A value must meet seven criteria:

    It must be prized and cherished
    It must be chosen from among alternatives
    It must be chosen freely, without coercion
    It must be chosen after thoughtful consideration of the consequences of each alternative, not impulsively, and after careful critical thinking.
    We must be willing to publicly affirm it
    We must act on it, and act on it repeatedly
    It must be consistent with the other values we profess or claim to hold

So, do you know what you value most? What do your care about deeply and passionately? What prompts you to make decisions? Here are the steps I use with my clients to determine their core values.

Write down your core values – the ones that represent the essence of who you are. Start with a brainstorm and come up with your big long list of values. Then, go through and notice the ones that are the same or similar (ie integrity and honesty can be the same for some people).

Then, go over the list being much more selective and narrow it down to your top five or six.

Then take each value and spend a bit of time summarising what it means to you personally and why it matters. Write it down. Refine it. Play with it. Really create understanding for yourself about what is and is not important to you.

So if you have chosen honesty, write down what being honest means to you. Does it mean actually telling the deepest truth that you can in every moment? Does it mean not lying or telling half truths? Does it mean setting boundaries? Write your definition alongside each value.

Then the next step is to prioritise them. You can do this by asking yourself ‘if I could only have one thing from my money, would it be this?’ This helps you decide what really matters to you.

Finally, ask yourself how far your current spending is allowing you to honor these values. Rate each one on a scale of 1 – 10 to indicate the extent that these core values are present in your money life right now. Remember that some of your values will probably change with time so if you have a child, get married or divorced change jobs or have big life changes, try this exercise again to see what’s shifted for you.

If the ratings are low, it’s time to read: Part Three – Spending Money in Alignment with your Values!