Do you know what you want in life? How do you know when you are making the right decisions for yourself? If you ever feel pulled in different directions when it comes to choices, then you need to identify your values in life.
What do life values mean?
Your life values mean your principles in life that guide you in living your life your way.
Earlier we shared on why and how to identifying who you are, your identity of self and listed some questions to ask yourself to understand yourself better.
When you know who you are, you will know what you want in life, what is worth pursuing, who matter(s) to you, how you want to live your life in future, and how to progress towards your goals and dreams in your own terms, and living a life with direction instead of meandering aimlessly.
But how do you actually start understanding yourself at your core?
In addition to the questions we asked in the earlier post, you can also start observing yourself  in your normal day-to-day activities such as what you love reading, what genre of songs you like, where do you prefer going when you are alone, and so on which by the way, have to be explored and experienced as you go along.
For instance, you may be interested in poems but do you know there are different forms of poetry, more than thirty of them in fact!
These things that you discover from daily basis are often missed out by most people who would simply let days pass by doing what they were told to do without much thoughts about what they really want.
The next step to discovering yourself is to identify your values which will be the guidance in your life decisions and direction moving forward. 
What are Values? 
As MindTools explained, “your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work. They (should) determine your priorities, and, deep down, they’re probably the measures you use to tell if your life is turning out the way you want it to.”
They are like your pole to lean on yet act as your laser pointer whenever you need direction or are faced with difficult choice situations.
From a personal perspective, it means what you place importance on as an individual, what you hold on to close, what gives you focus and direction when you are faced with difficult situations to handle or decide on.
It means your principles in life that guide you in living your life your way.
How to find out what your values are? 
You can look back to your past experience on what you love doing, or review situations when you were ‘forced’ to choose or decide.
  1. What gives you feel more powerful or in control?
  2. Are there things that you love working on? 
  3. What makes you happy or uplifts you?
  4. What do you do that makes you feel like you have done good or achieved results you are proud of?
  5. Who wr what would you stand up for? 
  6. Often you will find a series of events you love doing and find pattern in them (perhaps helping people, e.g be of service to them)
Once you are done with that, you can then move on to identifying your values via paper exercise.
This is where you get a list of resonating words. The list is non-exhaustive. You can find the basic exercise on MindTools.
  1. Firstly, you will cross out those that do not relate to you at all
  2. And then streamline them down to top ten, 
  3. And further down to top five.It will be very difficult to reduce down to five because at this point all will seem important to you.A quick guide is to ask yourself if you only can choose between two from the list, which would you choose? Then strike out the one that does not relate as much.
  4. And arrange your top five values in order of importance.
These top five values will then be the ones that resonate most with you.
Values = What makes you hold on to your decisions so strongly?
To some of us, it may be integrity, some may be justice or love, family or health and the decisions one make may depend on that.
Sometimes we have trouble deciding more major issues like choosing for college or going to work. In this case, evaluate what is more important to you right now.
If you value knowledge, perhaps going to college may be a straightforward decision.
However, not all of us have the options to attend college without financial burden. To some of you, it may mean heading straight to working society right after graduation. Do not let that discourage you or deviate from your value. Even when you start working, you can also find ways to learn although the knowledge you gain will obviously be from different avenues.
Values are not set for life
Even though values may be your direction bearer at present, it does not mean what you decide on your value now will remain the same till you are old or that you cannot change them anymore.
Your values are only good for you when they resonate with you now.
As you meander along in life, you will find your priorities, needs and desires change.
While schooling, your priority may be education (hence, inquisitiveness), and friendships, adventures or discipline.
As you step out to work, it may mean health, challenges, piety, success and so on.
When you start a family in future, your values will change too.
However, it also does not mean that your values will definitely change. It can stick with you for as long as you want it to.
My Life Values
For me my TOP five values are (1) Health, (2) Family, (3) Integrity, (4) Explore and  (5) Growth & Development; in order of priority (and they have been the same since I realised them five years ago)
Health is my utmost priority.
Because it is the most expensive thing in the world (to me). I realised this with age as well because I didn’t know how important it is until I fell sick. I could earn lots of money and still get freaked out by a health scare, which then would jeopardise all performance I had built upon earlier. If I fell sick, no amount of money and time can compensate for it. I won’t be able to spend time with my family with all constant health worries and concerns, what more thrive in my work?
Family comes second in my life values.
Over time, I also realised the importance of having my closed and loved ones by my side because they were the ones who were always there when I needed them most, and I want to share my happy moments in their presence as well. It was not the case when I was younger. When I was a teenager, friends were more important to me and I valued their opinions more than the advice my parents gave me. As we grew up and went separate ways, I then realised friends come and go (even though a few are here to stay), but your family will always, always be there for you even if you quarrelled and fought with them.
Thirdly, I chose Integrity because I believe in living life true to ourselves. What good is living a life of looking good on the outside when you are not real to yourself. I also cannot accept deception, which I found out through my emotional reactions from various circumstances along the way.
Also, because I love reading, learning and challenging work, I am always seeking for any and every opportunities to explore and learn new things, go on adventures trips and keep pushing myself to achieve excellence at work and in life.
In Conclusion 
Life is not without principles.
When you live without your values, you are easily swayed by the opinion of others. And opinions may be just that, no importance or weight on their words. It may not even be what they think valuable or important to themselves.
Once you set your foot on what you value and let your life be guided by them, you will find certain life decisions are easier to make.
For instance, you will know which subjects to choose to go for, which CCAs you will be more inclined to try, even choosing the activities you do in your free time.
Also, know that this does not mean you will live a smooth life with no worries or crossroads to decide from now.
There will still be times when you cannot make decisions easily because of the implications your decision may bring to yourself and/or others, or because of constraints in some aspects like environment, financials, regulation and others.
Holding on too tight to what you value too much may also not always be a good thing either. You may end up hurting yourself or others.
Ultimately, let it be the anchor in your life where you can always come back to, and be the direction bearer for you as guidance; but also know when to let loose a little and you might reap more than you think or find out more about yourself along the process.
Read Next Step: Know Yourself Better with SWOT
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