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What does it mean to have personal values?

July 27, 2022 - 16 min read


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What is the meaning of personal values?

Why are personal values important?

8 benefits of personal values

10 types of personal values

How to find your personal values

The importance of adapting your values

How do personal values affect our professional lives?

Moving forward

Whether you’re deciding to make a career change or trying to find time for self-care, defining your personal values can help. But what’s the meaning of personal values, and how can you find your own? 

You may not have a list of personal values written down. However, over the years, you’ve likely made choices to prioritize what you find important in life. For example, you might value reaching certain work milestones over achieving your fitness goals. 

Let’s say you have a new job offer with a demanding schedule, but it could grow your career in amazing ways. If you place a high value on your work goals, you should say yes, even if it means stepping back from the 5K run you were training for. 

There are no right or wrong personal values, but you should be aware of the way they impact your decisions. That way you can make sure you’re always choosing the path that gets you closer to your long-term goals

Our true values can’t and shouldn’t be suppressed. They make life fulfilling and give us a better sense of self-awareness. Without clear values, you might struggle with self-discovery — the process of finding your true self.

As a result, you may find it hard to make decisions, advance your career, or live a meaningful life.  

Knowing the meaning of personal values can change your life. However, defining them for yourself takes a bit of intention and effort. Let’s dive into what personal values are and how you can find yours.


What is the meaning of personal values?

Personal values influence our actions, relationships, and overall lives. Our values also guide us as we make big decisions and can influence our personal development

When you know your values, your career, personal relationships, and hobbies will reflect what matters most to you. This could help your life feel more fulfilling. In fact, engaging with activities in line with your values can help with depression and anxiety and improve your mental well-being.

Plus, having a career that reflects your values will make you more passionate about your job. This will ultimately help you succeed in your work because you’ll have a deeper motivation to do well. 

So how do you know what your personal values are? Your culture, childhood upbringing, and life experiences can all impact your personal values. They can develop at any stage of life and evolve over time.

Everyone has a unique set of values. What matters to you might not align with your friends and coworkers. That said, we are more likely to share our personal core values with the people closest to us. Research shows that we might even be more attracted to people who share our values.

You can express your values differently depending on who you are. For example, two people may share the personal value of community. One might practice this by organizing food drives. The other might plan a block party for their neighborhood. These are both valid expressions of the same values.

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Why are personal values important?

It’s important to know the meaning of personal values because they can change how you live your life. Our personal values help us be our authentic selves and have a greater sense of purpose. They drive our personalities, goal setting, and how we take action in life. 

Our values also give us a better understanding of who we are. They’ll lead us to set goals that work towards our dreams instead of against them. When you make decisions in line with your personal values, you’ll feel like your truest self. 

Personal values are important for our relationships, too. When we know how to articulate our values, our relationships with friends and even coworkers will be healthier.


Knowing your personal values will help you express what you need better to the people in your life. This is important because repressing our emotions can have harmful effects.

Plus, knowing the meaning of personal values can help you look out for friends and coworkers who share yours. Having a social network that shares our values can make your relationships more meaningful and supportive.

How can personal values improve self-awareness?

Alongside the other benefits, knowing your personal values will increase your self-awareness. Self-awareness is and forever will be necessary for your growth. Our personal values keep us in touch with our goals, interests, and limits. 

They can show us what we want to achieve professionally and personally in life. Without personal values, we won’t know what we want to achieve or what we are capable of achieving.


Self-knowledge is the first step to self-improvement. If we don’t have a solid understanding of what we value, we also won’t be able to advocate for ourselves. We’ll struggle to stand up for ourselves or admit when we’re wrong.

The self-awareness you gain through personal values will help you make better decisions, further your personal development, and strengthen your relationships.

8 benefits of personal values

Personal values touch every aspect of our lives. Besides improving your self-awareness and relationships, here are eight ways knowing the meaning of personal values can benefit your life:

  1. Boosts your self-confidence
  2. Helps you create long-term goals, not just short-term goals
  3. Gives you a greater sense of what your ambitions and career goals are
  4. Helps you manage your stress level since you’ll know how to focus on what’s most important
  5. Gives you a better sense of clarity about the present and future
  6. Encourages you to be more assertive and work hard for your dreams
  7. Builds up your resilience during challenging times since you’ll have a deeper motivation to keep going
  8. Makes you feel more satisfied with your choices and surroundings since you know they’re in alignment with your deeper values

10 types of personal values

You might not know what beliefs and values are important to you yet. That’s okay. It can take time to understand the meaning of personal values and what yours are. 


You might have a dozen personal values or just a few. You might also rank them according to their importance. However you choose to define your personal values, the most important thing is to make sure you live by them. 

If you want to know what some examples of personal values are, these can help:

  1. Family
  2. Courage
  3. Creativity
  4. Professional achievements
  5. Kindness
  6. Independence
  7. Health
  8. Honesty
  9. Loyalty
  10. Determination

How to find your personal values

You can choose your personal values intentionally — however, they may also naturally develop as a result of your upbringing or culture. But even if you know how personal values are formed, you might not know where to start looking for yours. 

Here are six tips to help you find your personal values:

  1. Get to know yourself better by going on a journey of self-discovery
  2. Identify the biggest priorities in your life right now
  3. Limit distractions and other influences that try to tell you what you should value
  4. Reflect on times when you were the most at ease and your well-being was at its best
  5. Think back to when you felt like something was missing, like teamwork, more independence, or more assertiveness
  6. Create a personal vision statement for your future and look to identify the values within your statement

The importance of adapting your values

Life is constantly changing, so it makes sense for our personal values to evolve, too. At any time, you could be offered a new job, decide to start a family or move on from toxic relationships. Our values need to adapt just as we need to learn to adapt to these changes.

Your values might shift in priority, too. Depending on your current situation, your values could look completely different. Where you once thought of family as something you appreciated, it could become the center of your life when you decide to have a child. 

That’s why we need to get into the habit of checking in and re-evaluating our personal values. This is the best way to make sure we continue our personal growth. We might miss out on new opportunities and experiences if we don’t adapt as time goes on.

How do personal values affect our professional lives?

Our personal values aren’t limited to our personal lives. In fact, knowing the meaning of personal values can have a profound impact on your professional life. 

Let’s say one of your values is loyalty. This could impact your dependability at work and make you a reliable, trustworthy employee.

Being a loyal employee will help you move forward on your career path — your managers might recommend you for promotions, for example. 

Or, you could value your well-being more than anything else. This could lead you to focus on making sure that you don’t burn yourself out at work. That in itself is a trait that your team will recognize and appreciate, as it makes you more reliable in the long term. 


Think about it this way: How could valuing things like confidence, determination, and perseverance affect your professional life? Our personal values influence who we are, so naturally, they shape what kind of employee or leader we are.

Moving forward

Values come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of importance. Finding our values takes sustained effort. They aren’t always as straightforward as we think. But they’re always with us, guiding our decisions and influencing our actions.

Now that you know the meaning of personal values, you can take the first steps to identify yours.

Committing to uncovering what we value in life will always pay off. We’ll have a greater sense of purpose, a better understanding of ourselves, and be able to make decisions that help us achieve what we want in life. 

If you need extra support as you try to live out your personal values, BetterUp can help. With some extra guidance and the right tools, you can discover your values and become the best version of yourself.

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Published July 27, 2022

Elizabeth Perry

Content Marketing Manager, ACC

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