One day a few years ago, I was at a training and we were prompted write down a list of our values.

I paused, and I felt puzzled. And then I felt surprised at how puzzled I felt! For someone who reflects as often as I do, you’d think a list of my values would pop into my head immediately. But it took time, and even when I’d written my list, I didn’t feel confident that it was accurate or complete.

I started to think about this again recently when considering my digital minimalist diet. I’ve stepped back from my phone and social media and several other apps for 30 days. Cal Newport, author of Deep Work and Digital Minimalism, advocates taking a 30-day break from social media and then gradually adding things back to your digital life that support your values.

So that left me, once again, which a simple but complicated question: What are my values?

This is the list I developed, in no particular order –

  1. Kindness. I want to embody kindness in all areas of my life.
  2. Laughter + joy. I want life to be fun and enjoyable.
  3. Books, reading, and writing. Writing and reading are two of my fundamental hobbies and joys; I value them immensely.
  4. The outdoors. I believe fresh air and physical engagement with the outside world keep me healthy and sane.
  5. Family. My family is the most important thing in the world to me.
  6. Friendship. My friends, too!
  7. Connection + community. This is related to family + friends, but also different; I want to feel connected with my community. I don’t always feel like I have that connection – but I want it.
  8. Peace of mind. I want to feel peaceful and on top of things as much as possible.
  9. Creativity. I am at my best when I have a creative outlet and ongoing creative projects.
  10. Presence. It’s important to me to be fully present in my life.
  11. Flow. I love it when it feels like my life is in a state of flow – everything making sense and happening in a natural and smooth way.
  12. Positivity. I value a positive attitude and optimism whenever possible.
  13. Wellness + sobriety + recovery. I value my sobriety and my overall wellness above just about everything else. (Because, well, if I don’t have sobriety, then I don’t really have anything else.)

That’s my list, and I love it. I feel proud of it. It’s not fixed; it can evolve. At times, I think certain values will rise in importance and others will take a backseat.

I’m so glad I did this exercise. I think it will help me, in a few days or weeks, to be able to look at my digital life – my phone, my iPad, my laptop – and be intentional about what apps and other digital tools support these values. Stay tuned.

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Photo by Arun Thomas on


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