Change Your Values, Change Your Life



“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” –- Ralph Waldo Emerson

What would your values need to be to create your ultimate destiny and live your best life?

That’s the question Tony Robbins asked himself long ago.

Before that, he was living his values. 

But all that meant was that he had good clarity of the values that had been conditioned and programmed into him over his life.

Consciously Choose Your Values and Prioritize Them

He realized that to be the best person he could possibly be, he would need to consciously choose his values and prioritize them.

And this is the heart of profound change and personal transformation.

In the book, Awaken the Giant Within:  How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny, Tony Robbins shares what he learned about changing his values to shape and create his ultimate destiny.

Example of Before and After List of Values

What happens when you change from asking, “What’s important to me?” to asking “What do my values need to be?”   Here is an example of Tony Robbins’ values hierarchy.

BEFORE: Tony Robbins’ Old List of Moving-Toward Values AFTER: Tony Robbins’ New List of Moving-Toward Values
  1. Passion
  2. Love
  3. Freedom
  4. Contribution
  5. Being Able
  6. Growth
  7. Achievement/Accomplishment
  8. Happiness
  9. Fun
  10. Health
  11. Creativity
  1. Health/Vitality
  2. Love/Warmth
  3. Intelligence
  4. Cheerfulness
  5. Honesty
  6. Passion
  7. Gratefulness
  8. Fun/Happiness
  9. Making a Difference
  10. Learning/Growing
  11. Achieving
  12. Being the Best
  13. Investing
  14. Contribution
  15. Creativity


What Would Happen if You Consciously Chose Your Values?

It’s one thing to know your values and to clarify them.  But what would happen if you consciously chose your values and deliberately prioritized them in a new sequence?

Via Awaken the Giant Within:

“I began to think about what would happen if, instead of just teaching people what their values were and clarifying them, I actually got people to consciously select or redirect the order and content of their values hierarchy system.  What if I took someone whose number-one value was security, and whose number-fifteen value was adventure, and I switched the order, not only intellectually but so that adventure became the new highest priority in their nervous system?  What kind of change do you think that might make in someone’s life? A minor one or a major one?”

You Change the Way You Think, Feel, and Behave in Every Area of Life

Changing your values changes everything.

Via Awaken the Giant Within:

“The answer is obvious.  By doing this, you literally change the way a person thinks, feels, and behaves in virtually every area of their life.  I couldn’t imagine a more profound shift that a human being could make.  In essence, this would be the kind of change that has been described throughout history: a conversion from Saul to Paul, if you will, with the things that a person hated most becoming the things they loved the most, and vice versa.”

What Would Your Values Need to Be to Live Your Best Life?

The ultimate question to ask is what would your values need to be so that you could realize your potential and live your best life?

Via Awaken the Giant Within:
”At first I thought, ‘My values are great! I love my values. After all, this is who I am.’  But I had to keep reminding myself that we are not our values. We are much more than our values.  These values were not the result of intelligent choices and a master plan.  What I had merely accomplished until now was discovering what priorities were conditioned into my life, and I had consciously chosen to live within the system of pain and pleasure that had been programmed into me.  But if I were to really design my own life, if I were to create a set of values that would shape the ultimate destiny I desired, what would they need to be?”

5 Questions to Re-Design Your Values System

Tony Robbins shares five questions that he went through to evaluate and re-design his value hierarchy so that he could create and shape his ultimate destiny:

  1. What do my values need to be in order to create my ultimate destiny, in order to be the best person I could possibly be, in order to have the largest impact in my lifetime?
  2. What other values would I need to add?
  3. What values should I eliminate fro my list in order to achieve my ultimate destiny?
  4. What benefit do I get by having this value in this position on my hierarchy?
  5. In what order do my values need to be to achieve my ultimate destiny?

How Tony Robbins Changed his Values of Intelligence, Freedom, and Passion

As Tony Robbins walked through his values he realized that some things were missing, some things needed to go, and some things needed to move up in terms of priority.  Here are a few examples:

  • Intelligence.  Tony Robbins added Intelligence to his list.  According to Tony Robbins, “I began to realize that one of the things that wasn’t on my list was intelligence.  Certainly was an intelligent person, but I hadn’t made being intelligent as high a priority as being passionate.  In fact, in my passion I’d made some pretty stupid choices — including who my CEO was going to be! I began to realize that unless I made intelligence a conscious priority in my nervous system (i.e., unless I learned to take a moment or two in advance to consciously evaluate the consequences of my decision making), I would continuously fail to achieve my deepest desires.  There was now no question that intelligence needed to be placed high on my list.”
  • Freedom.  Tony Robbins removed Freedom from his list of values.  According to Tony Robbins, “I began to realize that by constantly focusing on how to be free, I was missing out on the freedom I already had.  I realized that there was no way I could be any more free than I was in this moment.  Maybe my feelings would be different if I lived in a country where the choices I have here don’t exist, but for me, there is no way to have any more freedom than I have today.  So I decided to drop it from my list and not to make it an issue anymore.  It was amazing the freedom I felt by getting freedom off my list!”
  • Passion.  Tony Robbins moved Passion down further on his list.  According to Tony Robbins, “Then I asked a question that kind of scared me, a question I had never asked before: ‘What could having passion at the top of my list cost me?’ In that moment, the answer became obvious.  I had just recently returned from conducting a seminar in Denver, where for the first time in years, I had felt unbelievably ill.  Health was always on my values list; it was very important.  But it wasn’t very high up on the list.  I began to realize that by having passion as the highest value on my list, it would cause me to burn out and therefor potentially cost me the very destiny that I was pursuing.”

Two Steps to Take Control of Your Values

To take control of your values, Tony Robbins recommends a two step process:

  1. Step 1. Find out what your current values are, and rank them in order of importance.
  2. Step 2: Ask yourself a new question: “What do my values need to be in order to achieve the destiny I desire and deserve?”  Brainstorm out a list.  Put them in order.  See which values you might get rid of and which values you might add in order to create the quality of life you truly want.

Own your values.  Shape your destiny.

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Image by Alden Jewell.


  1. What an inspiring post! One that ties in with my post on choosing yardsticks today. Coincidentally I wrote V for Values a couple of days ago (as part of the A to Z Challenge). I love the 2-step message at the end of this post, JD! This is a great start to my day!

    • It’s really got me doing a re-think of my values.

      Now that I look at how Tony sequenced his, I see how it plays out in his work and life.

      I’m especially surprised by how high Intelligence is on his list. Recently, I’ve been refocusing on intelligence: emotional intelligence, financial intelligence, physical intelligence, social intelligence, etc.

  2. Methinks Tony is an extravert.

    Here is me imagining a taoist masters 5 questions.
    How do I leave no footprints?
    What do I need to let go of?
    What else so I need to surrender?
    In what way am I not flowing like water?
    How do I live in harmony with the tao?

    I don’t mean to suggest that Tony’s values are wrong. I think they are all great. But I do want to point out how much our values are choices and that when choosing values we tend to think inside the box.

    • It sounds like somebody read the Tao Te Ching 😉

      I think the key insight Tony shared is that values *should* be choices, but 1) most people aren’t *aware* of their values, 2) when they figure out their values, they go with their defaults instead of choosing values by design.

      The beauty of his 5 questions is they operate at the meta-level, so whatever values and path you choose is yours; the questions just help you make your choices more conscious, deliberate, and explicit.

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