One of the most powerful tools for determining what you really want in your encore career (and life) is clarifying your personal values. But, what exactly do I mean by values? I like to think of values as those things that really matter to you -- what lights you up, turns you on, and gets your juices going. Being part of a community is a personal value; so is having fun. Other examples are family, financial freedom, beauty, spirituality, mastery, inspiration, friendship, originality, contribution, and connection. Your personal values are unique to you. They make life worth living. It's important to remember that your personal values evolve over time. What you valued in your 20s is probably very different from what you value now in your 50s or 60s. So, what are your top priorities for this particular time in your life? What ideas and beliefs do you hold most dear that if your life were designed around them, you would be truly fulfilled? What values define how you want to live your life -- every day of your life -- from now on? To discover your top values, start with my 120+ Personal Values flash card set, (see below to see how to get your set). While you can print them out on card stock, cut up and use them like flash cards, it works equally as well to print them out on copy paper and use them as a list: 1. First Pass. Take some quiet time to go through the list one value at a time, and make a check mark next to any that resonate with you and make you feel good. Don't worry if you have a lot of check marks. That's only natural, since you value many things. 2. Add Your Own. Use the list as a stepping off point and add everything you value that's not on the list to the blank sheet on the last page. For instance, one thing that was missing from my life for many years that I hold very dear at this point in my life is breathing space -- in my day, my week, my month and my year. 3. Down to 15-20. Now, go through the list again (your check marks and your additions) and whittle it down to 15-20 values. You may have to do several passes to narrow it down. That's okay. 4. The Top 5. Choose the five values that mean the most to you. You'll notice that you may have two or more similar values on your list like "create" and "design". Does the idea of one thrill you more than the other? That's the one to pick. If they both tickle you, then they both stay. It doesn't matter as long as every value on your list lights you up, turns you on, and/or really gets your juices going. The fact that you've selected only five doesn't mean the other values on your list aren't important to you. It's just that right now in your life, these are what hold the most meaning for you. But here's the really big question: How much of the life you're living right now is aligned with your values? Not so much? Not to worry. Here's your homework: choose one of your values and create a small goal that honors it. For instance, if "having fun" is one of your values and your life isn't very fun right now, you might create the goal of doing something fun every week. Over time, create a goal for each one of your top five values. Start small, and each time you accomplish one of these values goals, up the ante to a larger goal. You'll discover that when you create goals around your values, you're literally pulled toward those goals -- it feels easy and fun. When your goals are not aligned with your values, it'll feel like you're pushing a boulder up the side of a cliff. You could simply use your top five values to inform the kind of values-based encore life that would be ideal for you. Or, you could take a big leap and create one goal -- i.e. your encore career -- that honors all five of your top personal values, and see what you come up with!