Determining Your Core Values: Part 2 of 3

determining your core values part 2 of 3

Your values form the foundation of your life. They dictate the choices you make and determine the direction your life takes. They influence your decisions related to your relationships, career, and social activities.

What were the values you were raised with? What values are you presently living in accordance with? Are they the same or different? Do they bring you happiness? These are essential questions that you must ask if you are to find meaning, happiness, success, and connection in your life. Yet, finding the answers to these questions is a challenge and then changing your values in a way that will lead to fulfillment is an even greater challenge.

Understanding Your Values

Looking openly and honestly at the way you were raised is a step in identifying the values instilled in you growing up. What did your parents value and what did they impress upon you—achievement, wealth, education, religion, status, independence, appearance? Think back to your childhood and ask yourself several questions. What values were emphasized in the way your parents lived their lives? What values were stressed in your family? What values were reflected in the way you were rewarded or punished? For example, were you rewarded for being highly ranked in your high school class and for winning in sports, or were you rewarded for giving your best effort and for helping others?

Your next step in understanding involves looking at your present life and the values your life reflects. What do you do for a living?  Are you a corporate employee?   Business owner?  Teacher?  Salesperson?  Caterer?  Social worker?  A common question people ask others is: What do you do for a living? I have seen people get defensive in response to this question. They say, “Who cares what I do?  What I do is not who I am.”  I would suggest otherwise, at least to some degree. Assuming people have choices in the career paths they take, what they choose reflects who they are and what they value. For example, though a bit of a generalization, it is probably safe to say that someone who becomes an investment banker has different core values than someone who becomes an elementary school teacher. Someone who becomes a construction worker values different things than a nurse. Underlying values vary and create common interests, lively dinner conversation and in the end, tension in relationships – at home, at work and in friendships.

  • Where do you live? Apartment?  In the suburbs?  In the country?  What led you there?
  • What activities do you engage in most? Cultural, physical, religious, political, social? What values are reflected in those activities?
  • What do you talk about mostly? politics, religion, the economy, other people—and what does that tell you about your values?
  • What do you spend your money on? a home, cars, travel, clothing, education, art, charity? Because money is a limited resource for most people, they will use their money in ways that they value most. Over and above what people say and other indicators in their life, where they spend their money says the most about what and whom they value.

How did you learn to define success? Some families define success as winning, wealth, job status, physical appearance, or popularity—the more money and power you have and the more attractive and popular you are, the more successful you would be. Growing up with these definitions, success was largely unattainable for most people. As an adult it is imperative to review your core values.

Look at the chart below. Fill it out for yourself, your parents, your employer and others. You will see where areas of relational conflict are, and where there are differences in what you and others value.

In the process of discovery and understanding, please remember that personal coaching and counseling is often helpful. Call, text or email me to set up an appointment. I am also available for online appointments at your convenience.
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When we feel most alive and authentic, it is because we are living in alignment with our values.

  • Love (compassion, unity, helping others)
  • Success (achievement, accomplishment, power)
  • Independence (freedom, autonomy, working alone)
  • Security  (safety, loyalty, order, consistency)
  • Flexibility (change, adaptability, optimism)
  • Power (confidence, wealth, reputation)
  • Faith (trust, spirituality, conviction)
  • Compassion  (kindness, empathy, generosity)
  • Well-Being (health, energy, joy)
  • Peace (presence, contentment, calm)
  • Significance (contribution, influence, recognition, power)
  • Balance (flexibility, harmony, resilience)
  • Growth (wisdom, progress, learning, action)
  • Creativity (inspiration, imagination, originality)
  • Resilience (perseverance, hope, strength)
  • Responsibility (choice, consistency, justice)
  • Integrity (authenticity, truth, fairness)
  • Simplicity (calm, silence, peace, free time)
  • Adventure (bravery, courage, action)
  • Family (tradition, connection, relationships)
  • Helping Society
  • Team Work
  • Other

Exploring Values

Your values are the beliefs that define what is most important to you. They act as a guide for your decisions. Oftentimes, they are greatly influenced by important people in our life, and our society.

Fill in the blanks for each topic below:

My mother’s values:                                                      My father’s values:

1.                                                                                         1.

2.                                                                                        2.

3.                                                                                        3.

4.                                                                                        4.

An Important person to my values:                           Society’s values:

1.                                                                                         1.

2.                                                                                        2.

3.                                                                                        3.

4.                                                                                        4.

The values I would like to live by:                              The values I actually live by:

1.                                                                                         1.

2.                                                                                        2.

3.                                                                                        3.

4.                                                                                        4.

Determining Your Core Values – Part 1 of 3

what are your values

How Would You Define Your Values?

Before you can answer the question about what you value, you need to know, in general, what values are.

Values are the things that we believe are important; our fundamental beliefs about life. They determine our priorities and contribute to what we do and what we don’t do.

Have you ever wanted to change something about your life, but somehow felt like you were unable to? Maybe you’ve wanted to quit smoking, or start saving part of your earnings, or get out of debt, or get into a relationship, but felt stuck every time you attempted it?

Let’s look at your values. Values influence you and drive decisions that you make in your daily life. They may be values that you hold because they were your parents’ or peers’ values, or because of what you were taught or decisions you made long ago.

The path to intentional change always begins with awareness. There’s no need to berate yourself for choices you have made in the past. Just be aware of them, and learn from them.

When we feel most alive and authentic, it is because we are living in alignment with our values.

  • Love                        (passion, playfulness, connection, self-expression, compassion, unity)
  • Success                  (achievement, pride, self-worth, contribution)
  • Independence     (self expression, freedom, openness, autonomy)
  • Connection           (intimacy, belonging, honesty)
  • Security                  (trust, loyalty, confidence)
  • Flexibility           (adventure, courage, excitement, adaptability)
  • Empowerment     (confidence, self-esteem, fulfillment, self-worth)
  • Passion                   (excitement, fulfillment, aliveness)
  • Faith                        (trust, comfort, ease)
  • Compassion          (kindness, empathy, generosity)
  • Well-Being            (health, vitality, energy)
  • Peace                       (presence, contentment, balance)
  • Significance          (contribution, charity, influence, gratitude, recognition)
  • Balance                  (flexibility, wholeness, harmony)
  • Growth                   (wisdom, progress, expansion)
  • Joy                           (delight, humor, happiness)
  • Creativity           (inspiration, curiosity, power, innovation)
  • Resilience             (perseverance, hope, strength)
  • Responsibility (contribution, choice, empowerment, providing)
  • Integrity                (authenticity, balance, truth) 

In an effort to determine your personal values, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Where do you spend your money?
  2. How do you spend your time?
  3. How do you spend your energy?

This is Step #1 of a three step blog.

In this step, identify your values. Choose your top 5. Write them down on an index card. Consider every day how they influence the decisions you make. The complete list of values follows below.

If you could choose something to hold as your highest value, what would it be?   I choose faith. At times, even though I wanted faith to be my highest value, the truth is that it took a back seat to success. Once I saw how that operated in my life, and the impact it had on me, I was in a position to choose differently. We always have a choice when we are aware and authentic.

In step #2 we will go further into the study of values, as it affects relationships.

If you could benefit from coaching or counseling, please email or contact me here.

I sincerely appreciate you forwarding this to your friends as well.

Values List











Being the best






































Financial independence



















































Risk Taking
























Show Up: Living with Purpose

life each day of your life with purpose

I have a serious question…

How satisfied are you with how your life is going?

If your answer to this question is that I’m pretty satisfied with how my life is going, or some variation of that, then good for you! Keep on doing what you’re doing.

For those of you who aren’t too satisfied with how your life is going, this next part is for you.

People can live a hundred years and end up not truly living a single day of those hundred years feeling satisfied. If you’re wondering how this can be true, then ponder this…

What’s the point in living a hundred years if you’re not going to make sure that you make those years count? If you aren’t going to make a difference in the lives of others? Are you kind? Respectful? Are you driven? Humble? Devoted? Do you show up for what matters and do you say no to the things that don’t?

If you’re not living a life that you enjoy, then are you truly living? Your life should be full of meaningful moments.  Sometimes the first step to finding satisfaction, is to choose positivity over negativity. To choose joy.

You can do this by becoming more aware of how you’re feeling and when you’re feeling it. Pay attention to your emotions as they happen and choose your responses wisely.

Unexpected and unwanted things will enter into your life. We are all going to deal with difficult moments. We don’t have to let these moments stop us from living our life with joy.

Part of living with joy and intention is living in a way that gives you a purpose and fulfillment, not emptiness. If you’re not feeling fulfilled then it’s your job to go out into the world and find that something that makes you excited to live. And don’t live somebody else’s version of your life. Live your version.

When Yasutaro Koide, the oldest man in the world, died this past January at 112 years old, an interview with him was published. He was quoted as saying that his secret to living a long life was due to the fact that he tried to not overdo things and that he tried to live with joy. He was intentional about his own joy and satisfaction. In his life, he showed up and lived it well.

So choose positivity, live intentionally, find your purpose, and simply show up.

– Cheryl




On ‘being’ Present

As a leadership coach and counselor, I work with people who want to improve the way they interact with others – at their job, in their families and socially.

When clients participate in a 360 assessment, a comprehensive insight report or a leadership self-assessment, one of the lowest reported behaviors is  “Gives others his/her full presence and attention during meetings and conversations.” If you take time to observe your personal behavior and that of others you work or live with, you’ll understand why the behavior of being fully present is often rated so low.

The increasing levels of dependence on smartphones and other electronics are well documented. If you’re paying attention to, or distracted by what’s on a screen, you’re not fully present for the people you’re actually talking with. Earlier this year, I worked with an executive who decided to focus on being more present for her staff. She made some choices that made a difference in her being present for her staff. Some of her choices included:

  1. Putting the smartphone away during meetings, out of reach.
  2. Turning off the computer screen during meetings. Fully focus on the person with no distractions.
  3. Conducting meetings away from her desk so she wouldn’t be distracted by anything on it.
  4. Asking people who stuck their head in her office for a quick question while she was talking to someone else, to come back later.
  5. Negotiating a call back time with her partners rather than stopping what she was doing for an important call or question.

When I asked her to reflect on the impact of making those changes, she said what surprised her most was that she felt not only like a better boss but also like a better person.  She said that after a few weeks of being very present, she realized that her distractibility had been a lack of respect for the people she was working with and cared for.

The ongoing benefit and growth for my client have continued. By being more present at work, she’s found that she’s more patient outside of work as well. Her daughter has been home from college this summer and she’s strengthened her relationship with her by giving her more of her undivided attention. She said, “I am so much more aware of what’s going on around me. I have become a much better listener and observer of others.”

That’s a lot of positive leverage out of something as simple as deciding to be more present in your life.

This week, work on being present.

For example:

– Enjoy your work. Don’t be too busy thinking about deadlines or bottom lines, to give yourself a chance to enjoy it. Do your best work – for the right reasons.

– Don’t be so distracted by thoughts of Monday morning that you spoil the weekend.

– Do not let the opinions of others, formed through actions you took in the past, stop you from being who you are in the present.

Wherever you are, commit to being there, completely. Life will take care of the rest.

Pick a meeting or two where you’re going to put the smartphone away, turn off your computer and silence the ringer on your desk phone. Family dinner or movie night? Electronics away! Notice what happens relationally. Then do it again.

You just might be pleasantly surprised at the benefits of being fully present in your own life.

If you have an interest in doing a leadership assessment, contact me at  It would be my pleasure to work with you.

A Community In Pain

painBy its very nature, death makes you question things.

You question what you believe, what you thought to be true, and you question your assumptions about the way you, and others, are living life.

Death changes everything – some things temporarily, others forever.

Our community is in pain.

A community of students, staff, parents, relatives and friends will gather to memorialize Seth Budai, guidance counselor at Winters Mill High School, on Saturday. Seth waged a determined and dignified battle against cancer. He lived his life dedicated to the students of the high school. His testimony was one of sheer determination to never give up the fight.

On Sunday, the community will gather to memorialize JeannieBird, the beloved bakery shop owner, tragically killed in an accident this week. JeannieBird dedicated herself to sweetening life for every person who walked on Main Street Westminster. Her bakery is a gathering place of pure joy.

The North Carroll High School community is in pain over the fatal accident involving one of their teachers. When chaos comes, and families struggle to figure their way through the maze of pain and grief, there are words that help and ones that do not. May we be a community offering words of comfort.

Let me say it again – our community is in pain.

Chaos and disorganization are real. Things get messy. People ask you to explain what is going on, but you can’t explain. It isn’t possible to put into words what you don’t understand yourself.

  • the way you see the world is distorted
  • the way you breathe feels different somehow
  • the way you feel about life makes you question everything
  • the words and thoughts in your head seem like a foreign language
  • the beat of your heart is a distraction when it’s quiet

It is then that you have crossed over the invisible line; the line from which there is no going back. It is the line that divides before and after. How many times I unknowingly looked at the invisible line and uttered, sometimes out loud, ‘this is crazy’ or ‘I seriously can’t believe this’ or ‘can someone please tell me this is a nightmare – I think I am going crazy’ …

Our own losses affect how we interpret other people’s stories, and intersect with their pain. Everyone has a story; mine is one of pain, and I don’t always want to tell it, but there are threads of connectivity between those of us with stories of grief – deep loss and pain have common language.

There are precious and honorable existential moments in the sacred spaces of grief. Those moments are never to be taken lightly. They are moments when we find ourselves in the presence of the divine.

Life is heavier, slower, more deliberate now. Time is moving on, and life is continuing, but the absences are real and they are painful.

I pray that our words will be compassionate, honorable and consoling to the broken hearted.

May the God of love and grace comfort the families and may He comfort our community at large.


Ms. Cheryl Held