What matters most to you?|
I have long been a deep consumer of "self-help" material, both mainstream and off-the-beaten-track. It is a fairly standard part of any personal development program to take an inventory of your values. Since your values tend to drive what you pursue and your satisfaction with your life, it is often useful to list them out and rank them hierarchically. This allows us to view our value hierarchy objectively and to see if there might be some conflicts between what we say that we want and what we actually pursue. For example, we might say that we want both "adventure" and "security" in our lives. Depending on how we frame those two concepts, there might be some serious conflicts in our strategy for getting them: pursuit of one could easily cause a decrease in the other. Being clear about what you actually value is a good first step toward resolving those tensions. In fact, clarity itself can be sometimes freeing. What if you never noticed that "tranquility" was really your primary value and that much of your life was set up against it? The unresolved tensions between your values and your life can make you and those around you miserable.
In preparation for setting my goals for the year, I was reading Steve Pavlina's website, specifically this article on living your values and this list of values. I highly recommend the article. I have always found the process of eliciting my values---manually listing out the values and trying to rank them---to be arbitrary and onerous: sometimes I forget one until after I am done with the process, sometimes it takes so long that I move too quickly during the comparison phase, sometimes I am caught up in the mechanics of comparing and am not listening to my real emotional responses, etc. Steve's list is pretty inclusive and helps with the forgetting issue, but I was looking for something more.
I decided to build a tool to automate the list, randomizing it so that the values appear out of alphabetical order and then to apply what I learned as a "forced choice" matrix to rank the values against each other. I learned about "forced choice" at a time-management seminar I attended years ago. Essentially, the matrix helps you to mechanically compare each value to every other value on your list. You can do it on paper, but it takes a lot of effort with anything more than 5 or 6 items long. My scripting also randomizes the order in which you are asked the questions to shake up your responses and simplifies the voting by making it a just a matter of clicking hyperlinks.
At the end, I present your ordered list of your values and then list out the top 10 values ranked by everyone that has used this website. You can bookmark the results page if you would like to come back at a future time to see your values again or to see how they compare against the cumulative ranking.
NOTE: For the record, I am NOT saving any personal demographic information about you. If you bookmark the URL to return again, the URL is using the original Session ID [a random 32-character string that the script uses to help you move from screen to screen] and the date/time that your values were ranked.