A values-driven life is one that not only meets your needs but the needs of those around you. A life grounded in values that meet your needs is a life well-lived.

For the exercises in this blog post, operate out of your imagination, your vision and your dreams (and not your history or memory of your past).

It always astounds me when I engage with clients about values – and they admit they do not think about it much. And sometimes, they need clarity about what a value is.

Core values: the centrepieces of our life

Let’s be clear, a core value is something (an activity, concept, or belief) that makes you feel more like yourself. This could be what makes you excited, grounded, heartfelt, full/complete, and at peace, all at the same time.

They are often treasured and close to our hearts. They may come from our family, sometimes passed on for generations – or something we realized about ourselves. However, often we forget or lose track of our core because we chase urgent responsibilities, unmet needs, unresolved matters, or face distractions. Periodically, we need to alter our life substantially to enhance it to make room for our core values.

Ideally, these values are the centrepieces of our life that everything else revolves around.

Pick your top four values:

  • Experiencing adventure
  • Enjoying beauty
  • To catalyze
  • To contribute
  • To create
  • To discover
  • To feel
  • To lead
  • Mastery of skill or knowledge
  • Experiencing or giving pleasure
  • To relate
  • Be sensitive
  • Be spiritual
  • To teach
  • To win

Next, ask yourself these important questions:

  1. Why are these important to you?
  2. How do you honour these values in your life?
  3. How does your life reflect them?
  4. For people to look at how you live your life and just know/be able to identify your values, what would have to change?
  5. What is stopping you from taking a step towards changing your life to more closely reflect these four top values?
  6. Reflect on what are your most sacred and essential values. What are the things/qualities you most treasure?
  7. Do you honour these in your everyday life?
  8. Does your life reflect your values?
  9. How do you express yourself?
  10. If someone were to come into your life and assess it, what would they guess are your top four values?

Universal needs

Beneath all of this is our universal needs. Ever heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? These include needs such as physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. This is why we do what we do each day – to get our needs met.

Some basic human needs are to be:

  • Being accepted
  • Feeling accomplished
  • Being acknowledged
  • Cared for
  • Being certain
  • Being comfortable
  • Communication
  • Control
  • Duty
  • Feeling free or having freedom
  • Honesty
  • Being loved and expressing love
  • Needed
  • Order
  • Peace
  • Power
  • Recognition
  • Right, or a sense of moral order

After reviewing these values, ask yourself further:

  1. What needs caught your attention?
  2. What needs are currently getting met?
  3. Which needs are unmet and creating suffering or discomfort? (Identify four needs that are not yet met.)
  4. What core values underscore the importance of these needs for you?

Aligning your goals with your values

For you to achieve a life that reflects your values and meets your needs, you need to align your goals with your values.

Make a list of your top four goals for this year and then look at your top four values.

Are they aligned?

Habits and rituals are what will get you there, not motivation or inspiration. Consider these three elements:

  1. Trigger (cue)
  2. Action (habit or ritual)
  3. Reward (beneficial outcome)

These three facets combine to create a recipe for continued success in creating and achieving your goal-aligned values.

Apply the acronym SMART to guide creating your “good goals”

Goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time Related. The more detailed your goals are in each of these areas, the more likely you will achieve them.

We will talk more about SMART goals and needs in next week’s blog.


Kathlyn McHugh RCC, RSW Counselling Practice takes place at the Vitality Clinic in the West Shore Area, close to Victoria BC.

Visit the website at: Home – The Vitality Clinic