How do you define it?

IMG_1455Last week, I wrote about the process I went though in which I identified my values.  If you didn’t read the post, you can read it here.  I also suggest that you take this opportunity to identify your values using the techniques that I talk about in the post (but make sure you come back and finish reading this one too afterward).

Last weekend, my room mate decided to host a BBQ in which I had the opportunity to meet some of his friends.  One of these people included Christopher, a certified Master Coach Practitioner at Change My Life Coaching.  In the process of chatting, we got onto the topic of my values and goals.  He challenged me to define what each word that I listed as a value actually meant to me.

First, this challenge caught me a bit off guard as I guess I never really thought about the definition of my values more in-depth than accepting them the way that society has defined each of these words, or that the words invoked an emotion in me that I identified with.  After reflecting on it for a bit, I decided that this could be a neat challenge and an opportunity to really define these values for myself in order to clarify the way that I actually identified with them.

So I think that I am going to do this in two ways, first off I am going to use Merriam-Webster‘s definition of each word as clarification on what each item means in the context in which I listed it as a value.  The second point I am going to tie into each word is why I value or identify or strive to include this item in my life.

  1. Accomplishment
    • “The act of accomplishing” or bringing to completion
    • I value accomplishment because one of my weaknesses is procrastination. Each time I accomplish a task, project or goal, I view it as a way in which I have overcome this weakness.  I also like the positive feelings that come with seeing the final product of something in which I have contributed my efforts.
  2. Acknowledgment
    • “A declaration or avowal of one’s act or of a fact to give it legal validity”
    • This is a little harder for me to express unless I do so in two parts.  This first is the fact that I really enjoy the warm feelings that I get when an external source recognizes my talents, abilities, or accomplishments.  However, on the flip side, I also enjoy acknowledging other people’s talents, abilities, or accomplishments and celebrating these with them.
  3. Amusement
    • “Pleasurable Diversion”
    • Experiencing amusement is less valuable for me than redefining experiences in a way that they can be amusing.  It is very easy to point out the negative aspects of an experience, but if you can find and share the positive aspects of an experience, the same event can have two very different outcomes.
  4. Comfort
    • The definition of comfort isn’t quite the way in which I interpreted this value.  I think that I am going to define it as “Comfortable” which is “affording or enjoying contentment and security; free from stress or tension”
    • External forces have certainly influenced my value of comfort, but I believe that it is most certainly the driving force for my career decisions and my goal of being debt-free.
  5. Connection
    • “a relation of personal intimacy”
    • This ties very closely to my value of friendship.  I really love sharing moments and experiences with people that I value, and the memories that these experiences provide to us as a special bond that only we can share.
  6. Control
    • “to exercise restraining or directing influence over”
    • I struggle most when I find myself in situations in which I have lost all control and I appear to have no ability to alter the current course of events in order to change the results of the situation.
  7. Dependability
    • “capable of being depended on; reliable”
    • Trust ties very tightly to dependability to me.  I believe that if I can depend on someone, I also share a high level of trust and belief in that person.
  8. Friendship
    • “the quality or state of being friendly”
    • This is certainly one of my most important values.  I try to put my friends above everything else because they are one of the most important aspects of my life.  I value my friends as if they are a part of my family, and love meeting new people that also join this elite group of people in my universe.
  9. Honesty
    • “fairness and straightforwardness of conduct”
    • I believe we all struggle with honesty as it conflicts with our desire to avoid hurting people’s feelings.  However, more often than not, I find that this is an unfounded fear and by being honest, it results in me forming a stronger bond with the person with whom I have just shared my honest emotions with.
  10. Knowledge
    • “the fact or condition of having information or of being learned”
    • Learning from my past has made me into a better person, and I look forward to learning from my future to grow even further.
  11. Nonconformity
    • “refusal to conform to an established or conventional creed, rule, or practice”
    • While following the rules can be fun sometimes, I also think it is important to challenge why a rule is being imposed.  I also refuse to accept something as “the way it is” without verifying that it is true.  Finally, the only way to bring about change is to start with changing myself.
  12. Reputation
    • “overall quality or character as seen or judged by people in general”
    • I want to live my life in a manner in which I will be remembered as a good person that brought something positive to a situation or experience and helped other people to become better after I leave the room, situation, experience or overall when my current existence ends.
  13. Sexuality
    • “expression of sexual receptivity or interest”
    • Society has done an amazing job of suppressing sexuality and teaching us that it is wrong to discuss, share, and enjoy.  As a result, we have been left with the lack of education and resources to fully understand our feelings, urges, sensations, and experiences which results in a multitude of sexual hangups, embarrassments about turn-on’s and turn-off’s, and a general feeling of being inadequate.
  14. Thoughtfulness
    • “anticipation of the needs and wants of others”
    • This is truly harder said than done.  Having a level of intimacy with another person in which you can anticipate a need or a want takes a lot of time and attention to connecting with them on a deeper level in which you can be in tune with their emotions before they happen.
  15. Traditionalism
    • “adherence to the doctrines or practices of a tradition”
    • I love small things that surround holidays, such as turkey for Thanksgiving; cards, decorations, and lights at Christmas; ect.  Even though I believe that times, values, and people change, I love keeping the little traditions that make celebrations special
  16. Trust
    • “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something”
    • I strive to be a person in which my friends can turn to for support, council, or assistance.  I also seek like minded people that are trustworthy to be close friends in which I can count on to be there for me when I need it.
  17. Wisdom
    • “ability to discern inner qualities and relationships”
    • I value wisdom in contrast to struggling with regret.  I believe that the universe puts each and everyone of us into a situation in which we have the opportunity to learn and grow as individuals, some good and some that hurt.  However, the true test is translating each lesson into wisdom that can be applied into situations that you will encounter in the future.

I’ll leave you with this final thought.  When I started writing this blog, I was extremely enthusiastic about the challenge of really ripping back the layers and expressing my true feelings about my values.  I was extremely caught off guard by the amount of emotion this invoked and the amount of energy it took to continue to press on and be honest with myself about who I am.  This exercise was mind-blowing in the way that it peeled back multiple layers of my personality in order to bring to completion.  This truly was an extremely rewarding experience.

I challenge you to take this time to extract your definitions of your values for yourself.

5 thoughts on “How do you define it?

  1. Well done! I really felt you delved into this and have a better understanding of your values for you! Thank you for the mention as well! It’s greatly appreciated!


  2. Good post, Matt. Aren’t you glad he challenged you to do a bit more work with your values? So, 17 values seems a big number. I’m curious, if you had to identify with only four, which would they be? And just to take the exercise one step further, which is your core value – the one which most personifies who you really are? Lastly (and sorry, unsolicited), how have you aligned and integrated your four values into your personal goals? All this from a curious reader. 🙂


    • I’m very glad that he challenged me to expand my values.

      My question is what made you decided that we should be limited by only 4 key values? As for integrating them with my goals, I honestly have not allocated time to do that, but having identified my values has certainly provided clarity in making new decisions


      • If you narrow it down to a small handful (weather it’s four or or three or six) you will find them more manageable… you will remember them in your head much easier… you will also find that many of the values fall under a couple of key values. (i.e. while knowledge and wisdom are different… wisdom implies knowledge… make sense?)


      • Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Matt. My invitation didn’t suggest limiting the exercise to only four values. And even more valuable is the ability to known and exemplify one’s core key value. From a curious perspective, I proffered the opportunity to delve a bit deeper into the work you had begun. From my experience coaching leaders and executives for years, I know it’s more challenging to list three or four of anything than 15-20. And to be able to isolate and identify the most important among any select mix, and know why, is a vastly more focused exercise.

        It’s certainly a good outcome that you have greater clarity when aligning decision making with your values. Kudos!


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