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How to Avoid 4 Common Missteps In Clarifying Your Values


Ways to Discover and Clarify Your Personal Values

"Personal value is the kind of value we receive from being active instead of passive, creative instead of consumptive."


Discovering and clarifying your personal values is an essential process that can help you gain a deeper understanding of who you are and what is truly important to you. Personal values are the principles, beliefs, and standards that guide your behavior and decision-making. They are the things that matter most to you and reflect what you stand for in life.

Identifying and clarifying your personal values can help you live a more authentic and fulfilling life. It allows you to align your actions and decisions with what truly matters to you, leading to a greater sense of purpose and meaning. When you have a clear understanding of your personal values, you can make choices that align with them, leading to greater satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment.

However, discovering and clarifying your personal values can be a challenging process. It requires self-reflection, introspection, and honesty. You may need to challenge your assumptions and beliefs, and explore what is truly important to you. It's important to remember that personal values are not set in stone and can evolve over time as you grow and change as a person.

There are several ways to discover and clarify your personal values, including self-reflection, asking for feedback from others, and observing how you spend your time and energy. It can also be helpful to explore your cultural and societal values and examine how they align with your personal values.

Overall, discovering and clarifying your personal values is an ongoing process that requires dedication and commitment. However, the rewards of living a more authentic and fulfilling life are well worth the effort.

What Are Personal Values?

Personal values are the fundamental beliefs and principles that guide an individual's behavior and decision-making. They are the core beliefs that people hold about what is right and wrong, important and unimportant, and what they should strive for in life. Personal values are not handed down from authority figures or institutions but are determined by an individual's experiences, upbringing, and cultural background.

Personal values can be broadly categorized into different domains, such as moral values, social values, spiritual values, and practical values. Moral values relate to ethics, such as honesty, integrity, fairness, and justice. Social values are related to social interactions, such as respect, empathy, compassion, and responsibility. Spiritual values relate to a sense of purpose, meaning, and connectedness, such as gratitude, forgiveness, and inner peace. Practical values are related to daily life, such as punctuality, efficiency, and productivity.

Personal values can play a crucial role in shaping an individual's life decisions, goals, and sense of identity. They can influence an individual's attitude towards relationships, work, health, and personal development. For example, if an individual values honesty, they are more likely to be truthful in their relationships and workplace. If an individual values creativity, they may choose a career path that allows them to express their creative abilities. If an individual values health and fitness, they may prioritize exercise and healthy eating in their daily life.

Personal values are not static and can change over time as an individual's experiences and priorities change. However, having a clear understanding of one's personal values can help individuals make more informed decisions and lead a more fulfilling life. It can also help individuals navigate difficult situations and make choices that are aligned with their authentic selves.

Here Are The 4 Common Missteps in Clarifying Your Values:

1) Mistaking Goals for Values

Mistaking goals for values is a common confusion that individuals can encounter while trying to identify and clarify their personal values. Goals are specific objectives or targets that individuals strive to achieve, while values are broader principles that guide an individual's behavior and decision-making. While goals are typically short-term and specific, values are long-term and more abstract.

Goals can often be mistaken for values because they can reflect an individual's personal priorities and aspirations. However, goals are often influenced by external factors such as societal norms, peer pressure, or media influence, while values are more intrinsic and based on an individual's beliefs and principles.

For example, an individual might set a goal to earn a certain amount of money or achieve a particular job title. While these goals may reflect their personal priorities and aspirations, they do not necessarily align with their core values. If the individual's core values are based on relationships, personal growth, and creativity, they may not achieve true satisfaction and fulfillment by focusing solely on financial or career success.

Mistaking goals for values can lead to a lack of fulfillment and purpose in life. Individuals who prioritize achieving external goals over their intrinsic values may feel a sense of emptiness or disconnection from their authentic selves. It is important to distinguish between goals and values and ensure that goals are aligned with personal values to achieve long-term satisfaction and success.

To avoid mistaking goals for values, individuals can ask themselves why a particular goal is essential to them and how it aligns with their personal values. By reflecting on the underlying motivations and principles behind their goals, individuals can identify whether they are pursuing their goals for intrinsic or extrinsic reasons and make adjustments accordingly. It is also essential to regularly reevaluate personal values and ensure that they are consistent with one's current beliefs and priorities.

2) Trying to Control The Uncontrollable

Trying to control the uncontrollable refers to the act of attempting to exert power over situations or events that are beyond an individual's control. It is a common human tendency to want to feel in control of our lives, but there are situations and circumstances that are simply beyond our control. Examples of uncontrollable events include natural disasters, other people's behavior, and unexpected life changes.

Attempting to control the uncontrollable can lead to feelings of anxiety, stress, and frustration. It can cause individuals to expend their energy and resources on things that are ultimately futile, which can result in burnout and a sense of helplessness. Moreover, trying to control the uncontrollable can prevent individuals from fully accepting and adapting to their circumstances, leading to an inability to find peace and contentment in life.

However, it is essential to note that acknowledging the uncontrollable does not mean giving up or being passive in the face of adversity. Accepting that some things are beyond our control can be liberating and empowering. It allows individuals to focus on what they can control, such as their reactions, mindset, and attitudes towards the situation.

To stop trying to control the uncontrollable, individuals can take the following steps:

  1. Identify what is beyond their control: Individuals can make a list of situations or events that they are trying to control and identify which of them are beyond their control.

  1. Let go of the need for control: Individuals can reflect on why they feel the need to control certain situations and challenge any irrational beliefs or fears that are driving their need for control.

  1. Focus on what they can control: Individuals can redirect their energy towards what they can control, such as their thoughts, feelings, and reactions to the situation.

  1. Practice acceptance: Individuals can learn to accept the uncontrollable and focus on adapting and finding meaning in the situation.

In conclusion, trying to control the uncontrollable can be a futile and stressful endeavor. By accepting what is beyond our control and focusing on what we can control, we can find peace, contentment, and empowerment in our lives.

3) Wishing to Be Perfect or Somehow Superhuman

Wishing to be perfect or somehow superhuman refers to the belief that one should or can achieve an unattainable standard of excellence in all areas of life. This mindset often involves striving for flawlessness, obsessing over mistakes, and avoiding failure at all costs. Individuals who have this mindset may believe that perfection is necessary to be successful, loved, or accepted.

However, the pursuit of perfection can be detrimental to one's mental health and well-being. Perfectionism can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and burnout. It can cause individuals to set unrealistic expectations for themselves and others, leading to disappointment, frustration, and self-criticism. Moreover, striving for perfection can prevent individuals from taking risks and exploring new opportunities, ultimately limiting their growth and development.

It is essential to note that striving for excellence is not the same as striving for perfection. While striving for excellence involves setting high standards and working hard to achieve them, striving for perfection involves setting unattainable standards and obsessing over minor flaws and mistakes.

To overcome the desire to be perfect or superhuman, individuals can take the following steps:

  1. Recognize the negative effects of perfectionism: Individuals can reflect on how their desire for perfection is affecting their mental health, relationships, and overall well-being.

  1. Challenge unrealistic beliefs: Individuals can challenge their beliefs about the need for perfection and recognize that no one can be perfect in all areas of life.

  1. Embrace imperfection: Individuals can learn to accept their flaws and mistakes as a natural part of the human experience and recognize that these imperfections do not define them.

  1. Focus on progress, not perfection: Individuals can set realistic goals and focus on making progress towards them, rather than obsessing over achieving perfection.

In short, the desire to be perfect or somehow superhuman can be a harmful mindset that leads to negative consequences for one's mental health and well-being. By recognizing the negative effects of perfectionism, challenging unrealistic beliefs, embracing imperfection, and focusing on progress, individuals can overcome the desire to be perfect and live a more fulfilling life.

5) Focusing on Narrowly Defined Behaviors

Focusing on narrowly defined behaviors refers to the tendency to judge oneself or others based on a limited set of actions or behaviors, rather than considering the broader context or intentions behind those actions. This mindset often involves making sweeping generalizations about a person's character or abilities based on a single behavior, without taking into account other relevant factors.

Focusing on narrowly defined behaviors can be problematic because it can lead to unfair judgments, misunderstandings, and conflicts. It can cause individuals to miss out on the complexity and richness of human behavior, leading to a narrow and rigid understanding of themselves and others. Moreover, focusing on narrowly defined behaviors can prevent individuals from recognizing the underlying motives, emotions, and values that drive those behaviors, which can limit their ability to connect and empathize with others.

To overcome the tendency to focus on narrowly defined behaviors, individuals can take the following steps:

  1. Broaden their perspective: Individuals can seek out different perspectives and try to understand the broader context behind a person's behavior. They can ask themselves questions such as, "What might be motivating this behavior?" or "What factors might be influencing this person's actions?"

  1. Practice empathy: Individuals can practice putting themselves in other people's shoes and imagining how they might feel in a given situation. This can help them better understand the motives and emotions behind a person's behavior.

  1. Avoid making sweeping judgments: Individuals can avoid making sweeping generalizations or judgments based on a single behavior. Instead, they can try to see the whole person and acknowledge their complexity and individuality.

  1. Focus on values: Individuals can focus on the underlying values that drive behaviors, rather than just the behaviors themselves. By recognizing the values that motivate their own and others' behaviors, individuals can connect on a deeper level and build more meaningful relationships.

In short, focusing on narrowly defined behaviors can limit our understanding of ourselves and others and lead to unfair judgments and conflicts. By broadening our perspective, practicing empathy, avoiding sweeping judgments, and focusing on values, we can overcome this tendency and build more meaningful and fulfilling relationships.

5) Why Values Are Important: 6 Very Good Reasons to Get to Know Your Values Better 

Values are deeply held beliefs and principles that guide our behavior and decision-making. They represent what is most important to us and provide a sense of purpose and direction in our lives. Here are six very good reasons why it is important to get to know your values better:

  1. Clarity and focus: Understanding your values can provide clarity and focus on what is truly important to you. By identifying your values, you can make more informed decisions about how to spend your time, energy, and resources.

  1. Personal growth: Knowing your values can help you grow and develop as a person. By aligning your actions with your values, you can build confidence, self-awareness, and a sense of purpose.

  1. Goal-setting: Values can serve as a powerful tool for setting and achieving meaningful goals. By setting goals that align with your values, you can increase your motivation and improve your chances of success.

  1. Relationships: Understanding your values can help you build more meaningful and fulfilling relationships. By surrounding yourself with people who share your values, you can deepen your connections and create a more supportive and harmonious social network.

  1. Stress reduction: Living in alignment with your values can reduce stress and promote well-being. When your actions are in harmony with your values, you experience a sense of integrity and authenticity that can boost your sense of self-worth and confidence.

  1. Resilience: Values can provide a source of resilience in difficult times. By tapping into your values during challenging moments, you can find the strength and motivation to persevere and overcome obstacles.

In summary, values are an essential aspect of personal growth, decision-making, goal-setting, and well-being. By taking the time to get to know your values better, you can gain clarity and focus, enhance your relationships, reduce stress, and build resilience.

6) How to Discover And Clarify Your Values: 7 Practical Exercises 

Discovering and clarifying your personal values is a process that requires reflection and self-awareness. Here are seven practical exercises that can help you uncover your values:

  1. Reflect on peak experiences: Think about times in your life when you felt particularly fulfilled or proud of yourself. What values were you living in those moments? For example, you might have felt proud of your honesty, courage, or compassion.

  1. Identify your heroes: Identify people in your life or in history who you admire and respect. What values do they embody? What traits do you aspire to emulate?

  1. Examine your beliefs: Consider the beliefs and assumptions that you hold about the world and the people around you. What values are at the core of these beliefs? For example, you might believe in fairness, justice, or equality.

  1. Prioritize your goals: Look at your short-term and long-term goals. What values are reflected in these goals? For example, you might value adventure, creativity, or financial security.

  1. Identify your strengths: Reflect on your strengths and talents. What values are reflected in these strengths? For example, you might be good at problem-solving, which could reflect a value of resourcefulness.

  1. Examine your passions: Consider the things that you are passionate about. What values are reflected in these passions? For example, you might be passionate about environmentalism, which could reflect a value of sustainability.

  1. Identify your fears: Consider the things that you are afraid of or that make you uncomfortable. What values are at the core of these fears? For example, you might be afraid of being vulnerable, which could reflect a value of authenticity.

By completing these exercises, you can begin to identify the values that are most important to you. Once you have a sense of your values, you can begin to live in alignment with them and make decisions that reflect your true priorities. Keep in mind that values can change over time, so it is important to revisit this process periodically to ensure that you are still living in alignment with your evolving values.


Discovering and clarifying your personal values is an essential step towards living a fulfilling and purposeful life. By understanding what is truly important to you, you can make more informed decisions, set meaningful goals, and build stronger relationships.

The process of discovering your values may take time and effort, but it is a valuable investment in your personal growth and well-being. By reflecting on your experiences, beliefs, goals, strengths, passions, and fears, you can gain clarity and insight into what truly matters to you. With a clear sense of your values, you can live with greater authenticity, integrity, and purpose.

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