Make Better Decisions: Get Up Close and Personal With Your Core Values

Written by Darren Kanthal

February 22, 2023

Get Up Close and Personal With Your Core Values

It’s time to change the sandbox.

Those were the words my first Coach, Chrissy, said after we analyzed the results of my first-ever core values assessment.

At that exact moment, it became crystal clear to me that the life I was living, at home and the office, was in direct conflict with my values. No wonder I was terribly unhappy—bitching and moaning about life’s injustices.

Now, as a coach myself, I always tell my clients that when you live according to your values and take actions that align with them, life is pretty sweet! But on the flip side, when your values are dishonored, trampled, and misaligned with your actions, life can be a total drag, like you’re stuck in quicksand.

What Are Values, And Why Are They Important?

According to Webster’s dictionary, values are “the principles or standards of behavior that define what we believe is important in life.” Values are critical to my coaching approach and are the foundation we build on when working with clients. To me, values represent what we hold dear as individuals, both personally and professionally.

In my coaching sessions, we use our values as a North Star to navigate life and restore balance. We can use them to assess our choices and actions, asking ourselves whether they align with, respect, and honor our values.

While it’s not always that simple, using our values to make decisions can be a powerful tool. In fact, a values-driven job search is the best way I know to find satisfying and aligned work. However, applying our values can be complex and is unique to each individual. So, it’s up to you to determine what works best for you.

Here are some common values and how ignoring or sidelining them can cause internal conflict:


Suppose family is one of your top values, yet you consistently miss dinners or events because you’re working late or prioritizing other things. Do you think that might cause you to start getting resentful about work?


If teamwork is a top value, you may notice you say ‘we’ more than ‘I,’ that you’re energized when problem-solving as a group vs. alone in your office, and that you share the accolades when the team succeeds – even if you deserve some or most of the credit. On the flip side, if you value teamwork but for whatever reason you and your team tend to work in individual silos, without much or any interaction with each other, you might find your successes and accomplishments feeling flat or without a deep sense of satisfaction.

Having Leisure Time

If making sure you engage in adventure is a top value, but you’re prioritizing work over trips with your friends because a TPS report is due or because you feel you must attend a meeting—chances are you won’t be happy, and life will be out of balance.

These are just a few, simple examples to give you an idea of how we use our values. As you delve deeper into your values and how they show up in your life, it becomes more transparent and easier to identify what’s underneath your irritation and annoyance, or your joy and feelings of ease and flow of life.

For me, some of my top values are health and wellness, comfort, flexibility, freedom, and adventure. As I mentioned above about my work with Chrissy, once these values were identified, and I started to take stock of my life and my actions, it was abundantly clear that I was out of balance, misaligned, so no wonder I was deeply unhappy!

Understanding My Core Values Assessment

Core Values Assessment by Darren Kanthal

I developed my own Core Values Assessment to help individuals, teams, and even college professors uncover their core beliefs. Unlike other assessments that rely on you to rank your top 10-15 values, my approach removes bias by asking you to choose one value from a pair of options. It only takes a few minutes too!

Like magic, I wave my magic wand and, abra-cadabrapoof – my pretty cool software (if I do say so myself) creates an unbiased list of your values from the most important to the least.
Most people find that their top five values are the ones that resonate with them the most and play a significant role in their lives. Of course, it doesn’t mean your lower values aren’t important—they are! It’s essential to think of yourself holistically and understand that your personal and professional selves are interconnected. Your lower values are still a part of who you are, even if you don’t see them as often.

How My Experience With A Values Assessment Shaped My Outlook

Taking my values assessment for the first time was eye-opening. I quickly realized that the life I was living and the job I was working directly contributed to my unhappiness and uneasiness.

Before, I had this constant feeling of something being “off,” but I couldn’t quite figure out what it was until my values came into play. Once I saw how they were being disregarded, it became clear why I wasn’t living optimally, and internal conflicts were rearing their ugly head.

How Your Workplace Could Be Disrespecting Your Values

How Your Workplace Could Be Disrespecting Your Values

Based on a 2021 PEW survey, feeling disrespected at work was the third most common reason people leave their jobs. Feeling disrespected can happen when your values are being harmed. If you can identify the value that was disrespected, you can have a more meaningful conversation with the person or people being disrespectful. You can make a stronger case by providing clear examples and connecting them to your values. People may try to argue with you, but ultimately, your feelings are personal, and nobody can take them away from you.

Summing It Up

Knowing your values is critical to living a fulfilling and happy life, personally and professionally. Values provide a sense of direction and help us make decisions that align with who we are as people. Our values are critical in guiding us toward identifying what may be causing internal conflicts or feelings of unease.

Ignoring our values or having others disrespect them at work can lead to job dissatisfaction and turnover. Ultimately, when we know what we stand for, we can make better decisions and live a more fulfilling life.

Take your own core values assessment right here, and find out for yourself what drives you, and how to align your life with your core values.

Darren Kanthal

Darren Kanthal, Founder of The Kanthal Group, is a values-driven leadership and career coach with over 20 years of experience in HR and Talent Acquisition. Darren is intensely passionate about helping mid-career leaders cut through the BS, do the foundational work, and achieve their greatness.


Choose, evaluate, and rank your core values with our simple and straightforward assessment.

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