How Defining My Values Helped to Define My Future...kinda

How Defining My Values Helped to Define My Future...kinda

Recently someone asked me what my top 3 values are.  It is a question that I’ve been asked a lot throughout my college career, but this time I took it a little more seriously.  Perhaps it was my impending graduation or maybe it was my boredom at the time.  But whatever it was that drove me to take this task seriously, I am thankful.

Being of the Google generation, naturally the first thing that I did was Google ‘values’.  Before you roll  your eyes at me please realize that I didn’t know where to start.  I have always considered myself to be self-aware, but this was different. It was ‘defining’.  So I found a website that listed out a seemingly endless list values.  I wrote down all the ones I liked: ‘compassion’, ‘education’, ‘insightfulness’. I rolled my eyes at whoever would choose something like ‘perkiness’. After the initial scan, however, things got more difficult. Do I value compassion more than empathy? Which do I cross out? Education or competency? Good listener, or good communicator? Some things were too similar, and others too different. Now I know you are sitting at the edge of your seat thinking “Wow I can’t wait to see what Sara chooses”, but I’m going to make you wait a little longer.

I would like to point out that this is a very challenging process because you have to actually say “hey I think I value friendship over education, sorry parents who pay my tuition!”. But it was also enlightening, because I realized that maybe I wasn’t prioritizing my life based off of the things that were truly important to me.  I don’t want to do things because that’s just the order I put them down in my planner, I want to do what is valuable.

I realized that what I value most in my life is:  passion, empathy, and contribution.  Now the first two weren’t a surprise for me, and if you know me maybe they won’t come as a surprise to you either.  But the last one was kind of the dark horse of my values list.  Contribution, I didn’t even know that was a value before I tried this.  The more I think about these values the more I see how they are reflected in my actions, in my relationships, and how I want to live my life.

Taking the time to define my values helped me to understand the kind of person I want to be, and what I should be doing.  I realized that I’m not capable of living a life where I’m not interacting with others, doing what I love, and contributing to a greater purpose.  So in 20 years if you see me driving my hovercar and I look unhappy because my robo-husband has left me for our dishwasher, please ask if I still am staying true to my values.  Although I may want to live according to my values, that robo-husband sure sounds like a stud I’d fall for.

I’m going to ask of you to define your values.  Because knowing what we love, what is important to us is the only way to live a life that will make you happy.  Because as we enter times in our lives that are full of uncertainty, it is nice to know something certain about ourselves.


To find your own values, go to:

Originally posted January 2016

Sarah Contreras

Sara is a lipstick enthusiast and expert on all things Larry David.  She is about to enter the abyss... post grad life that is.  She is attending Appalachian State University and studying International and Comparative Politics.