The Importance of Being Clear About Your Life  & Work Values and Needs

Clarity about your values and needs can help create a strong life foundation, give you a basis for decision making in life and work  and improve life work balance!

For clarity and common understanding:

Values:  Values are the essence of who we are.  Values are principles that you hold to be of worth in your life.  Values are those things considered right, worthwhile, and desirable- the basis of guiding principles and standards.  Values tend to stay the same throughout life and provide the basis for how we live our lives.

A further distillation….

Crystal Values: a value that is so important to you that if it is not incorporated into your life causes your life to shatter.  Think of what happens if you drop a crystal ball.


Rubber Values: a value that is important but that can bounce away and then back again without you feeling dissonance.


Needs:  Needs are different than values.  A need is ‘a condition or situation in which something is required or wanted.’ (from the ‘free online dictionary’).  Needs change throughout one’s life and life situation.  There is an understanding through the coaching, psychological, emotional, social intelligence fields,  that adults are 100% responsible for ensuring their needs are met in a healthy way.


When I start working with a new coaching client, one of the first things we work on is to develop clarity about their values and needs and once there is clarity, the coaching question is:  ‘are you living your life from a foundation of clear and strongly held values or from a place of unmet needs?’  This question often catalyzes a very interesting discussion and personal growth!


The benefit of clarity in values is a strong life foundation from which to make decisions and to act as personal guidance in how you choose friends, a job, a life partner for example.

Dissonance occurs when one’s personal values are out of sync with other elements in one’s life.  A good example of this is in a work situation where an individual has a strongly held value of ‘sustainability’ and protection of the environment and then finds out that their employer is dumping toxic waste.  Another example of this type of dissonance is when a workplace has stated values, however, these are not followed and the actions of the organization are out of sync with the organizations stated values.  This type of dissonance is a common cause of work place and occupational stress.

Values dissonance in one’s personal life often  shows up  most clearly in relationships.  A personal life example of  values dissonance  is illustrated by the ‘new couple’, where one of them strongly values ‘family’ and the other strongly values ‘freedom & flexibility’.  Friction may arise when the value of ‘family’ (Sunday night dinners with the extended family) bumps up against the value of ‘freedom and flexibility’ (freedom to ‘on the spur of the moment’ take weekends off to go hiking) for example.


So, values are involved in how we live and needs are involved in how we act!


It is very common to use relationships to try to get our un-met needs met and this is very natural if one is in a relationship that is consciously agreed upon by all, for example in a friendship, a family relationship, a romantic relationship.  It gets much trickier in the work situation as the relationships are tacitly agreed upon.

Some of the classic examples are folks using their work relationships  with colleagues to meet their un-met need for ’emotional connection’ and companionship in their personal life, using an older colleague to help meet unmet needs for ‘nurturing’ from parents, using the organization to help meet unmet needs for ‘recognition’ from one’s family of origin.

You will know if someone is using you to get their un-met needs met if you feel an ‘energy drain’ in their presence, like your life force is being literally sucked right out of you.  These folks are sometimes referred to as ‘energy vampires’!  Another way to know if un-met needs are ‘at play’ is if there is a perception of conflict or edginess; the expression that is often used here is that these people are ‘growing up all over each other’, using each other to meet their needs in an unconscious way.


Benefits of having clarity on one’s needs are: you can learn to get your needs met in a respectful and honoring way by integrating them into your career/life; recognize they are a unique part of you; learn to clearly ask for what you need; feel whole and complete when you take responsibility for getting your needs met; maximize life fulfillment by honoring your needs.


Having clarity about your values and needs is the key!  Clarity leads to self awareness, self-responsibility and work life balance.

If you are a woman leader, not only do you have the personal responsibility to understand your values and needs, you have the additional responsibility of having clarity about the organization’s values and ensuring that these values are respected and followed in all actions of the organization.


Reflect on your values and needs and here’s a life and  leadership coaching tip, write it all down!  Get a special journal or create a new folder in your computer and consider: your life purpose/mission; values (both crystal and rubber); needs; what and who are the people, places, actions and activities that nourish you and deepen your life fulfillment and meaning.


in peace & mindfulness


Zoey Ryan BSc., PCC

life coaching to set your heart on fire and soothe your soul 


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