Magnetic letters spelling value held on washing line with pegs


Why are values important?

Values guide and shape us. They also impact how we see ourselves, others and the world around us. Values affect every decision that we make, what we do, how we react to situations and what we aspire to do in the future. 

Values help us to focus on what we are really all about and help us to set our most important goals in life. In her book “Emotional Agility”, Susan David states: 

“Recognising, accepting and then distancing ourselves from the scary, or painful, or disruptive emotional stuff gives us the ability to engage more of the “take the long view” part of us, which integrates thinking and feeling with long term values and aspirations, and can help us find new and better ways of getting there.” 

Working out what your core values are is fundamental to this process. They help you to map out your route to a life, which holds meaning and purpose for you. 

Sometimes it is easy to just go with the flow and our brains like easy. This approach sadly drains purpose from your work and personal life. You find yourself drifting along in a life which does not feel like your own. You might question who you are and wonder how you lost sight of the person you used to be.  


I don't know who I want to be?

Divorce can make you think this thought every day.  Everything changes and you may have no idea of how to be you anymore.

Your values are not set in stone and can change over time. What served you well, when you got married, might now be holding you back. If you do not know why that is, making choices and negotiating relationships will be exhausting. 

Susan David talks of “walking your why”, which she defines as:

“the art of living by your own personal values … These are the values which are truly your own – not those imposed on you by others and, not what you think you should care about, but what you genuinely do care about.” 

In other words, “walking your why” helps you be authentic and comfortable in your own skin.  


No one said this was going to be easy.


Working out what your values are can be tricky. Reading through Susan David’s list of the characteristics of values, may help get your creative juices flowing.  

  • Values serve to keep you steady 
  • They are freely chosen and have not been imposed on you 
  • They are not goals 
  • They are ongoing and not fixed 
  • They guide rather than constrain you 
  • They are active, not static 
  • They allow you to get closer to the way you want to live your life 
  • They bring you freedom from social comparisons 
  • They foster self-acceptance 
  • They are something you can use 
I invite you to spend time reflecting on this list. See if you can come up with a list of values, which mean something important to you.
This is the first step to working out who you are and what you need to know in order to “walk your why”.

This blog post is part of a series, which I have published in The Divorce Village community. Please click here if you would like to read more content.