WhatsNext.com recently launched a free online tool called the Life Values Self-Assessment Test (LVAT), a new instrument designed to help people get insight into how to order their life priorities. The test has been extremely well received, with over 1,000 people completing the exercise in just a matter of weeks. The feedback from the life and career coaching community has also been very positive, with several coaches writing to say they intend to use the LVAT with their clients as a tool in the personal coaching process. The LVAT is a free service available to anyone who visits the site and completes a simple registration. (To access the LVAT now, click on Life Values Self-Assessment Test.)
The engine of the Life Values Self-Assessment Test is a well established decision-making protocol for rank ordering preferences, which is applied to a list of eleven core values chosen explicitly for their relevance to individuals in mid-life transition. The tool works by presenting the participant with a series of paired comparisons in which each value is individually matched against each other value in a randomized sequence. Participants are asked to choose which of the two values presented is more important for them to focus on at this particular point in time in their lives. By analyzing the results of the resulting 55 paired comparisons, the tool calculates a rank order of the eleven values from most important to least important, and the results are then presented back to the participant.
Of course, individuals could rank order their values on a purely intuitive basis. However, the strength of the the LVAT is the systematic comparison of each value to each other value, which creates an engaging and intellectually stimulating experience for the participant while also producing a more objectively determined outcome.
The ranking of values and priorities that results from the LVAT provides a thought-provoking focal point for individuals who are dealing with the challenges of midlife career change or retirement transition. The ranking can also be used by coaches as a starting point for discussing life priorities with clients.
Patterns Revealed From Initial Test Results
While the LVAT is specifically designed as a tool to be used on an individual level, it is nonetheless interesting to look at the test results in aggregate and the window that those results provide into the priorities of men and women who are in the process of midlife transition.
- An analysis of the results of tests taken to date reveal that Financial Resources, Family, and Work Satisfaction are the top priorities for those individuals who have taken the test, while Leisure Activities, Leadership, and Public Service are at the bottom.
|Overall Rank||Value/Priority||Avg. Rank|
|5||Home and Place||5.34|
|6||Health and Fitness||6.01|
Analyzing the test results by demographic segment reveals some interesting patterns:**
Test Results by Age
- Overall, participants over 55 years old put a higher emphasis on Health/Fitness and Friends, while those under 55 put more importance on Family, Work Satisfaction, and Leadership.
- Looking only at women, those over 55 place relatively more importance on Personal Growth and Leisure Activities, while younger women place more importance on Family. Among men, those over 55 place a higher priority on Health/Fitness and Friends, while those under 55 feel the need to focus more on Work Satisfaction and Home & Place.
Test Results by Gender
- Men and women rank order priorities similarly, with the exception that men overall feel a greater need to focus attention on Personal Growth and women feel the need to focus more attention on Spirituality.
- When looking within age categories, women under 55 place a higher priority on Health/Fitness, Home & Place, and Spirituality than men in the same age group, whereas men place more importance on Leisure Activities. Interestingly, there were no significant differences in the way men and women rank order their priorities among the over 55 group.
- It is worth noting that while most values shifted rank between the various demographic sub-segments, Financial Resources was consistently the top priority on average for every segment measured. On an individual basis over 53% of test participants ranked Financial Resources in their top three priorities, while fewer than 3% ranked this value at the bottom of their list. This tells us that both men and women, regardless of age, see the need to maintain financial security as one of their top priorities.
*Click here for a list of definitions of life values
**Click here to access detailed results by demographic segment.