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How to find your dream part 3: Defining your personal values

Dream Development  /   /  By Manuel Gruber

So you reflected on your strengths and passions. Now there’s one important thing left to think about, before we talk about techniques that help you in actively pursuing your dreams: Personal Values.

By definition, values are important and lasting beliefs or ideals about what is good or bad and desirable or undesirable. They have major influence on your behavior and attitude and serve as broad guidelines in any given situation. In other words, they are like magnets in your moral compass that will guide you in making decisions, especially in situations where the right thing to do isn’t the obvious.

Having a strong set of personal values means standing for something and staying true to yourself. It will offer you an answer whenever you ask yourself: „Should I do that?“. And, most importantly, it will help you define who you are and who you want to be.

Finding your personal set of values

Defining a set of values is a tough job. After looking through numerous methods, I came up with the four-step process below.

Step 1: Brainstorm

Usually, you already have a set of values that you carry with you. They can be influenced by your parents, people you surround yourself with or topics that are important to you, just to name a few.

To get started, just brainstorm values that come to your mind when you think about your personal life. Write them down. Then put the list aside. That’s your starting point.

Step 2: Expand your list by choosing from a pre-selected list of values

To extend that list, simply go through the list of values below or find any other list of values by simply searching for it on the internet. Now take yourself some time and circle the ones your gut says fits you.

  • Achievement
  • Adventure
  • Authority
  • Autonomy
  • Balance
  • Beauty
  • Boldness
  • Compassion
  • Challenge
  • Citizenship
  • Committment
  • Community
  • Competency
  • Contribution
  • Creativity
  • Curiosity
  • Determination
  • Economic security
  • Ethical Behaviour
  • Fairness
  • Faith
  • Fame
  • Friendships
  • Fun
  • Growth
  • Happiness
  • Help other people
  • Honesty
  • Humor
  • Influence
  • Inner Harmony
  • Justice
  • Kindness
  • Knowledge
  • Leadership
  • Learning
  • Love
  • Loyalty
  • Meaningful Work
  • Nature
  • Openness
  • Optimism
  • Peace
  • Pleasure
  • Poise
  • Popularity
  • Recognition
  • Religion
  • Reputation
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Security
  • Self-Respect
  • Service
  • Sincerity
  • Spirituality
  • Stability
  • Success
  • Status
  • Trustworthiness
  • Wealth
  • Wisdom

Now you have a selection of values in front of you. To complete the process, you may go through one last step: Finding external values.

Step 3: Expand your list by finding values externally

Defining your values should not only be based upon who you are, but also on who you want to be. A great method to find additional values is to think about people you look up to. Which values do you see in their actions? Why are they desireable? Take the ones that you find most important and write them down.

Step 4: Select your most important values

At the end, you’ll have a list with numerous values. Now take some time and think about your most important ones. Three is a good number, it should definately be no more than five in the end, as they should stick in your brain and subconcious mind. As soon as you selected them, write them down. Pin them onto the wall in front of your desk. Tattoo them onto your wrist. Whatever you do, be sure to think about them whenever you need to make a decision.

Congratulations! In addition to your strengths and passions, you now also know which values are important to you and should be part of your life. In the next articles, we will cover some techniques that will help you work out your dreams and visions in more detail. Stay tuned and most importantly:


P.S.: Feel free to share feedback and questions in the comments.

Special thanks: DreamAcademia, Harald Katzenschläger, Wolfgang Stricker

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