A student talks with a counselor

Identify and acknowledge fundamental values

We identify and acknowledge fundamental values by being clear about what matters most, and establishing a compass to direct our decisions and actions.

Values are the “why” behind what we do, but often they are not clearly stated or even consciously recognized. By articulating our own values, as well as the values of those around us, we can better understand and navigate conflicts and ensure that our decisions, actions and solutions will align with our values, not work against them.

Reasoning and practice

Engage in reasoning and reflection with the following questions to immerse yourself in this practice:

  1. Why is it important that you identify both your own and your community’s values?
  2. How are you working to consider values that may differ from your own? How might conflicting values be reconciled?
  3. How do you maintain awareness of your assumptions or judgements? What assumptions or judgements are you making?
  4. What is your clear mission and vision? How are you aligning your choices with them?
  5. How do your values motivate your decisions? How are you living your values?
  6. How does your identity and role (personal or professional) affect how and what people share with you?
  7. Are you seeing others’ interests in yourself? Are you being empathetic to others’ needs?


The activities and resources below were designed for individual and group development of the knowledge, skills and dispositions necessary to engage this practice.

Exploring our individual and collective values – what they are, what they mean to us and how they might guide our decision-making, can also help us to recognize the spectrum of values that individuals hold and why each of us believe and respond to situations as we do. Here is a simple activity to begin to identify those values that are important to you and to your community.

Time required: 20-40 minutes

As we engage in experiences and relationships throughout our lives, our values may evolve or change. One way to understand the “why” behind our values is through storytelling. Use this activity with either a group or on your own to explore, interact and reflect on the lived experiences that have shaped our values and the values of others.

Time required: 20-30 minutes