A recent Blog post inspired me to get clear on and to update my values.
It’s been a while since I’ve gotten really clear on what my values are, and I was really curious to see how they may have changed in the last five years.
Now, when it comes to values there are two slightly different schools of thought I’ve learned about them.
Tony Robbins Definition of Values
The first person I ever learned anything about values from was Tony Robbins.
I’m pretty sure he didn’t originate the concept, but he was the first person I learned it from so I’ll refer to his definition first.
Robbin’s defines life values simply as things that we value and hold dear in our lives.
He then further references means and ends values. Means values are simply values that are means to an end, whereas ends values are the ends themselves.
For example, let’s say that you value money. That is a means value, because money is really just a means to an end.
If you ask yourself “What does money mean to me?“, the answer you may come up with could be “security”, or perhaps “freedom”.
Security and freedom are ends values because they represent the final emotional state you are really seeking when you value a means value.
In other words, if you sit down and make a list of things that you value most in your life, you may come up with something like:
However, by looking at this list you can start to see that a lot of these values are not ends values, such as for example your marriage, your house, business, money or even friends. You have to go further and ask yourself what these values mean to you and what emotional states they produce in your life.
For example, your business may really represent the value of freedom to you. Your marriage may mean love, or security. Your friends may mean fun or joy, etc.
Once you make a list of your values, and you find out what the ends value behind each means value is, you have your list of values.
The next step in the process is to become clear on the hierarchy of your values. We all have a values hierarchy, and the hierarchy of your values makes a huge difference in your life.
For example, let’s say you have two people who both value “freedom” and “security”. However, Person A values freedom as his #1 highest value, and security is #10 on his list, while Person B values security as his #1 highest value, with freedom being #10. Based on this set of values, these people’s lives will most likely be drastically different even though they both value the same two values.
For example, which of these two people would be more likely to take a “secure” government job, and which one do you think would be more likely to get involved with a start-up company which offers a flexible schedule and the “freedom” to work however many hours you want per week?
Dr. DeMartini Definition of values
Dr. DeMartini’s definition of values is slightly different from Tony Robbins.
In a way they are very similar, but Dr. DeMartini defines things such as “wealth”, “relationships”, “socializing” and even “beauty / attractiveness” as values a person could have, whereas Tony Robbins would define those as means values which need to be further refined towards the ends values hiding behind them.
If for example “socializing” represents a feeling of connection to you, then really the value you are seeking is “connection” and not “socializing”. Socializing is just a means for you to achieve a feeling of connection. For someone else, however, maybe “socializing” brings about a feeling of joy, or maybe even excitement.
In the end, it really doesn’t matter which system you use. I kind of prefer getting clear on both.
I could start with a list of DeMartini type values, and then ask myself what each of the values represents to me in terms of emotions and feelings to determine the ends values as Tony Robbins defines them.
How to Determine Your Values
There are number of different ways to determine what your values are.
A few years ago I wrote an article on how to determine what your values are. It’s a good place to start.
While digging through Steve’s site I also found a link to a cool online tool written by Douglas Wagoner which you can use to identify your values and then automatically rank them by answering a series of questions. You can find this values tool here.
Finally, if you prefer the DeMartini method of values, you can learn how to determine them here.
What My Values Revealed
Personally, I prefer the Tony Robbins values system because I find it more meaningful to me at a deeper level, but really I kind of use both.
What I ended up doing is I started off by just writing down what I thought my values might be off the top of my head based on the last four years of my life, and then I used Douglas Wagoner’s tool to rank my vales. I then further combined certain values to create seven main value groups.
In the end, I kind of arrived in the same place as if I went through the DeMartini method so really I think all roads lead to the same place.
My hierarchy of values for the last four years has been:
Spirituality (Intuition, Inspiration, Spiritual Connection)
Peace (Tranquility, Stillness, Presence)
Wisdom (Awareness, Understanding, Intuition)
Health (Fitness, Diet, Environment)
Abundance (Freedom, Financial Independence, Legacy)
Joy (Passion, Competition, Lightheartedness)
Love (Connection, Authenticity, Oneness)
When I started looking at this list, it became very clear to me why my life has been unfolding the way it has been in the last four years.
For example, when I look at the fact that Spirituality has been my #1 highest value, it makes a LOT of sense.
Four years ago, if you asked me where Spirituality was on my list of values it probably would have been around #5 or #6 or so. Even though I have always had a strong intuitive connection, I used to only use it in life and death situations.
Today, I feel a very strong spiritual connection to my higher self. Today I feel very inspired by what I do. Today I feel a very deep connection to my intuition, and I actually listen to what it’s telling me!
I have no doubt that Spirituality has been my highest value in the last four years.
I can say the same thing with Peace. My life is way more peaceful than it was four years ago. I have significantly increased the amount of energy and time I devote to fostering tranquility and stillness in my environment. Compared to where I was four years ago, I am way more present in the moment. I feel tranquility, stillness and presence.
The same thing with Wisdom. I feel that by fostering a spiritual connection to my intuition, I have evolved from a place of knowledge to a place of wisdom.
What’s interesting to me is that I have made huge progress in the Top 3 values, but not as much progress in the last four values.
For example, speaking purely from a financial point of view I was making more money four years ago than I did in the last year, so technically speaking you could say that I was closer to financial independence four years ago than I am today. However, if you look at financial independence as being in a place in your life where you do things because you love doing them, instead of doing them for money, then I’m more financially independent today than I was four years ago.
I definitely see that I’ve put a lot of energy into making sure the first three values have been met in my life in the last four years.
Now what I want to do is to start putting more energy into the remaining four values.
If you look at my weight loss challenge, for example, that connects with my values of Health (diet, fitness) as well as Joy (competition, lightheartedness), while also at the same time bringing more Wisdom (Awareness, Understanding) to the nutritional information I learned during my nutrition studies.
Just going through this exercise has brought a lot of new awareness into my life. It’s like a lightbulb that goes off in your head that makes you realize “Ahhh, that’s why I keep doing things this way!”
If you haven’t gone through your values list for over six-months (if ever), I highly recommend you spend the time getting clear on what your values really are. Doing so will bring a new perspective on your life.