Discovering our core values is an essential step in each person’s journey of self-awareness, personal growth, and fulfillment.
Sadly, many of us live and work on autopilot, knowing when situations don’t feel right but not really understanding why. Values act as a compass, guiding our actions and decisions, and helping shape our priorities.
By understanding what matters to us, we can align our choices with our values and find greater meaning, purpose, and satisfaction. We can do less of what does not align with our values and build new habits that generate increased alignment with what is most important. Discovering our values will not necessarily cause us to quit our jobs, leave a spouse, or experience a crisis. Instead, being able to clearly assess what is important will provide insight — or self-awareness — which can help us shift to a more purposeful way of living.
We are big fans of self-assessment tools that help people gain insight. Personality profiles are valuable (think MBTI and Strengths Finder) but what they lack is the ability to help people discover their real essence — their driving force — which are core values.
In this blog post, we will explore the importance of values assessments, their history, research into their effectiveness, and provide a comprehensive list of free values assessments currently available, including the exciting new Values App Assessment by the Values Institute.
Why Discover Your Values?
Some people are resistant to change. Some resist feedback, which may be seen as critical. This resistance might prevent someone from discovering their real values while holding onto destructive values. This is similar to not going to the doctor because you don’t want to find out what is wrong.
Discard this mindset, fellow traveler, because all good things in life come from a little self-reflection. Introspection without a toolkit can be a wonderful process, but we’re all busy people, so using an assessment designed by qualified researchers will dramatically expedite the process. Here are just a few benefits of discovering your values.
- Self-awareness: Knowing your core values can lead to a deeper understanding of yourself, your motivations, and your passions. This self-awareness empowers you to make decisions that are true to who you are and what you believe in.
- Goal setting and decision-making: By understanding your values, you can set meaningful and achievable goals that align with your priorities. Values-driven decision-making can lead to increased satisfaction and success in both your personal and professional life.
- Relationships: Understanding your values can improve your relationships with others. Knowing what matters most to you can help you navigate conflicts, appreciate differences, and foster meaningful connections.
Brief History of Values Assessments
For thousands of years, people have contemplated how human values emerge. However, the formal study of values dates back to the early 20th century, with psychologists like Carl Jung and Abraham Maslow exploring the concept of individual values and their impact on human behavior. It was not until the 1960s that values assessments began to take shape, with the work of social psychologist Milton Rokeach. Rokeach’s groundbreaking “Rokeach Value Survey” laid the foundation for numerous other values assessments that followed.
Research into Values Assessments
Research has shown that values assessments can be an effective tool for promoting self-awareness, enhancing motivation, and guiding personal development. A study by Feather (1975) found that the Rokeach Value Survey had cross-cultural validity, indicating its effectiveness in assessing values across diverse populations. Another study by Meglino and Ravlin (1998) discovered that individuals with strong values congruence (alignment between personal and organizational values) were more likely to exhibit positive work behaviors, such as cooperation and commitment. Furthermore, research by Sagiv and Schwartz (2000) revealed a relationship between values and well-being, with individuals prioritizing self-transcendence values reporting higher levels of well-being than those prioritizing self-enhancement values.
So the evidence is clear: we should all understand our values. The question is: how can we discover our values for free? See the list below.
Free Values Assessments
- The Schwartz Values Survey: Developed by Shalom H. Schwartz, this assessment identifies ten basic human values that guide our actions and decisions. The survey is available in multiple languages and has been used in numerous research studies.
- The Values App Assessment by the Values Institute: This innovative new tool features 16 categories and 96 values, offering a comprehensive and personalized exploration of your core values. With a modern interface and ongoing support resources, including videos and micro-habits advice, the Values App Assessment is an invaluable tool for personal growth.
- VIA Character Strengths Survey: This assessment, based on the work of psychologists Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson, focuses on 24 character strengths that reflect our core values. The survey is free and provides detailed feedback on your top strengths.
- The Personal Values Assessment (PVA): Developed by the Barrett Values Centre, this assessment helps you identify your core values from a list of 10 value categories. The PVA provides a free, personalized report with insights into how your values influence your decision-making and overall well-being.
- The Life Values Inventory: Co-developed by Dr. Kelly Crace and Dr. Clayton Lafferty, this comprehensive assessment measures your values in five life domains: personal, family, work, health, and community. The Life Values Inventory provides a personalized report that helps you understand the connection between your values and life satisfaction.
- The Core Values Index (CVI): While the full CVI assessment is not free, Taylor Protocols offers a free, abbreviated version that provides a brief overview of your core values. The CVI focuses on identifying your innate, unchanging nature, and offers insights into your strengths, challenges, and motivational drivers.
Values-aligned action serves as a powerful driver of fulfillment and well-being. By consciously choosing actions that align with our core values, we create a sense of harmony between our beliefs, priorities, and behaviors. This alignment fosters a deep sense of authenticity and purpose, leading to more meaningful experiences and a stronger connection to our true selves.
When we consistently engage in values-aligned actions, we lay the foundation for personal growth and the realization of our potential. This is why the Values App has such a strong focus on turning values into habits.
The output of living in accordance with our values is a life marked by greater satisfaction, balance, and a genuine sense of fulfillment. By utilizing one of these free values assessments, you can gain valuable insights into what truly matters to you, and use that knowledge to guide your decisions, set meaningful goals, and build stronger relationships.
Empirical research supports the efficacy of values assessments in various aspects of human life, ranging from personal well-being to organizational performance and career decision-making. Don’t wait—start your journey of self-discovery today by trying the Values App or one of the other assessments mentioned in this blog post.