Figuring out my values - an exercise

I often say that I surround myself with people who have similar values to my own.

Candidly, many breakups in both my friendly and romantic relationships transpired because I felt that “we just had different values”. Recently through self-reflection and soul-searching, I found myself questioning whether I’m able to succinctly articulate them. In Jenn Im's February Vlog, Jenn attended Rising Strong, a two-day personal growth workshop, where she had to specify her three main values. They did this exercise as a way to better understand oneself, and I thought this would be a great place to start. Here’s the list of values I referenced, given by Brené Brown. Here’s mine with mark-ups:

List of Values from Brene Brown's Dare to Lead workshop with my personal edits on them. The highlighted words of mine are Ambition, Home, and Wholeheartedness.
List of Values from Brene Brown's Dare to Lead workshop with my personal edits on them. The highlighted words of mine are Ambition, Home, and Wholeheartedness.

I started by striking out ones that were not important to me, and circled the others. Then I ranked and prioritized them down to my final three.

Initially, it was difficult to narrow down the values that meant the most to me; however, through the process of elimination, along with a little good faith, I narrowed it down to three values that I think define me pretty well. In no particular order, these are my values.

Disclaimer: I might not necessarily fully embody these values right now, but these articulate what I believe to be the best version of myself.

1. Ambition

"Everything you need to accomplish your goals is already in you." – Unknown

When I was applying to university, I had no idea what career I wanted to pursue. I knew what I didn't want to do – anything science-, literature-, or history-related. Therefore, business seemed to be a viable route. If you're a fan of Wong Fu Productions, you'll understand the following term: a Yappie. I strongly identify as a Yappie (a young professional Asian with a well-paid job and a fashionable lifestyle). Consequently, I feel like my life is somewhat pre-determined where I have to check life achievements off a list:

  • Get into a reputable university and program (check)

  • Get a summer internship (check)

  • Get leadership positions in school clubs (check)

  • Graduate (hopefully check)

As a result, I never felt compelled to set an ambitious goal and gun for it, and when I did think of setting bigger goals, I never felt like they could be attained (like pivoting my career into a different field for example). Ambition means a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work (Oxford). I want to challenge myself to dream big and set goals that I typically think are out of my reach. Goals such as: attending an Ivy League school in the future, working for an industry in which I have no experience, starting a podcast, or founding a business. Ambition is one of my core values as I intend it to be the driving force that wakes me up in the morning and keeps me motivated every day.

2. Home

"You can say goodbye and you can say hello, but you'll always find your way back home." - Hannah Montana

Family has always been important to me. The significance of family and home has been ingrained into my entire being for as long as I can remember. I was lucky to be raised in a family where love was the most important thing and home was my anchor. As I grew older, I began to realize that my home extends beyond my immediate family. Being on my own in university allowed me to create new homes where I found shelter in new places, things, and people.

I now realize that I am at home with my immediate family – they are my support group and the core foundation of who I am. Without them, I wouldn't be able to approach life with ambition and tenacity – I know they’re always there to catch me when I fall.

I am at home when I'm with my friends – they bring warmth and joy to my life, even on the coldest days.

And lastly, I know that I can always be at home with myself. I’m learning to enjoy spending time with myself. Time with my thoughts allow me to reset. I thought this article, “Why You Should Find Time to Be Alone With Yourself” from the New York Times articulates this very nicely.

Although a part of life is about seeking new experiences, there's a peace and serenity that comes with knowing I can always find my way back home.

3. Wholeheartedness

“The willingness to show up changes us. It makes us a little braver each time.” - Brené Brown, Daring Greatly

My biggest struggle is confidence, particularly regarding my intelligence. It’s my low confidence that happens to be the source of a lot of self-sabotage. And although I recognize this insecurity of mine, it’s still difficult to tackle and overcome. Contrary to popular belief, telling yourself to "be more confident" doesn't always work. Something that has helped me is to be wholehearted in (ideally) everything I do. Wholeheartedness is defined as being completely and sincerely devoted, determined, or enthusiastic (Oxford). By being completely present in whatever I do, I won’t overthink and become my own worst enemy. We all constantly face uncomfortable situations but having the willingness to show up while being unapologetically you is something that no one can ever criticize.

After completing this exercise, I began to gain a better understanding of myself. I now understand how I view the world, other people, and most importantly, myself. I value Ambition, Home, and Wholeheartedness – and I intend on embodying these three values going forward. I also want to be clear that this doesn't necessarily mean these three values are the best values. Everyone has a different journey and a unique story to tell.

I challenge you to think about your top three to five values. Comment them below! I'd love to hear your thoughts. And as always, thank you for being here – your whole self.