One of the most potent tools for making fulfilling life choices is the Values-Based Decision Matrix. This matrix is launched during the initial values clarification process. Most clients find this exercise very revealing, and they are often very surprised at what they learn about themselves. Please note that the listing of values may take a longer time to complete, sometimes even several months.
Values are intangible, they are nothing we can “have”, like a car, or money.
Often values having a strong charge of right or wrong, e.g. orderliness is considered “good”, while “living in the moment” can have a touch of being non responsible and egoistic. People tend to treat them like priciples, and internalise them from parents, teachers, or other important persons in their life. They become a “should have”. But living values that are not ours feels somehow dissonant, difficult and heavy.
For this exercise, it is important to see values as charge neutral, neither good nor bad. The only important question is: “Are they important and fulfilling for me?”. When we live our values, we feel an inner “rightness”, we feel that we are moving in the right direction, we enjoy what we do. Not the value itself is important – it’s the ability to live that value fully.
Every activity in our life can be linked to a value honored or betrayed. You can always ask: “Where is this value showing up?”
1. Identify Your Top 10 Values
Brainstorm a list of values. You can use the following strategies to identify them:
- A Peak Moment in Time – Ask the client to identify special, peak moments when life was especially rewarding or poignant.
- Suppressed Values – Another way to isolate values is to go to the opposite extreme, looking at times when a client was angry, frustrated, or upset. This will often lead to identification of a value that was being suppressed. Eg, the coach might say, “So you felt frustrated when they kept spinning their wheels, doing the same thing over and over again? Is the other side of that a value for creativity or innovation?”
Must-Haves – Another way for clients to identify their values is to look at what they must have in their lives. Beyond the physical requirements of food, shelter, and community, what must you have in your life in order to be fulfilled?
- Friends – Make a list of friends that you felt close to throughout your life and describe them with one or two qualities. If you see these qualities in others, there is a high chance that you have them too.
You can also group values in clusters of 2 or 3 words.
It is not so important to clarify the exact meaning – Important is what you feel about the words, what they represent for you. Use your own words and expressions.
Forward the Action
To Be Known
Lack of Pretense
Freedom to Choose
Rank the top ten values in priority order.
By ranking, we get a better feeling for each value, and the importance for it in our life.
Score your sense of satisfaction – the degree to which you are honoring each value in your life – using a scale of 0 to 10.
Important values with a low score are a great opportunity for coaching. They raise questions like: “What would it take to live that value in those circumstances?”, or “What is the price for not honoring this value?”
Source: CTI toolkit