What are your Values?

By Michelle Litwer, Psy.D. | Postdoctoral Fellow


You may have been asked the question, “What are your values?”, and it may have been difficult to answer that. Let’s take a step back and talk about what they really are and how identifying values may be useful in your life. Although there are COUNTLESS definitions, here are some of the key elements to think about when discussing values:

-Activities that give our lives meaning.

-Values are like a compass–they help us make choices based on the directions in which we want our lives to go.

-Things that are the most important to you in your life.

-Values vary from individual to individual. 

-Values are different from goals in that we never “accomplish” a value. 


Now- let’s try an activity. This may seem a bit strange to you, but it could help identify and highlight some of your important values in a creative way. So, let’s give it a shot-

Now what I’d like you to do is imagine that you have reached the end of your life and it is your funeral. It’s been a long and very meaningful life. Just take a moment to imagine feeling good about your life, feeling a sense of pride and appreciation for your life. Now, you are listening to eulogies offered by the guests at the funeral. What would you want these individuals to say about you? What you stood for in your life? What gave you meaning? What was fulfilling to you? Imagine that person actually saying the things you’d most like them to say. 

Hopefully you were able to come up with some ideas here. If not, here are some values that may stand out to you (this is not an exhaustive list):

Intimate relationships















Having fun

Building character


After you identify some of your top values, it is important to come up with achievable goals that go along with the value. For example, a value of mine is to be healthy. The value of being healthy helps set up my goal of being more physically fit by going to the gym. Now I have to really consider the small steps that will help me move towards my goal. Now that I researched gyms online and went to check them out, I can finally buy myself those new gym sneakers and then start going to the gym three days per week. Identifying the first step that you can take towards achieving goals and living life according to your values can make this process less overwhelming! Choosing who you want to be in the world can be truly empowering. Good luck on your journey! 

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