Being stuck in decision paralysis is real. This might be because you have made the ‘wrong’ decision before or you aren’t sure about the future and how it will all turn out.

Honestly, either of those reasons feeds into your decision paralysis, but digging a layer deeper is more important and effective.

It’s knowing not just what your values are, but in what order you follow your values.

For the month of June, I am giving you some amaze-balls strategic planning action steps to follow. Last week I shared the 4 Reasons to Expand (Not Grow) Your Nonprofit or Freelance Consultancy. We will continue how to not just survive the pandemic, but how to thrive utilizing basic action steps.

Keep reading if you resonate with one of the following:

Nonprofit Leaders and Freelance Consultants: This is for you if:

  • You are not sure where to even start with pivoting your organization in the new normal
  • You take on projects sometimes that you want to avoid completing and aren’t sure why
  • You have a really hard time making decisions

As we follow through on the series this month, we are doing to discuss how to know when to cut your expenses in order how to expand.

Find Your Former Values or List Values Now

The first thing you are going to do is to list your values for your nonprofit or freelance business.

Tony Robbins says, “Values guide our every decision and, therefore, our destiny.”

So, what are these things that guide us in life and in business?

These are what your nonprofit or business values most and wants to place importance on.

I am going to use an example from the values in my business Grant Writing & Funding; however, if you want more examples to further value words click over to

First, I want to tell you what my values were from a few years ago.

  • Innovative
  • Quality
  • Integrity, Honesty
  • Knowledge
  • Diversity (people, platforms)
  • Passion
  • Sustainability, Abundance
  • Equality

Now I want you to take a minute and write down your values. Once again if you want a list of value words to help you brainstorm, see below:

50 Examples of Core Value Words: (click here for these and more, ContentSparks)

Sustainability Innovation Excellence
Reliability Loyal Committed
Dependable Passionate Courageous
Respectful Inspiring Honesty
Integrity Consistent Efficient
Humorous Optimistic Positive
Nurturing Open-minded Adventurous
Resourceful Customer Service Fun
Humble Community Responsibility
Quality Satisfaction Delight
Support Caring Partnership
Best Value Global
Transformation Leadership Teamwork
Diversity Humility Transparency
Results Fanatical Friends
Family Listening Learning
Educating Remarkable

List Your New Values and Find Emotional / Active Words

I just recently evaluated my values. Yes, peeps, I also first do and test all the action steps I teach in the podcast!

Now here you are going to notice that some of my values have changed this year. So even if you have done this in the past for your nonprofit or business, I want you to do it again. There’s a reason for this.

I am going to show you what my new values are in 2020 and then I am going to describe why I changed them. So after I am done explaining it might give you some ideas or questions to ask in knowing if your values are still relevant or aligned.

Plus, be sure to re-evaluate your values and see if they are action words and evoke emotion.

2020 Values for Grant Writing & Funding

  1. Courage
  2. Mindfulness (social, environmental, racial, & gender)
  3. Value
  4. Abundance & Focus with Ease
  5. Fun
  6. Diversity
  7. Adaptability
  8. Connecting
  9. Learning

You might have noticed that I changed some of these words or deleted others. This is not necessarily because they no longer are priorities to me, but a different word may resonate more with me.

For example, I took off the word innovative completely. That is not because innovation is no longer important to me, but I was in a very focused ‘creator space’ last year. Now my three Master Courses have been developed. Plus, what I realized is that innovation was causing some stress in my life. I felt it was like being in a content hamster wheel. What I really felt was a better word that still addresses silver linings was the word adaptability. To me, that is a word that really resonates more as I do not have to create something new necessarily, i.e. another product or service, but I can tweak and adapt what I offer. My business is now mature enough to be in this space.

Another word I changes was from quality to value. In this way instead of getting into a perfectionist niche of maybe not even launching a product because I am too focused on the quality, I now ask, ‘Does it add value?’ This has helped me deliver speed to market on products and services instead of hashing it out for six months and then it might no longer be valuable. Now don’t get me wrong, I still want quality in my products and services but it’s not the driver. The perfect cheese crust pizza of high quality is of no interest to me because I do not eat gluten.

I took off the words integrity and honesty altogether. What? It’s not because I want to be a shady person now! Lol. It’s because I integrated another word that encompasses integrity and honesty for me. That is courage.

For me being courageous means being honest with myself and having integrity. How, you might ask? Well, if someone asks me to do something or offers me a cool opportunity to be a part of but it just isn’t congruent or leads to my goals in life, I use courage to say ‘no.’ This is me being honest with myself and, as a result, with others.

I remember one of the best ways that I said ‘no’ to an amazing opportunity. It was a chance to have a contract for another year with a great client to do more of the same it what I had been doing. The money was okay, but the time it took me away from what I wanted to develop in my business made me irritated every time I did the work. Because I am someone who believes that integrity and courage also mean finishing what I commit to 110%, I knew I could not commit again. Even without any sure contracts in the next year, I said “No, thank you. I appreciate the offer, but I have to be honest and let you know that I won’t be able to commit 110% to the project and your project deserves that attention.” Maybe I was being too honest, but interestingly enough a few months later I heard that same person use that exact same line to decline an opportunity that was presented to her.

I also swapped the word knowledge with learning. I realized that knowledge without application isn’t very powerful, so I wanted to put learning there. Yes, learning and growing are very important to me. How can I lead others if I am not learning and growing myself? Therefore, I felt like this was a better word with more action and umph behind it.

I ‘gulp’ removed the word passion. This was real to me, but I realized with all my other words there is the passion behind it. Plus, I instead added the word fun. I realized in the last several years I have been grinding so much that a lot of the time I just do not take the time to have fun.

Wow, that was a realization because having fun is one of the top things I love to do. But my nose has been to the grind a lot that I was not giving it room. Instead of showing up to people with passion, why can’t I show up with fun? This feels so much better to me.

For the phrase sustainability and abundance, I instead switched it to a couple of other items. As far as sustainability, I melded it into mindfulness. I will touch on more of that in a second. And with the abundance, I made it into its own category and added Abundance and Focus with Ease. This might seem weird, but the word abundance too broad and static to me.

I want to be excited when I read my values, so I need to have more movement with the word. When I added the phrase abundance and focus with ease, now I have emotion behind it. So, what does this mean to me? This is another turn in getting away from the grind. I know that I can have an abundance when my energy is focused and when I am not in scarcity thinking. So, this creates more of that feeling and acceptance.

Now back to the word mindfulness. This is a new value. I also took off equality from my old list because, to me, mindfulness really encompasses equality and sustainability. As an example, the #blacklivesmatter movement has really been eye-opening from a race perspective. In fact, I even looked at my podcast interviews to see if equality has played a part if my actions.  What I found was that of the number of interview podcasts I have had 50% have been with people of color and 63% have been women. So that made me realize that having values, and knowing that I am following them, truly does influence what I produce and what I attract. This is extremely important to me as it reflects my values of equality, however I do not want this to be just an after-fact. Instead, I want to make mindful decisions before they happen, such as reaching out to more diverse groups of people.

But mindfulness to me means more than racial equality. It also enables me a space to see if the products and subscriptions and clients that I serve also share my values. Are the items I source ethically and environmentally sustainable? Do I promote gender equality? What issues do I really care about and am passionate about? This, to me, is once again more of an action word that inspires me to pause and question so I can create a business I am proud of and has an expanding and powerful impact beyond teaching others to write grants or get funding for their business.

And, finally, connecting is another value I have added. To me, I love connecting and inspiring others. I absolutely love interviewing people, collaborating with other experts, working with the members of my courses, and coaching. It really brings me a feeling of fulfillment.

Prioritize Your Values

Now that you have a great list of values, I want you to do another step. I am not sure if you caught it when I read the difference between my value list from last year and this year, but here it is – I prioritized my values. This has been a HUGE and powerful shift.

Before I just listed my values in no particular order. This is what a lot of us do, but the thing is when making decisions pulling from your values is the smartest thing you can do to make sure everything you do is aligned. For example, a grant opportunity might come up for a nonprofit, but if it does not align with your values or mission and vision statements then you should not go for it. I call it ‘chasing the money’ when nonprofits get distracted with the ceiling amount of a grant opportunity and go after it even if it doesn’t align with their values. This can also happen to freelancers. You may get a nonprofit client, but then see there is some shady back office going ons. If integrity is one of your values what do you think you should do? You should cut ties as soon as possible. Even if you have no other clients. Believe me, if you have clients that just don’t align with your values that is going to be a no-win situation.

As John Wooden says, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

However, you might (and probably do) have some values on your list that can conflict. If you do not prioritize these values, it can lead to a lot of confusion on your part. For example, your values could include both integrity and commitment. Without knowing it, commitment might be a higher-level value on your list as follow-through and getting the job done is more highly valued than integrity. But if you aren’t sure what is more important to you, than you are going to beat yourself up and punish yourself for not following up on your values.

Whereas if you know your values, you might have these internal discussions: “Hmm, I took on this client and have a contract so getting this contract completed is super important even though there is a little shadiness going on. But, hey, I am not 100% sure if it’s legal so I’ll just finish up my contract.”

However, if integrity is higher up on the list compared to commitment, then you might think, “That looks shady and if I support them in getting money then I might be taking away from someone who would use the money better. Plus, the nonprofit might get in trouble with the IRS and I do not want my name associated with them. I am going to cut ties immediately and try to find another client that would use this grant better.”

You can see by prioritizing your values it can really help you make tough and easy decisions that align with how you want to run your nonprofit or business. Believe me, congruency is so critical to moving your forward.

So, go ahead and now prioritize your values. Make sure you don’t place a value that you think should be higher but it’s not unless you really want to make an effort to re-prioritize.

For example, courage is my highest value right now. Does it mean I am always courageous? No. But after really thinking and evaluating I realized if I want my business and life to be where I want it to be that courage will need to be my highest priority and I am willing to get excited every day about having the courage and to make it my highest value.

Ask How Your Values Impact Your Projects

Ask yourself if there is something in your nonprofit or business that does not align with these values. Is there something that just feels off to you when you think about it?

You know what I mean. Your heart races a bit and you get nervous or an insecure feeling. That is usually because it just does not jive with your values. Now that you have them listed down it will be very powerful for you to cut or strategize that project or item. Maybe you know that someone has not been pulling their weight in your nonprofit and commitment is a high value for you. This would be a great time to do values with that person, because you might find that ‘being heard’ is a high value for them and they haven’t been able to voice their stress with having to work home right now with a toddler.

My daughter and I even did our values and then prioritized them. This gave me great insight into some areas where she needs more support from me.

So to recap:

  1. List all of your values for your nonprofit or business
  2. Evaluate them and see if they really are the main values
    1. Brainstorm new values
    2. Read them out loud and see if they are action words and have emotional meaning for you
  3. Prioritize them
  4. Look at your products/services and see if there is something that is not congruent with your values and needs to be strategized or cut.

List of Sources and Data

  1. Awaken the Gian Within by Tony Robbins
  2. Ep. 124: 4 Reasons to Expand (Not Grow) Your Nonprofit or Freelance Consultancy
  3. ContentSparks Big List of Core Value Words

And just as a reminder, if you want more in-depth tools in expanding, specifically 47 videos and 25 checklists and templates, then check out my Nonprofit Strategic Planning Course. For the month of June, I am giving a $100 discount for my Nonprofit Strategic Planning Master Course, so if you are interested check it out!

Course for strategic planning nonprofit organizations