What do you value?

Yellow Conference, an annual gathering empowering creative women to become agents of good, has come and gone, but this question from communication pro Holley Murchison sticks with me still:

“What do you value?”

Value. A word that bears such importance, yet impotence, all at the same time.

Over my 30 years, the v-word has been assigned to money. “What’s the value of this car?”; “a depreciating value”; and so on. Of course a word this weighty would come to be commoditized.

As we get older, however, and we begin to question the intention behind our choices, this word takes on a deeper meaning. Deep questions require deeper dives:

1. the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.
2. a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.

“On your chair, you’ll find a postcard with a series of deep questions,”

Golriz Lucina, SoulPancake co-founder, directed. As the first speaker at Yellow 2017 and the originator of a media company dedicated to explore “life’s big questions”, Golriz wasted no time skating past the shallows.

“Turn to someone you don’t know and pick a question to ask.” 

I turned to the woman behind me: Katie, a teacher from Pasadena who wanted more than anything to start a running group.

“How do you know you’ve made the right decision?” Katie asked, selecting a question at random off the postcard.

“I know I’ve made the right decision… when I feel it in my gut,” I answered—an abstract feeling you can never quite catch. Instead, it catches you.

What do you value? Questions from Golriz Lucina of SoulPancake inspired us to dive in deep at Yellow Conference 2017.

Golriz Lucina opened up the conference by inspiring us to dive deep.

Without knowing, Katie picked the perfect question for me. After rising quickly in my career, I’d had enough. A gnawing entity entered my gut and wouldn’t relent. And so, in August 2015 after 5 years in the advertising world, I followed that gut feeling and quit my job to explore the world.

This small act of courage led to decision after decision following my gut. Courage is like a muscle; the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.

Walking away from the career I’d spent my life chasing led me to a life worth building, beginning with a 6-month humanitarian trip across Hawaii, India, and Thailand. It was here where I grew in my faith as a follower of Christ and a leader of young adults and children. Using my passion for film and words, I spent day after day calling people higher into their unshakeable identity: Beloved. Accepted. Filled with purpose.

Fast forward to August of 2017 and I still have yet to find my “dream job.” I’ve faced closed door after closed door from companies I thought were it; walked away from opportunities where I, too, thought I’d fit.

Not exactly the dream ending for this wild one.

The good news? I’m not yet at the end. And neither are you. With each new day, we have the chance to begin again.

But the beginning is not where we crave to be. The makeover montages in cinema; the highlight reel that is social media: they glorify quick climbs up the mountain. However, as anyone who’s scaled Everest can attest, reaching that peak takes months—years, even—of arduous work.

What do you value? Makeover montages are fun onscreen, but rarely is life this exciting and quick.

Those makeover montages that make us “ooh” and “ahh”? Yeah. Not real life.

Climbing is not for the faint of heart. Neither is pursuing passion. Like a fire that burns, passion cannot endure without the proper fuel.

Life is not a highlight reel, and those who quit pursuing their passions early on, lacked the fuel to keep going on. Which is why knowing and owning our values, the fuel behind the feeling, is so vital.

Knowing my values when I chose, each time, to bypass those open doors might have granted me more peace in the moment. Instead, I wasted hours questioning each step past the glimmers of gold I knew weren’t mine to hold.

I knew I had to answer that question.

“What do you value?”

I labored on this Labor Day weekend, attempting to dig up the answer to an inquiry so abstract. Google led me to this exhaustive list of over 200 values, a guide assigning names to the gnawing in my gut.

It’s interesting what happens when we do the deep work to answer questions such as these. I wonder if we sometimes avoid asking these questions at all, afraid to shed light on a gap between what we truly want, and where we are today. But it’s questions likes these—”what do you value?”—that lead to align our present with the future we deserve to create.

And so, I ask you the questions that have rocked me:

  1. What do you value? (If you struggle to put a name to the face, perhaps this list will help)
  2. How have your values led to where you are today? Or:
  3. If a gap remains between your values and your present day, do you plan to align them?
    1. If so, how?
    2. If not, what’s holding you back?

Thanks for reading, and really, I want to hear your answers.

May asking the tough questions lead to the answers you—and your gut—so seek.


Hey there! I’m Cheryl Elizaga, but you can call me Ché (Shay): a creative living in the in-between but choosing joy each day. This post is part of my #100DaysofWriting Challenge, because words are my weapon but consistency, my Achilles’ heel. So join me on this bumpy ride; let’s laugh, let’s talk, and maybe cry… thank you for sticking with me.

Header Photo by Jake Thacker on Unsplash


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