Nicole Aloni

Why have we chosen the path of personal chef? A few reasons come to mind. We love to take care of others. We love cooking. And we want control over our careers so we can live a more fulfilling life on our own terms. But, even with the best of intentions and drive, we’re people and we often come up short in meeting our goals and living our dreams. The new year is a time of reflection and re-evaluation, of setting new goals and re-motivating ourselves for the future. So, we’re lucky that life and career coach (and chef) Nicole Aloni has offered to write a three-part series to guide us in how to bring more ease, more fulfillment, and more mastery to every aspect of our life–from our careers to our relationships. Nicole feels that these are some of the most valuable skills she shares with her coaching clients. Nicole is a long-time friend of APPCA and has given inspiring programs at several of our national meetings.

In this three-part series, Three Keys for Personal Chefs to Enjoy More Balance and Fulfillment in 2015 (heck, any year), Nicole will discuss:

Part 1: Discovering Your Personal Values
Part 2 (in February): How to Identify and Manage Your Gremlins (your internal sabateurs)
Part 3 (in March): Nicole’s favorite techniques for managing stress and enhancing your sense of well being and joy

Discovering Your Personal Values
by Nicole Aloni

We are all on a hero’s journey toward discovering our true life’s purpose—the impact we were born to make on the planet. When we have discovered that path and step in to it, our lives feel full, balanced, and joyous.

To understand and embrace your unique role, it’s essential for you to come to understand what your values are. Firstly—values are not morals. Your values are those energies or qualities without which your life is flat, frustrating, and out-of-sync feeling—and often not as successful as you would like. For example, one of your top values might be receiving recognition/being number one. That is not a moral choice; it is who you are. There is nothing inherently virtuous (or not) in your values. What is important is not the value itself but the degree to which you are fully living it in your day-to-day life.

When you understand your values and then use them as the benchmarks by which you measure all major decisions, your life will come to feel easy, joyous, exciting. You will feel in “flow.” You can wisely assess each decision or opportunity to see whether your top values will be honored or trampled by making that choice and decide accordingly. Making these kind of informed choices will help you find and stay on your own, personal path of flow and fulfillment.

So, it’s essential that you do the work to identify these values that are intrinsic to you—as unique as your DNA. This values discovery is often the work of a focused session or two with your coach. But you can do much of this on your own.

A Values Exercise
Think of a fantastically happy time in your past. Isolate a three- or four-minute snapshot of a time when you felt on top of the world. Were you lying on the beach in Phuket with your toes being lapped by gentle waves? Picking up your baby for the first time? Making a perfect run through powder down a 5-diamond run?

Close your eyes and bring this experience to mind as vividly as you can. Really feel it. Now ask yourself: What made this experience truly marvelous and amazing? Was it my feeling of adventurousness? My sense of mastery? Of independence or vitality? Serenity or the honoring of family? These are values. (Below is a list of some other values that may resonate with you.)

Start your list with the two or three words that are clearly popping out of your experience. Those are values that were being fully honored in that moment. That’s why you felt so alive, plugged-in!

Because our feelings are so complex, most people find it useful to use a string of two or three words to really fully embody a value. And the more absolute specificity and clarity you can achieve, the more powerful this knowledge will be for you moving forward. For instance, consider how different the meaning expressed by the values string of spirituality/love/risk-taking is from spirituality/service to others/intuition.

Ultimately, we are looking for a list of your top 10 values (each probably a string of powerful words as above) that you will order from #1 (most essential to your life, your well-being—this is the one you know you can’t live without) and so on to #10.

This will likely change over time. The order in which you rank your values may shift, and some values may actually slip off the list to be replaced by something new. Lives change. We evolve. And it’s great to check in with this a couple of times a year throughout your life.

Finally, forgive and appreciate yourself just as you are today—about to begin this journey. You are already great!


Nicole is the author of three books about the art of cooking and entertaining: The Backyard Bartender, Secrets From A Caterer’s Kitchen and Cooking for Company. She is also a life and career coach, freelance writer, and teacher.

Nicole completed the diploma course at La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine in Paris, and then stayed on to work as a chef in France. In California, she owned her own restaurant and directed one of the country’s largest catering operations where she produced events for queens, divas, presidents and Julia Child. Nicole then opened her own high-end catering company, which also produced a line of gourmet food products for fine stores.

After completing her studies at the prestigious Coaches Training Institute, Nicole added whole life coaching for food professionals and others to her career. Nicole helps her clients discover what is possible for themselves and their business. She works with the whole person, bringing into balance the various aspects of life so clients not only reach their potential, but also find deep satisfaction and joy.

She coaches, cooks and entertains in Seattle, WA. You can reach Nicole at and

Values Thought-Starter List
(Keep in mind, the isn’t a shopping list, just a thought-starter. You may identify with some of these or your values may not appear here at all.)

Being the best
Peace of mind
Personal Growth
Receiving Recognition
Risk Taking
Service to others

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