People Giving High Fives

What Are Your Values?

Knowing yourself, and your values can be key to your happiness and success in any career – so it’s worth spending some time now thinking about what really makes you tick.

What ARE values?

Your values are the things that you believe are important – things that make you happy, and things that make you proud. If time were money – what are the things you would spend it on? You’d never spend your money on things you don’t care about – so don’t spend you time doing things that you don’t care about either.

When you spend time doing what matters to you – you feel happy. When you spend time doing things you disagree with or don’t make you feel proud – it feels wrong and can make you miserable.

When you live and breathe your values, you allow them to take priority – and living by them every day, in everything you do – will ensure you make decisions that you are happy with, as well as ensuring people around you know that you are consistent, reliable and trustworthy – the most valuable characteristic in anyone.

This is why making a conscious effort to identify your values is so important.

Do you think family is more important than a career? How much time would you spend on either? Do you value having spare money above spare time? Or vice versa? Do you have strong feelings about climate change or the environment, do you care about the ethics of your employer or their suppliers? Are you competitive? Do you value philanthropy and charity work? Is local community important to you? Do you like working in a team, or alone? What situations, or behaviours in people make you angry or frustrated? What actions do you respect and admire in people?

Typewriter with goals typed on paper

When you know your own values, you can use them to make decisions about how to live your life. One way of starting to do this is to look back on your life – to identify when you felt really good. Ask yourself these questions –

  • What occasions were you most happy? What were you doing?
  • What occasions made you most proud? Why?

As an example, mine are reliability, self-discipline, integrity, honesty, kindness, selflessness. Which align almost exactly to the Army’s values, which are Courage, Discipline, Respect for others, Integrity, Loyalty and Selfless commitment. Hence being in a career which I love and makes me happy and proud.

Once you have your list of 6 values, double check them with yourself – and be really really honest about how you feel – as your integrity is at stake (your sense of what is right and standing by it).

  • Do these values make you feel good about yourself?
  • Would you be proud to tell your values to people you respect and admire?
  • Would you stand up for your values, even if your opinion isn’t popular?

Your personal values are a central part of who you are – and who you want to be.

So instead of asking yourself WHAT you want to be in the future – first ask yourself first WHO you want to be – and then allow your values to guide your decisions towards the best career for you.


Captain Polly Marsh is a Youth Engagement Officer at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

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