Signs depicting needs

Needs and Values.  As January comes to a close your New Year resolutions can start becoming a distant dream if you haven’t defined your motivational map.

In my last newsletter I spoke about motivation and how our beliefs in particular can be detrimental to us reaching our goals or they can propel us forward.

In this newsletter I am going to focus on helping you to recognize your emotional needs and to clarify your values.


The next stage of creating your motivation map is recognizing your emotional needs; the things you feel you must have to make you happy in some way.  Some of your basic emotional needs may be;

• To be loved

• To be safe, secure and certain

• To comfort and please your senses

• To feel special and important

• To experience new things

You also have “higher” needs that make you feel good and may also benefit others or develop you in some way;

• To make forward progress in your life

• To make a difference in the world

Meeting some of these needs all of the time can be a tough trick to pull off and may come at a price.

• Your need to feel loved may make you try too hard to please people that you fail to stand up for your own best interests.

• Your need to feel special and important may drive you to seek out a promotion at work that ends up making you miserable.

Your needs, like your beliefs, have the potential to steer you off course as much as they have the potential to keep you moving forward.  The trick is to recognize what drives you and ensure that your needs are met in ways that fit with your values.  If you have a strong need to feel loved and enjoy the thrill of romance, then the best way to get this need met that sits well with your value of building a strong relationship is to talk to your partner about how they can do this for you rather than say, flirting with a work colleague.

You’re entitled to have your needs;  It’s part of who you are.  You need to find ways of meeting your needs that are life enhancing, not destructive.  And sometimes you’ll let go of needs that hold you back from being your best self.

Activity 1

The following exercise will help you to think about the needs you have and how they’re met.  In answering the questions you will get an understanding about the impact your behaviour has when you choose to act in certain ways to meet your needs. Eg  indulging in temper tantrums to get your way (destructive) when you could clearly and positively state what you need from a certain situation (constructive)?

• What are your needs?




• How do you currently meet your needs?




• How many of your needs do you meet in ways that are destructive to others or to yourself?




• How can you find ways of meeting most of your needs in a healthy way most of the time?




• What actions do you want to take as a result of this activity?





The most important thing you could ever do for yourself in your life is to clarify your values.  Values provide a compass and a direction every moment of our lives.

Values are the standards and guidelines we use to navigate through life but they are far more than that.  Everything we do in life is implicitly or explicitly tested against our values, like our own very personal “anti-virus” of the mind.  When last did you “update” yours?

Your values hold the key to your motivation – so if you have ever found yourself procrastinating or holding back, your values were probably unclear.

Values are the key to happiness because values are the conditions that must be satisfied before we will give ourselves permission to be happy.

It is no accident that both the words e-motion and motivation suggest motives for action.  Clarify your values and motivation will be far less of an issue than it may have been until now.

Your values are the principles that are most fundamental to you.  Your values do link into your needs, yet they can be independent of them.  Your values truly steer your motivation in a forward direction.  You have a strong need to feel loved that drives you to tell little white lies to your friends when the honest truth is far kinder but may cause them to be upset with you.  At the same time you can hold the value of honesty, which tells you that lying is wrong.  In this instance, a good way to satisfy both values is to hold the importance of honesty with the gift of compassion, so that you look for kind ways to tell your friends the direct truth.  This approach also feeds your need to be loved because your friends respect and honour you for caring.

Some of the values that you hold may be;

• To be compassionate

• To lead and inspire

• To experience and create joy

• To love and be loved

• To be the best you can be

• To make a contribution to the world

• To provide for your loved ones

• To leave a legacy for people to remember you by

• To create wealth

Some values appear on the list of needs too.  However, values and needs have a subtle difference.  A true value generates positive forward motion, helping you to fully enjoy your life and develop yourself and may also allow you to benefit those around you or the world in general.  Think about the pleasure you get when you sit and watch TV passively for several hours.  Sometimes you need it to comfort, relax and amuse you – but it doesn’t usually open up your horizons much.  On the other hand, watching a challenging film or reading a book that fascinates you, often helps you to feel that you’re more fully engaged with your world.  You feed your value of growth or self-development.

Living up to your own values isn’t always a bed of roses.  Tough and painful decisions and actions are part of the deal.  But you’ll find a world of difference between the discomfort that accompanies being true to yourself and the pain that goes with avoidance.  Some types of depression may be caused by avoiding living to your values – in depressing your instinct to be truly yourself you cause a physical depression, which can be your mind and body telling you to step up and take notice of your true values.

Activity 2

In this activity, pay close attention to the words that occur to you first, and the pictures, sounds, and feelings attached to those words.  That helps you get to a definition of what that value actually means to you in a practical sense.

Stage 1: Identify the values that motivate you

1. In the table below write the answers to the question in the first column.  Your answers may include things like “my job”, “my kids”, “my car”, “the beach” – any person, place, or thing that you value.  Note everything that is important to you.

2. In the second column, write your answer to the question listed.  Identify the value or benefit that you get as a result of having this person, place or thing in your life.  You may have many benefits associated with one factor – your job may give you security, respect, a sense of growth and a feeling of excitement.  Focus on the good things here – your job may also give you frustration and stress at times.  If you find that you’re identifying benefits that are also a person, place or thing (such as money, my company car etc.) list them separately in the first column and consider what actual benefits you derive from these tangible things.  Money may give you “security” and your car may give you “excitement”.

Do this for all the things on your list.

3. Consider your second list.  You should have a great many values on that list by now.  Go through the list and circle those that come up more than once.  Then link together any that mean the same thing to you.  For example, you may have used the word honesty in one context and integrity in another.  These words may mean pretty much the same thing to you or they can be very different.  It’s your definition so feel free to combine things that essentially mean the same to you, and choose a value word to describe them that’s meaningful to you.

4. Write out the most frequently occurring values in the third column.

Look at the remaining values and decide which ones are the most significant for you.  Enter up to ten emotions or values in this third column.  Don’t try to prioritize them yet, simply pick out the top ten, the ones that make your heart and soul sing.  These represent the true values that have deep meaning for you.

Identifying Values that Motivate You

What people, places and things that are most important to me in my life right now?




   What positive benefits does this person, place or thing give me?




  Most important values























































































































Stage 2: Review your list for completeness

Look back and check your list to see how complete it is.  Have you identified values that are really more like needs?  Perhaps your meaning of “love” is that you are the receiver of love and not the giver?  This may indicate a strong need to be loved rather than a value to give and receive love.  Refer to the earlier section “knowing what your needs are” if you like.  If you do identify qualities that are needs rather than values, remove them from your list for separate consideration.

Your top ten values are all true values, in the sense that they meet your own needs and allow you to meet the needs of others or positively affect your world in some way too.  Think of values as mainly outward looking and forward moving.

In my next newsletter I will help you to prioritize your values and to create a truly congruent motivational map.

Pin It on Pinterest