Getting to the bottom of your values

Casey Onder, PhD
2 min readMar 20, 2023
Photo by Carles Rabada on Unsplash

Values used to be simple.

You did what you were supposed to do and you were where you came from.

Today many of us live in our heads or in a fight-flight-freeze state, have intersectional identities, career hop and live 9 lives. Not to mention being bombarded with information and perspectives from so many sources so much of the time.

I love the beautiful mess of us.

And our values can get really confusing.

The net result is a whole lot of talent with a serious lack of focus and faith in their direction — plus incredible effort and energy in “soulless” pursuits.

That, and because we’re confused or stressed, the loudest or shiniest or sexiest things win out, whether or not they’re good for us.

Here are some ways to create clarity on how you want to contribute and give your best in your time here.

Kill your character

You have 12 months to live. What did you make sure you did (and didn’t)?

Imagine big thanks (versus praise)

E.g. from colleagues and leaders in your field-company-clients-stakeholders. You can also create your future eulogy.

Direct your biopic

Go light on history, focus on present and future. What are key themes? What does your character represent?

Envision your legacy

Bar doubt and limits. What will you or your people have left behind? What will have most mattered? What legacy would you lay it all on the line for, if you knew it were possible…

Write your life story with you as hero/ine

What are your adventures and the dragons you slay? If you’re more of a chart person you can create a timeline or flowchart. For more on hero(ine’s) journeys check out Joseph Campbell’s work.

Think of 3–5 people you really admire

The kind of people you’d kill (or faint) to have dinner with. Beyond personality or details of their work, what did they do and stand for? What makes it compelling? What would you talk at length about? You can also imagine throwing a dream party and who you would want to attend.

Envision your crème de la crème

What would life look like if you could do absolutely anything? Plug into your five senses: Sight, taste, touch, smell, hearing. Picture an ideal day or week. What would you be up to and with what kinds of people? Envision multiple realities if you can’t pick one.

Purpose doesn’t need to be without personal profit.

Imagine if the opposite were true…

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Casey Onder, PhD

Executive Coach | Psychologist | PhD. Follow me on LinkedIn or sign up for my newsletter @