Valued Living

I wanted to do a quick post to clarify what it means to live by your core values, what we’ll call “Valued Living”.

Valued Living is essentially the same thing has having consistent integrity. It means that your actions, and the intentions behind them, regularly align with your core values.

Core Values are your principles; your moral code; the type of conduct that you’d be most proud of if you lived by it. You can discover your core values through the exercise in this podcast here.

Too many of us are hypocrites. We virtue-signal the “right” way to live but fail to consistently practice it ourselves. We don’t walk the talk. And this is why we lack self-confidence.

Feeling like you’re a moral or integral person doesn’t matter if your behaviour defies the feeling. It’s what you do that matters and is measurable, not what you think and feel.

The system for practical valued living is fairly simple:

First, you discover what your core values are. These must be principles that you can live by at any time simply by choice, and are completely under your control. Things like honesty, courage, compassion, responsibility, acceptance, and curiosity.

Avoid concepts that depend on outside situations, like family, wealth, or external success. Core values should be concepts that only need your own cooperation.

Secondly, you must define what these values mean, in such a way that they can easily be translated into practical actions. There’s no point in having a value if you don’t know what it means to DO it right here and now.

For example, I define “honesty” as: saying what I’m actually thinking, and doing what I believe is the right thing to do, regardless of the consequences.

As you can see with this example, you could put me in any situation and tell me to be honest, and I’d know exactly what to say or do.

Some other examples:

“Courage” could be: to identify the behaviour that’s healthy but I’m uncomfortable doing it, and do it anyway.

“Curiosity” could be: to search for different perspectives to my own so that I can learn more accurate truths.

“Compassion” could be: to seek empathy by identifying what another person feels, and then behave respectfully based on that knowledge.

Once you have working definitions for each of your values, you then need to train yourself to live by them. This is the tricky bit.

I recommend keeping a list of your values and their definitions somewhere readily available, like on your phone. Then, every 2 hours or so, have an alarm or reminder go off to prompt you to read your list.

You then answer two questions:

“Which of these values is most relevant to the situation I’m currently in?”

And then, once you’ve chosen a value…

“What action can I take that would align with this value to the best of my ability?”

You won’t always have clear answers and sometimes you’ll need to guess. The point is not perfection, but practice. As often as possible, try to consciously align your actions with your values.

Then, at the end of the day or whenever best suits you, journal about your attempts. Note the two or three most interesting or difficult valued living efforts you made that day, and critique yourself fairly on the attempts.

If you tried your best to consciously live by a value then that’s a win, no matter how “badly” it went. A loss is when you knew what you were supposed to do, but for whatever reason chose something that you knew was a breach of your values instead.

Practice this every day, and try to learn from your wins and losses. Try to increase your integrity a little bit each week. Set yourself valued living challenges with pre-planned actions that you know will have integrity, e.g. “At today’s team meeting I’ll share my new idea even though I’m scared that they’ll judge me”.

And bit by bit, you’ll find yourself more “on track”, more self-confident, and more sure of who you are and what your purpose is.

And THAT is valued living.


For more support on living with integrity, especially discovering your values and finding the courage hacks to allow you to live by them, get in touch to talk about potential coaching options.

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