Values in action

When are you at your best?

This takes some thinking about. On the whole, we are at our best if the way we are living our lives aligns with our values. Values are the things that you believe in, they are essential to the way you live and work. They are not the same as ‘goals’ which are moveable and temporary and may be guided by your values. Values are more solid and fundamental although they can also change when your circumstances change, so it’s good to review them from time to time.

We can feel a great sense of wellbeing and contentment if we respect our values and deliberately make room for them in our lives. Suppose you work in a fast-paced industry where the ‘norm’ is to work very long days and weekends, but one of your key values is ‘family’. How is that going to pan out? Someone I know has been offered a very high-status job, but he’s worked out that this is going to take him away from his home life and that it will misalign with his values of family and work/life balance, so he has declined the post.

The easiest way to find out your values is to take a questionnaire which is evidence based (it’s reliable and valid!). The test will identify and name your key strengths which are your ‘values in action’, hence the test is called the VIA. You can find it at:

When you’ve done this, you’ll be given your top 30 or so values in action. Look at the top 5 and ask yourself how much room are you giving these in your life? For example, if ‘Love of Learning’ is in your top 5, then what precisely are you doing about this? Do you make time for you to learn new things? Do you go on courses or read? Do you have hobbies and interests? Or are you failing to prioritise your needs and always putting others before you?

There are 5 top values in action that are said to associate most closely with happiness/wellbeing. They are Gratitude (we’ve talked about this one before), Hope, Love, Curiosity, Zest. See where these land in your list and they are the ones that you could work on if they are not in your top 5. Don’t worry about the ones at the bottom of the list (apart from the ones just mentioned of course!), there’s no point wasting time focusing on things that just don’t suit you!

Get the rest of your family and friends to do this! It makes for great conversations and helps your understanding of others.


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