Alex Okell

Why discovering your values is key to an aligned business

This is a transcript from The Compassionate Business Collective podcast. If you prefer to listen to the audio, listen to episode four here.

So when I was kind of dealing with my burnout and feeling overwhelmed with my businesses and feeling just a bit like I didn’t know what I was doing. What I wanted to do. Why was doing it. All of these sort of questions were coming up for me and I was really doubting it wasn’t necessarily my abilities. It was more my ability to continue how I was going. It was how do I keep this stream of momentum going, basically.

And because of the preexisting beliefs I had about how a business, “should” be run or how you make money as a business owner to be able to pay rent and bills and stay alive and hopefully be able to treat yourself to some nice things, I felt like I always had to be in this loop of almost stress and exhaustion, which I’ve spoken about in previous podcasts.

I was doubting where the business was going. It wasn’t really feeling very true to me and I had these feelings of exhaustion. And I took these fears and beliefs to supervision with me. So nutritionists and dietitians and therapists and probably loads of other professionals have supervision. And it’s kind of an opportunity for you to go to someone who has more experience than you, who is someone in your field who you respect and admire. I go about every three weeks to my supervisor and we chat about anything that’s coming up for me within my kind of clinical practice, my nutrition practice, and then also within my business more generally.

So I meet with my supervisor, Liza, pretty regularly and we kind of talk about everything and anything. And it often comes back to the conversations that I am going to be having on this podcast. Things like rejecting hustle culture, and moving away from capitalist and patriarchal ways of working and living. And yes, she’s just an amazing person. So we have really interesting conversations. And she challenged me when I was bringing up these feelings of not knowing what I’m doing next, feeling overwhelmed, not feeling truly aligned with my business. She prompted me to speak to my therapist about values work, and it was something that I heard about, on podcasts and in books and things like that. So I kind of had an idea of what values work was, but I just never put the time into doing it which is a bit of a common theme for me, being interested in things and thinking it sounds like a nice idea and then not really doing much with it.

So I finally took this chance to take it to therapy and say, Liza’s recommended that I think about values work and especially how it relates to my business. So me and my therapist worked through some values work together and I did some stuff on my own and I took it away and I really had a good think about it. And when I say it’s changed my business, I feel like I can’t emphasize enough how much it’s changed my business because basically once you started doing values work and you’ve determined your three to five core values, everything is just so much easier. That’s what I really like about it. It’s all about ease for me.

My business coaching and the way that I run my businesses is all about ease and all about relaxing into business and removing the stress and the strain and the rat race and the dog-eat-dog world that it can often be and making it a lot more gentle and compassionate. So that’s what I really love about values work. It makes it a lot easier once you have these three values established within yourself and then within your business.

What is a Value?

Let’s go back to what a value is. So the definition of a core value is an enduring belief upon which a person acts. And values truly have an emotional component because we either really resonate with them or we really don’t. And we have quite an emotional reaction to them. So although our values do tend to be pretty stable throughout our life, they don’t have these strict boundaries that we so often want to impose. As you move through your life and your career, your values may shift and change. So it’s important to do this work regularly. It’s not a one-time done thing, it’s something that we should be reflecting on and assessing every so often. So your mind might be racing right now with ideas of what your values are, or you might be having some judgmental thoughts about the words that are popping into your head. So you want you to slow down and take some time to take a deep breath and just relax. I really just want to highlight that the reason that we’re doing this is so that you are always building a business that feels completely true to you. It’s something that feels completely in tune with who you are and it makes decision-making easier. It makes getting up in the morning and being excited to work easier. It makes everything just a little bit more relaxed because it really is coming from a place of true alignment.

How to Establish Values

Step One: Free-Flow Writing

So the first step to our values work today is some free flow writing, also known as journaling. This is just a little bit of time for me to give you some prompts for you to think about to get the juices flowing. So I’d really love to ask you five questions for you to think about, ideally if you can write these down rather than doing it typed up on a computer, but whatever is most accessible to you.

  1. List some times in your business when you are most proud of yourself. Which times kind of really made you feel filled up, lit up from within? Make a note of them and see if there are any common themes.

  2. Recall some times when you felt happiest or most fulfilled during your work.

  3. What are your natural talents and what would other people say that you are naturally good at?

  4. When do you feel in a state of flow? And this question was one that I posed to one of my business coaching clients and she came back with me and said I’m not sure I feel like I am ever in flow unless I’m kind of doing more either organizational tasks where I’m just kind of like cracking on the admin side of things or when I’m relaxing and I’m away from work. And what I said to it here was “why don’t we pull in some of those themes and things that you feel when you’re in that relaxed kind of holiday mode?” How can we bring that into your everyday? So don’t worry too much if not much is feeling in flow right now. Think of times outside of business as well when you feel within flow and try and implement them into your everyday.

  5. What would you like your work or brand to be known for?

Take some time to reflect and write and take some time to really think about your business and you as a person.

Step Two: Identify Values

Step two is using a word bank. You can now start to use it as inspiration to start highlighting words that you feel aligned to. I just want you to highlight as many of the words that feel good to you. If you’re finding this a little bit more challenging, then you could always speak to a friend or a loved one and ask them how they would describe you. Or another thing that I really like to do, which my therapist prompted me to do, was think about the values you like in other people or other businesses, so what do you like in others? And then use that to guide the values that feel aligned to you.

So if you haven’t seen a values word bank before, to put it simply, it’s just a big long list of words and they are just kind of descriptive words, things like honesty, health, happiness, joy, love, loyalty, tolerance, positivity. It’s just a big long list of words and you just highlight the ones that feel good to you or feel aligned to you or feel true to you. And that kind of gives you that emotional response that we were speaking about at the start. No limitations here, no amount that you have to pick, just highlight any of them that feel relevant to you.

Step Three: Narrow It Down

Step three is to narrow it down. So, as I said, we’ve gone a bit crazy. We’ve highlighted everything we have, and picked anything that feels good to us, but now we want to start narrowing it down by grouping any similar words together. So these might be words like, for example, kindness and compassion. So you could put them together and then choose the one that describes that group the best.

And then we want to be getting this list down to about ten top values. So ten values that feel pretty good, words that feel nice. And then we want to do a little bit more reflection and checking for alignment. So I’d like to ask you to free-flow write or journal again or just do it within your head

Think about each word individually and ask;

  1. Does this value feel right?

  2. Are these values consistent with how I act or want to act?

  3. Would I be proud to share this action and value with others?

  4. And is this value really mine or something I think I should value?

So from these prompts, you should be able to narrow it down to your top three to five values. And it doesn’t mean that the other values don’t align with you, the ones that out of the ten that we’ve kind of ditched for these top three to five, it’s more that these three to five are just so you that you could never cross them off. They just feel too aligned and too true to you.

The next step, I think, is truly the kind of game-changing step or the bit that’s really helpful because all of this can feel quite up in the air right now. If we just kind of got these values, it’s like, okay, great, well, obviously I like compassion. What do I do with that? So against those top values, make a note of what that means to you within your business.

Example: inclusivity is one of my values, and that’s a nice thing to say for sure, but what does it really mean within my business? So for me, that means having accessible offers and sliding scale prices throughout all of my work to make my work accessible and inclusive to as many people as possible.

This is a really good way to kind of make these values a little bit more concrete, a little bit more tangible and see how they can actually be implemented into your everyday.

Step Four: Audit Your Business

This is another step that is just so valuable, more tangible, less kind of up in the air – time to audit your business and your personal life, if that feels good, to ensure that you are living and working by your values.

  1. Ask yourself, in what way are my top values showing up in my work?

  2. In what ways are they not showing up and how can I start incorporating them?

  3. How can I communicate these values to others and connect with my ideal client? Do I need to create a values page on my website or can I weave my values into the copy

Download the free Values workbook here

Scroll to Top