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A Good Choice vs A Bad Choice

Image by Jon Tyson

Think of a good choice that you have made recently.

Now think of a bad one, or not so good one.

What do you see has made the difference between the two?

A simple way to see it is through the lens of your personal values. You have your own set of personal values that’s unique to you. Here are some examples of personal values: swimming, reading, laughter, gaming, animals, coffee, control, autonomy, money, family, chess, dancing, yoga, meditation, appreciation, change, poetry, integrity, fun, peace, generosity, action contemplation, ease, speed…

A personal value is anything that’s important to the person.

As simple as it sounds, identifying personal values requires a great deal of self-honesty. Because there might be some values that we wish we have, we call these Aspired Values, but in reality what’s important to us now could be something completely different, and that’s what we call Actual Values.

Of course you can always update your Actual Values and make your way towards your Aspired Values. Just remember, that for now, your choices are driven by your Actual Values.

As a rule of thumb, you feel satisfaction when your Actual Values are being honored, and frustration when they have been stepped on or violated.

Life brings different people our way and calls us to deal with a variety of situations. As a result, we develop a multitude of values to help us fulfill our responsibilities and be happy. Because of this variety we may have contradicting values. Depending on what we’re dealing with, a certain set of values comes to the foreground while the rest are parked aside. So one person may have two contradicting values, each is important at a certain time. It is often the case.

For example, Diana has both values of friendship and alone time. Usually she enjoys time on her own when she comes back from work on weekdays. On weekends though, she meets up with her friends and plans some fun activities together. What do you think could happen if she doesn’t balance these two? Burnout maybe?!

In relationships, aligning choices with personal values and with others can get challenging, but not necessarily. Making agreements and setting boundaries here can go a long way.

Most people, go through their day unaware of which set of values are honored in a given moment. Which puts them at risk of being reactive to what comes their way rather than owning their freedom to choose. It’s true that reaction is necessary for our survival, but it’ll always get in the way of us thriving.

Becoming aware of your Actual Personal Values, and aligning your every choice with those values, not just increases your probability of getting what you want, but also helps you stay at peace and satisfied in the process even if you don’t end up getting what you want.

So align first before you take or decline anything, any thought, any suggestion, any offer, any action or impulse.

I invite you to list your values now using the following questions:


  1. Remember a peak experience where you felt really good. What happened then? What was good about it?

  2. Remember a frustrating experience. What happened then? What was frustrating?

  3. What’s your favorite movie? What do you like about it?

  4. Who’s your role model? What do you appreciate about him/her?

  5. What’s your favorite activity? What’s exciting about it?

  6. What’s your favorite spot on earth? What do you love about it?

  7. List your top 10 priorities in your life today.

Please note that there are hundreds of questions you could ask yourself to identify your values. The above are just good to get you started if you haven’t already.

Read your answers and derive your values from what you have just expressed there. Congrats! Now you have some personal values defined. Use this list to keep yourself in check when frustration arises, you will see which values are being stepped on, then it becomes clear where to make amends.

Align before you take or decline.

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