Blank Stares and Shoulder Shrugs

Ask a group of young people to share their personal values and you will probably receive blank stares, shoulder shrugs, and a bunch of I don’t knows. Ask any adult to share their personal values and you will probably get the same result.

So, what are personal values?

Put simply, they are the guiding principles by which you lead your life. Personal values help establish your sense of purpose and direction. They are the core standards that determine your attitudes, choices, and actions.

This week, at Step It Up, we created the space for young people to ask themselves these hard questions. We helped them drill down on their own personal values.

Why are they important?

Believe it or not, knowing your values makes it much easier to pick a career path. For example—if a young person determines that they value achievement then working in a job that doesn’t provide them any upward mobility might not be the best place for them.

What about you? Have you ever thought about your own core values?

Here’s an exercise to help you determine what you value. Have fun while doing it. If you can, involve your friends or family members. Often, it’s beneficial to get the perspective of those who are closest to you.

Step 1

Answer the following questions.

What have been your three greatest accomplishments?

When do you feel that you are at your best?

What are any common rules or themes that you can identify in your life?

What makes you angry?

Step 2

Identify three pieces of advice you would give to yourself based upon the answers you gave to the questions above.

Step 3

Reduce the advice you gave yourself to just a few words. For example: If your advice is “ Stay away from people who are arrogant,” reduce that down to Humility.

Step 4

Think of a situation where following your core values hurts you rather than helps you. For example you might think family sounds good until you realize that you might have to turn down a promotion at work because it would interfere with your family time. If the values you selected seem worth the sacrifices you would need to make to keep them you are on the right track. Narrow your list down to three core values.

We’d love to hear what you came up with in answering these questions. Post a comment below and let’s start a conversation!


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