Making value driven choices

At the end of the day, the position is just a position, a title is just a title, and those things come and go. It's really your essence and your values that are important.

Queen Rania of Jordan



Delivering stress management and personal effectiveness training for some years now, one topic that invariably comes up during the sessions we run at Limitless is that of how to manage the Work/Life balance.


Questions such as the ones below come up every time, almost always from women:


How do I deliver what I need to at work when I have to leave at 4:30pm to pick up the children?


How can I develop my career when there are so many pressures on me in terms of bringing up my family?


I want a career but I know my husband/family see it as secondary to my role as a wife/daughter, what should I do?


I am happy working part time and bringing up my children, but my peers make me feel guilty, what should I do?


The one thing all these questions have in common is they are about the CHOICES we make. Life is full of them, we have to acknowledge that there sometimes isn’t enough time in the day to do all the things we want and have to do, so we make choices about how we live our lives. If the basis of these choices is something real and true to you and your values then they will ‘sit well’, but if they conflict with what is important to us then it can cause significant conflict and stress.


Values are defined as your principles or standards of behavior, your judgement of what is important in life. They evolve from the culture you live in, the people you are surrounded by and the experiences you have early in life. Whilst they may change slightly over time, generally the values we have as we grow up stay as a core part of who we are as adults. However in different stages of our lives, the order of these values (see below) may change due to our circumstances and life stages.


Values aren’t just important for individuals. Values also play an important role in successful organizations. Ensuring that your values permeate through the organization at every level and in every aspect of the business helps to attract and retain similar like-minded individuals who will fit in with the culture and behavior of the organization.


So what Values do you hold? Here are some examples below, some people almost instinctively know what they would choose, but you can easily find lists of values on the internet if you need some inspiration.


It’s not just about the word or phrase you choose, it’s the meaning behind that word that is so important. Two people could choose the same Value for example Excellence, but it could mean very different things to each of them, for one it could be about getting everything right, a sort of perfectionism whereas for someone else it could be about stretching and challenging themselves to be the best they can be. As the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, once said “Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave them all over everything you do”.


A 3 step approach to discovering your values:

  1. Find a quiet place to sit down and come up with at least 5 words/phrases that you feel reflect what is important to you. Write these words individually on separate pieces of paper.
  2. Take each one of those words and write next to them what it actually means, take as long as you need to make the single word/phrase personal to you.
  3. Once you are satisfied with your personal definitions, pick up two values and decide which is the more important. Then pick the third value and place it in relation to the first two. Do the same with the last two values and you have your own personal values hierarchy.


Once you know your values, you have a great set of guidelines for making the choices you inevitably have to in life. For those individuals who get stressed about the pressure to work late vs being home with the family it really is a matter of what comes first on your Value list. If a family related value is higher than a Career/Success related value then the most satisfying option for you will be to look for flexible working, or feel confident that when you leave ‘on the dot’ that it is the best for you and your family.


In addition to being guidelines for the choices we have, our values are also great motivators when we don’t feel that we have a choice. By “Reframing” a seemingly unpopular choice in light of your strongest value helps you find meaning in even the most challenging of situations. So for someone who has to work late but who has a primary value based around family we would look to see what benefits longer working could bring to the family e.g. additional money for quality time activities, being a hard working conscientious role model for children etc.


Knowing your values is a great step for those looking to develop as individuals. They are such powerful influencers when it comes to how we feel and behave that understanding and leveraging the values you have makes you a more motivated and effective individual.


 “When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.

Roy E. Disney





About Alison Burgess


Alison Burgess is the founder of Limitless Consulting. Limitless is an international training and development consultancy delivering highly effective Management, Leadership and Personal Excellence training, with a particular focus on Women’s development and encouraging Gender diversity.


Alison can be contacted at:




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