Articulating a value in words doesn't necessarily help you live it better. But you still might want to write out a value you have for various reasons, including:

  1. To tell someone what's important to you.
  2. To find others who share the value, by circulating a text.
  3. On a design project, to set a clear objective, or to check if users share the value, and whether your design helps them live by it.
  4. To inspire strangers. If you phrase your value correctly, people who don't have that value yet might see the wisdom in your value when they read it. They will think to themselves "I could try being that way!".

Each of these has different requirements, in terms of copy. But there are some things to keep in mind that will help with all four.

Here we'll walk you through the steps towards writing out a value.

Note: The values written here and in the following examples are pretty condensed. Sometimes it helps to write very expansively and then focus, and sometimes the value demands lengthy descriptions.


Make sure what you are trying to write is a value.

The 3 Parts of a Value

An articulated value should have three parts. (1) The Context, (2) The Attentional Policy, and (3) The Source of Meaning. The most important part (and usually the trickiest to articulate well) is the (2) Attentional Policy.

The general formula is:


Here are 3 examples:

Note: Avoid Vagueness and Poetry The most common error is vagueness. Values are precise enough to guide you in specific concrete situations that you face in life.