A Powerful 10-Minute Exercise to Clarify Your Values

Every choice we make or don’t make is driven by our values.

Jason R. Waller
Ascent Publication
Published in
4 min readJun 16, 2020


Photo by Amandine Lerbscher on Unsplash

I love working on individual values. All the choices I make — or don’t make — are driven in one way or another by my values. When I’m upset, it’s usually because my values are being trampled on. When I’m anxious or nervous, it’s usually because I’m not living in alignment with my values.

Values matter, but I don’t always have a crystal-clear view of what they are or which are really important to me. Which means that I’m not always crystal clear about my decisions and feelings. I believe that a deep understanding of our values is the core of self-awareness.

So how can we get just a little more clear about what our values are?

Mining for Values

The only way we can get closer to our values, to understanding our values, is to make them more conscious. Meditation, prayer, reflecting, journaling — this is all meaningful work that can help us bring our values into focus. I’ve written about three other exercises that I find really helpful:

  1. The Life Map exercise is a great way to take stock of the past. Take 20 minutes to draw out your life’s ups and downs from birth to present. And don’t stop there, reflect and ask “What did this bad experience give me?” “What did this great part of my life give me?”
  2. The 80th Birthday Party exercise allows us to step into the future. It’s pretty quick, but a powerful visualization exercise where you simply imagine what your 80th birthday would be like. Who would be there, what would they say about you? What mark would you want to leave on them?
  3. The Who Am I exercise is one of my favorites because it’s focused on the right here, right now. And it’s one of the best ways of mining for values and purpose. It takes a bit more effort, but it’s worth it. All you need is some free time and 10 blank sheets of paper.

But now I’m going to talk about a very simple, very straightforward exercise to help us mine for our values.

The Values Downselect Exercise

This exercise is useful for those of us who are a bit more practical. I like it for…



Jason R. Waller
Ascent Publication

Executive coach to CEOs and leaders. Partner at evolution.team. Speaker, combat veteran, ex-consultant. Top writer in Leadership. www.jasonrwaller.com