  46. Wisdom

The directions were: From the following list of values, select the ten that are most important to you today. Once you have identified your top ten values, narrow them down to five. Of the remaining five, eliminate one at a time until you are left with only one. The one remaining is the strongest of all your current fundamental, core values.

This is not an easy exercise, I know. But three years later, I have to say that it is probably the most important one I do each year, and the results continue to fascinate me. There are no “right” answers, of course, but I’ve found that two things have stayed constant for me: My number one value is always Integrity, and there are always two or three new values that make it into my top 5 each year.

I see this as a good thing. To me, it means that while I’m always endeavoring to stay true to myself, my priorities change as my life changes. This summer, as I live in a new condo complex next to a wooded creek, I see that Environment and Community have risen to the top of the list, and have both become a major focus.

Certain values will always be central to you, but if you’re living an authentic life, your focus will change as different needs or possibilities appear. What’s essential is to be conscious of your current values, so that what you do reflects who you are at this moment in time.

What do you value today?

3 Responses to "My Values"

  1. Jamie

    August 12, 2007

    I’m definitely with you on the power of values work. How fascinating what you’ve noritced about yours. I’ll look forward to reading about Environment and Community. My top value is almost always Freedom. For me, that’s very connected to integrity too – free to be me!

  2. Swirly

    August 13, 2007

    I LOVED this exercise!! My number one value is still holding steady with HEALTH. Ever since I did this exercise the top values have stayed with me – great reminders of what I need to focus on when I have a challenges or choice in front of me.

  3. Tina Clark

    August 13, 2007

    My top value is certainly spiritual well-being. If I keep myself centered and aware in myself, I remember that I am connected to everyone and everything. My spiritual well-being reminds me to take those deep breaths before addressing the 3 year old having a melt down. Oh, the drama! It reminds me to kiss the little one who wakes up crying to be fed at three in the morning. I’m not losing sleep! My spiritual well-being reminds me that by nourishing these little people, I am also nourishing the world because they are the future. They will go on to nourish themselves and the world around them. And I am sure that my values will change with myself and my children but this is my core value.

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