‘Values’ may be one of the most frequently used words we hear today, and yet bringing our values to the forefront of everything we do still does not happen as much as it should for our own good and well-being.

The ironic part about this is that we can’t turn them off; we don’t leave our values at work, or keep them only at home. Our values come with us wherever we go, and in whatever we do, for our values determine our behavior.

Considering they are always part of your psyche and your inner power, how much do you get out of your values on a daily basis? What is your usual ROV, your Return on Values?

Most of us will answer that whatever it is now, we’d like it to be higher, for values are inherently good by nature. If I share a simple listing of universally held values with you, you’d likely say that you want to have them all!

There is a simple exercise I do with people to help them get the highest possible return on their own values. It has the added benefit of focusing on their strengths, and connecting the two. This is what we do:

1. Out of a list of 46 different values, they will choose the 7 they feel the strongest about, the ones that first seem to jump off the page at them as the ones they want to be able to feel a closer connection to. These are the values they want to invest in for a return.

2. Next to those 7, we’ll write a very simple action they will commit to doing, that is connected to that value andto one of their strengths. For example:

- Humility and Modesty. “Self-reflection is one of my strengths, by nature I think before I speak. Today I will focus on the opportunity to give credit where credit is due to someone else sincerely, consciously shaping my demeanor of humility and modesty.”

- Appreciation and Gratitude. “I am perceptive at picking out those basic elements which make processes work. Today, I will focus on the people connections in those basic elements, and be sure I voice my appreciation and gratitude to those involved.”

- Health and Balance. “Once I decide to do something, I have great stick-to-it-ness; tenacity is my strength. Today I am clearing my morning schedule to begin that yoga program I’ve had my eye on but haven’t yet taken action to start.”

3. Next we’ll assign each VSA (value-strength action) to a day in the coming week, choosing the day it makes the most sense to do it because of the complete day’s framing of all other activities, i.e. we set them up for their best chance of success. On that particular day, that VSA will be their priority to complete.

4. They keep score. From week to week they count up the simple hashmarks they put next to the letters VSA on their calendar. VSA/7= their ROV for the week.

Try it, and you’ll see what a great sense of accomplishment you get. There will be supreme satisfaction in those VSA hashmarks you make! Here’s the list of 46 values you can choose from. ValueList4Lifehack.org

Postscript: Help me collect positive, affirming values for my list would you? Drop a comment here if you think of a value I haven’t included.

Related reading:
Ho‘omau: Reveal Strengths and Talents
Let’s define “values.”

Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is also the founder and head coach of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership.

Rosa’s Previous Thursday Column was: A Brave Email Experiment.

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