Let’s break down the concept of personal core values. What are they and why are they so important? A core value is a principle you hold deeply important. It is a foundational aspect of the blueprint for your ideal life – a guiding principle or fundamental belief. Some examples of core values are commitment, responsibility, adventure, freedom, kindness, honesty.
Knowing what your core values are can be an important part of increasing your level of satisfaction and fulfillment. When the life you live is aligned with your values, you are living your best self.
It isn’t always possible to honor your most important values, but you may choose to prioritize one value over another. For example, say you get an urgent project right at lunchtime. You have many choices, but some you are considering are whether to work through your lunch hour or take your regular lunch break. What values might you be honoring by choosing to work through lunch? Possibly values like commitment, responsibility, and security. What values might you be honoring if you chose to take your lunch break instead? Perhaps connection, nourishment, rejuvenation, and/or freedom.
Whatever choice you make, and in my example above, both choices are valid, the biggest thing is to make the choice consciously. You have the power of choice in every moment. Life isn’t something that happens to you – you can design the life you want, piece by piece, choice by choice. You can always choose which values to honor in the moment.
How to discover your personal core values
There are a few techniques for discovering your core values, but here is one of my favorites.
Step 1: Think back to a time when you felt content. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, or even a time when you were ecstatic. It could be a simple yet fleeting moment you enjoyed, like a beautiful sunset you caught or time spent with loved ones. Write out or think about what you remember about your experience. Who was there? Where were you? What were you doing? What did it smell like?
Step 2: Write down all the values you embodied or honored in that moment. Were you authentic? Honest? Creative? Spontaneous? Try to come up with at least 10 values.
Step 3: Write down what you appreciated about the environment and people around you. What was it that made that moment special? Was it connection? Intimacy? Expansiveness? Try to find 10 more values.
Step 4: You should now have a list of 20 or more of the values that you aligned with in a moment of contentment. These are most likely your core values. Take a look at this list. Which of these are most important in the broader context of your life? Whittle it down to three or five words.
You’ve got your core values.
If you can’t think of a positive memory, don’t fret. You could run through this exercise from the opposite direction – what was a time where you were upset or disgruntled? What do you hate when people do? Why? What values of yours were you not honoring?
Once you’ve got your list, it’s time to incorporate those values into your daily life. Stay tuned for more!