Do you want to live a life of integrity in which your actions align with your personal list of values and beliefs? Great.
Core values point the needle of your compass, illuminating the pathway toward living a meaningful life — one that’s filled with passion and purpose.
Instead of allowing outside influences like media, pop culture, or social environment to shape your life, you can be true to yourself.
Researchers confirm that when people have a clear set of core values:
- It’s easier to make big life decisions
- They are less likely to engage in destructive thought patterns
- They tolerate physical pain more easily
- They have greater self-discipline and focus
Let’s begin by looking inward to discover what really matters to you. Everyone is different.
That’s why I don’t recommend jumping ahead to the list and choosing words that sound good. Instead, pick up a pen and paper, and reflect.
Below are some questions to help you start this exploration. The answers you write down are clues you can use to identify your core value system.
1. Who do you admire?
To better understand what you value, it can help to turn to real-life examples of people who exhibit admirable qualities. Think of some positive role models who inspire you to live a meaningful life.
This could include people you know personally, famous figures, characters in a book, etc.
As you think about these people, write down:
- what it is about them that inspires you
- the admirable qualities they possess
- behaviors and actions you would like to emulate
2. What inspires you to take action?
Often our core values reveal themselves through our actions. Can you think of a situation when you took a stand for someone or something?
Try writing down some of the reasons you felt so strongly to take action. For example:
- the feelings that motivated you to speak up or act
- what you were willing to risk in that situation
- the results of taking action — what you gained or lost
3. When do you feel most like yourself?
When you’re in situations that allow you to be authentic, that’s a clue that you are in alignment with your values. And when you have to betray yourself to fit in or find success, you feel ashamed and alone.
In situations that feel wrong in some way, what’s going on? Write down:
- who you’re with
- what feelings are triggered
- what these experiences cost you emotionally or physically
In situations where you feel real and authentic, what’s going on? Write down:
- who you’re with
- what activities are involved
- positive emotions or outcomes of these experiences
If you found it hard to put words to the qualities, emotions, and ideas in the exercises above, it may help to look through some examples.
Take some time to explore this list of values and beliefs, and consider which ones resonate with you:
Core Values List
- Work Smarter and Harder
- Personal Development
- This Too Shall Pass Attitude
- Love of Career
- Pride in Your Work
- Be True
- Trusting Your Gut
- Giving People a Chance
Now that you’ve got plenty of ideas, you can begin to narrow it down to a few that could become the basis of your core value system.
Here are some questions to help you see where these values show up in your life:
- How do you define this value?
- What actions and activities reflect this value?
- What else could you do to further align yourself with this value?
- Could you do more to include this value in your daily life?