Do you remember that moment when you finally gained clarity around your key values?
I do. I remember feeling like everything finally made sense: why I had made certain choices in the past, why certain situations bored me, why I was drawn to some people and repelled by others.
Best of all was that it allowed me to look ahead and design my life in a way that I know will ‘hit the spot.’ Understanding your values is key to self-leadership and finding meaning in life.
Admittedly, it was not a singular revelation, but a gradual process for which I relied heavily on the wisdom and support of my coach.
Nowadays, I help others identify their values, and it is one of my favorite and most rewarding parts of my profession. Here are 25 worksheets you can use to facilitate that change in your clients.
Before you continue, you might like to download our three Meaning and Valued Living Exercises for free. These creative, science-based exercises will help you learn more about your values, motivations, and goals and will give you the tools to inspire a sense of meaning in the lives of your clients, students, or employees.
This Article Contains:
- 4 Best Values Worksheets
- 4 ACT Values Worksheets
- 4 Ways to Identify Core Values
- 3 Sheets for Value Clarification
- For Exploring Relationship Values
- Values Inventory Worksheets
- Relevant CBT PDFs
- Comprehensive List of Values
- 3 Exercises to Explore Values With Others
- Meaning and Valued Living Masterclass Tools
- A Take-Home Message
4 Best Values Worksheets
Values are stable, general beliefs about what is desirable (Feather, 1992).
In the Sailboat Metaphor, we visualize values as a steering wheel; they determine the direction we want to take. The metaphor illustrates the cost of being oblivious to our values and presents the opportunity to understand them. When we identify our values, we know where we are headed and can determine our life goals accordingly.
These days, you can find an abundance of values worksheets online. To save you time, we’ve collected a recommended selection of four.
1. The Top 5 Values
Trying to understand one’s values for the first time can be difficult, even confrontational. Value inventories contain a list of common values and offer inspiration to identify and prioritize personal values.
The Top 5 Values tool contains a list of 120 values. First, we ask clients to brainstorm what’s important to them without referring to the list. Then they’re prompted to expand on their values by considering the list. The exercise closes by asking the client to rank the top five values and reflect on the personal meaning behind and reason for choosing each.
2. Value Cards
Value Cards can be used both individually and in groups. The client is handed a pack of 42 cards, each describing a value (+ additional blank ‘wild’ cards). After taking some time to study them, clients are prompted to pick five that represent them most accurately.
Afterward, the cards can be used to describe the personal meaning behind them, reflect on which one needs the most work, identify the most important one, and so forth.
3. The Bull’s-Eye Values Survey
The Bull’s-Eye Values Survey aims to understand values across different life domains: work/education, leisure, relationships, and personal growth/health (Lundgren, Luoma, Dahl, Strosahl, & Melin, 2012).
It prompts clients to identify what needs to change in order for them to maximize their lived values across all four domains. It then explores potential barriers and an action plan.
If you want to help your client find their ikigai, try the Finding Your Ikigai tool. Ikigai is a Japanese expression that can be loosely translated as “meaning and purpose.” The idea is that ikigai can be found at the intersection of our passion, mission, vocation, and profession (García, Miralles, & Cleary, 2017).
4 ACT Values Worksheets
Supporting clients in identifying their core values is of central importance in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), as it forms the foundation of self-congruent goal setting.
While individuals are naturally inclined to avoid uncomfortable thoughts and emotions, in ACT, clients are supported to embrace them, using a number of diffusion techniques and mindfulness practices.
Then, clients are aided in choosing more constructive behavior based on their values. The approaches to identifying values don’t generally differ from those used in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), coaching, or counseling approaches.
If you are interested in ACT worksheets, you can read our article 21 ACT Worksheets and Ways to Apply Acceptance & Commitment Therapy.
Another resource for ACT worksheets is the ACTMindfully website. The website was developed by Dr. Russ Harris, a leading authority on ACT and author of several books on the topic.
The following ACT worksheets contain exercises to identify and harness the power of values for decision making.
1. Choice Point
The Choice Point worksheet helps clients explore their behavior in challenging or difficult situations. Often, those situations trigger challenging thoughts and emotions that have been learned in the past but may not be aligned with how we should respond.
Choice Point supports clients in identifying those thoughts and emotions (so-called hooks) and prompts them to identify how they can use their strengths, skills, and values to respond in a more constructive and desired way.
2. Passengers on the Bus
Passengers on the Bus is a group exercise in which clients practice accepting and dealing with difficult thoughts and emotions that may occur while acting in line with their values.
3. Values and Problems
The Values and Problems worksheet invites clients to reflect on four concepts that are central to ACT: problematic thoughts and emotions, problematic behaviors, values and goals, and actionable steps.
4. Values Questionnaire and Worksheet
This Values Questionnaire prompts clients to describe their values across 10 life domains as well as rate their importance, their success in having realized them, and their priority in terms of requiring action steps.
4 Ways to Identify Core Values
While we all usually have a multitude of values, there are some that are so important to us that they affect most of our actions and choices. Those are our core values – our most fundamental guiding principles of all.
Core values express what we stand for in life. They explain the decisions we make at significant choice points in our lives. They govern our relationships in the way we interact and choose our network. And, they explain those moments in which we feel centered, whole, and deeply satisfied in life.
Here are four worksheets you can use to support your clients in identifying their core values.
1. Prioritizing Personal Values
Prioritizing Personal Values is similar to the Top 5 Values worksheet mentioned earlier. You can use it when working with clients who already understand the concept of values.
The tool begins with a prompt to reflect on personal values as well as a short list. Clients can then rank their top 10 by comparing the importance of each value against the others. Once the top five values are identified, the tool offers guidance for a reflective exercise about them.
2. The Values Timeline
The Values Timeline can be used to help clients become aware of the changing nature of values over the course of their life.
Clients are invited to compare their current top five values with values they may have had in earlier stages of their life. The Values Timeline also provides an opportunity for clients to intentionally adjust their values according to the benefits they provide.
3. The Before-You-Die Bucket List
Have you ever asked yourself (or your client) what they would do, with whom, and why, if they found out they only had a year to live? That is exactly what the Before-You-Die Bucket List is about.
Although clients are directed to write a bucket list, the purpose of this exercise is not to develop a list of goals for the client, but rather to invite them to reflect on the meaning and importance of each item.
In this way, clients are guided to identify their underlying values. The exercise closes with a reflection and prompt to consider small actionable steps to implement their values in daily life.
4. A Value Tattoo
A Value Tattoo is a fun, creative, and playful way to explore values more indirectly. In this exercise, clients are asked to imagine or draft a hypothetical tattoo for themselves.
The meaning of the tattoo is then discussed and underlying themes (i.e., values) identified. The tool finishes with a reflection on how their values are presently realized with strategies to align more closely with them.
3 Sheets for Value Clarification
We all understand and interpret values in our own way.
Becoming aware that not everyone feels the same about the plethora of qualities out there helps to understand the subjectivity and individuality of values in people.
1. Completing Sentences
The Completing Sentences to Clarify Values sheet prompts clients to reflect on values by asking them to complete sentences covering topics across all major life domains:
- Money and finance
- Career and work
- Health and fitness
- Fun and leisure
- Growth and learning
An example sentence is ‘Growth and learning are important to me because…’ Afterward, clients are prompted to reflect and discuss their answers in a guided manner.
2. The Values Vision Board
The Values Vision Board is a creative worksheet asking clients to prepare a board that visually represents their values as images, illustrations, and/or words.
The Values Vision Board exercise also offers discussion points for subsequent evaluation.
3. 60 Seconds
60 Seconds Value Pitch is a fun exercise to reflect on the top three core values.
Clients are asked to reflect on the personal meaning behind their core values and to develop a value pitch. In 60 seconds, they must share why they could not live without their values, how their values benefit them, and the key moments that shaped them.
For Exploring Relationship Values
Core Values in Romantic Relationships is a tool that lets couples explore congruence between each other’s values and pathways to translate the values into tangible experiences. It emphasizes the importance of understanding and living in harmony with each other’s values for the satisfaction and health of the relationship.
Through a sequence of instructions and questions, this tool takes couples through the process of understanding their individual core values, ranking their importance, identifying the current expression of those values in daily life, and opportunities to increase value congruence.
Values Inventory Worksheets
Values inventory worksheets make a substantial source of inspiration for novices.
Clients who have never actively explored their values may have a hard time naming their own.
Values inventory worksheets offer inspiration in the form of vocabulary as they list commonly mentioned values. While the length of inventories differs across worksheets, they usually prompt clients to expand on their interpretation of each chosen value and sort them in order of importance.
Some values inventory worksheets explore general life values, such as the Top 5 Values Worksheet or the Values Inventory, while others focus on values pertaining to particular life domains, such as the Work Values Inventory and the Financial Inventory Worksheet.
Relevant CBT PDFs
In CBT, identifying values is an important aspect of determining meaningful therapeutic goals together with the client. Research has shown that this is a vital step for patients to feel validated and heard (Brabban, Byrne, Longden, & Morrison, 2017).
CBT therapists support their clients in understanding the links between our interpretations (i.e., cognitions) of a situation and the resulting emotions and behaviors. Values play a critical role in these associations, as they shape the way we interpret situations (Vyskocilova et al., 2016). This Values and CBT tool provides an easy-to-understand example of this concept.
You can also read this article about value clarification and how it pertains to positive CBT. The Personal Goals and Values Exercise from thinkcbt.com is a helpful tool to identify short, medium, and long-term goals based on one’s values.
Comprehensive List of Values
By now you are probably well aware that there is no such thing as a comprehensive list of values. But, if you are looking for a solid list of values to inspire your clients, you may consider the Top 5 Values worksheet, containing 120 values. Alternatively, here is a list of 569 values.
3 Exercises to Explore Values With Others
Exploring values together with others can be a wonderful way to get to know each other and build trust.
The Team Branding exercise was developed specifically for work teams. It aims to facilitate a base from which teams can develop group identity.
In an entertaining way, it prompts groups of four to seven to ponder and discuss their group members’ roles in the team and different quality aspects of the team.
The results from each group are collated, discussed, and then used for several creative exercises deepening team identification and spirit.
The team branding exercise can be wonderfully complemented with the Value Cards exercise described earlier.
The 60 Second Value Pitch mentioned above can also be extended for a creative group activity.
Once each person has made their pitch, each value is written on a sticky note and displayed for everyone to see. Afterward, everyone selects four values from the collection that resonated with them the most. The exercise concludes with a guided discussion around the lessons learned and how the newly chosen values may serve the group.
Meaning and Valued Living Masterclass Tools
Our Meaning and Valued Living Masterclass© is a step-by-step virtual course empowering coaches, psychologists, and other helping professionals to identify values and create meaning in the lives of their clients.
The course is evidence based and divided into three modules: the Sailboat Metaphor, meaning, and valued living. Lessons on meaning include:
- The problem of meaning
- Meaning defined
- Different kinds of meaning
- The paradox of meaning
- How meaning arises
- How to find meaning
- Helping others find meaning
The valued living classes include topics such as
- Introducing values
- Awareness of values (attention)
- Beliefs about values (thoughts)
- Motives behind values (motivation)
- Value expression (actions)
The course is self-paced and includes all you need to help your clients, including PowerPoint presentations, worksheets, a handbook, illustrations, exercises, references, live recordings, resource recommendations, train-the-trainer instructions, and support materials. You also get access to a complimentary set of 17 intuitive meaning and valued living exercises.
If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others discover meaning, this collection contains 17 validated meaning tools for practitioners. Use them to help others choose directions for their lives in alignment with what is truly important to them.
A Take-Home Message
Supporting clients with tools to identify, understand, and work with their core values is a rewarding experience both for therapists/coaches and clients alike. Being equipped with a plethora of different tools enables you to respond to the different requirements of the client.
Once clients have identified their core values, there are plenty of worksheets to reflect on them, prioritize them, and identify opportunities to translate them into real-life goals. This will empower clients to create changes in their lives that are truly meaningful to them.
As writer and philosopher Ayn Rand (1964) put it:
“Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s value.”
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Meaning and Valued Living Exercises for free.
- Brabban, A., Byrne, R., Longden, E., & Morrison, A. P. (2017). The importance of human relationships, ethics and recovery-orientated values in the delivery of CBT for people with psychosis. Psychosis, 9(2), 157–166.
- Feather, N. T. (1992). Values, valences, expectations, and actions. Journal of Social Issues, 48(2), 109–124.
- García, H., Miralles, F., & Cleary, H. (2017). Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and happy life. Penguin Books.
- Lundgren, T., Luoma, J. B., Dahl, J., Strosahl, K., & Melin, L. (2012). The Bull’s-Eye Values Survey: A psychometric evaluation. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 19(4), 518–526.
- Rand, A. & Branden, N. (1964). The virtue of selfishness: A new concept of egoism. New American Library.
- Vyskocilova, J., Prasko, J., Ociskova, M., Sedlackova, Z., Marackova, M., Holubova, M., … Slepecky, M. (2016). Values and values work in cognitive behavioral therapy. European Psychiatry, 33(S1), S456–S457.
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What our readers think
I love short and sweetly packed bombs like this
Excellent matter for every human being, and thank you for initiating as well as sharing the knowledge with humility.
Thank you so much, Lucinda! I really hope so – it was such a pivotal moment when I finally understood my own values 🙂
Love this post, Maike! I’m sure you will help many others discover their values with these resources. 🙂