Core values are your fundamental beliefs and highest priorities. They are like an internal compass of beliefs and principles that drive your decisions. Even now, you make decisions based on some beliefs, but these may not have been chosen consciously.
Defining your personal values can help you shape your life the way you want it to be. And knowing your personal brand/organization’s values will define your business. Rarely there is only one choice and one solution to a problem, so how do you decide which option is better for you and your brand? Let’s explore a simple example to illustrate the importance of core values in decision-making.
A Simple Example of Core Values in Action
Imagine you had an offer from a trustworthy business partner to create a free online course. You both work in the same industry and are experts in what you do. You could most definitely share your knowledge and experience with others.
If you don’t know your values, the decision you make may be defined by fear of not being good enough. You decide not to do it because even though you spent 3–4 years doing your work, you feel it is not enough. Without considering, it further, you decide it’s not for you.
If your values are growth and helping others, you may decide to create the course because it will align with your values. Training others will help you grow as a teacher, and you will support your students in becoming better qualified at their job. The fear of not being enough will still be there, but knowing your values and consciously following your path will overshadow it.
On the other hand, if your values are wealth and balance, you may decide not to work on the free courses as it would mean the work will take over your life and the work-life balance could be affected.
This is just a simple example of how deliberately choosing your values can change the way you conduct your business.
Why Knowing Your Core Values is Important?
Our life choices are based on our values. Thanks to them, you are able to decide what is vital in your life. The core values are the fuel that pushes your life forward and directs you toward your goals.
You need to know your values to take the first step in the right direction. They will also help you understand yourself a bit better, make you more assertive, and support you with setting priorities and goals. Values are strong beliefs that you hold. It can be something that is essential for your life to be in alignment and something that you cannot live without.
Usually, values are expressed as nouns, i.e. tradition, freedom, growth, family.
Even if you don’t know your values now, your whole life is directed by them. You may not be aware of what they are, but almost certainly, you’ve inherited some from people around you.
If your father always said that family is the most important thing in life, and you believe that until this day – his value became yours (it is not good or bad, but you should be aware of this).
Your mother always said lying is wrong, you may have adopted that belief and it has become your core value. However, how you look at things will depend on: is all lying wrong? What about telling your children about Santa? What if the truth hurts your loved ones? If the TRUTH is high up your values list, you may look at these questions in black and white: all lying is wrong.
Discovering Your Core Values: A Step-by-Step Exercise
Now that you know what core values are and how they can help your life become more in alignment with you, start by choosing your own values.
1. Find the time and place:
Defining your core values is not something you can do in a rush, without a thought. Find time in your day when you can relax without interruptions, so you can focus on the task. Switch off your phone (or put the aeroplane mode on) or leave it in another room. You can go for a run, make yourself a cup of coffee, and meditate. Just let your thoughts flow uninterrupted. Have some pen and paper with you to make notes of your thought process.
2. Think about your past:
Focus on your family and upbringing – what are the most common themes you remember growing up. Take each person close to you and examine how their presence affects you. Ask yourself: Why do I look up to this person? What makes them unique? What values guide their actions? Are these values something I could adopt?
3. Analyze your choices:
Who are your closest friends? How do you respond to problems? And how do you take wins? How do you treat people around you? Examining your choices in life and what they have been dictated by will show you what are your current values.
4. Choose your core values:
Use the list of 100 values provided below to go through each step of the exercise and choose your TOP 10 Core Values.
List of 100 Values to Choose From
Choose 5 values that you want to define your life
These values are those that are your primary values. Make a note of them, memorize them, and use them in your daily life.
Every day, look around you: who did you meet today? Analyse whether your values are compatible with this person’s values. Keep that in mind, especially when you are about to start working together. If your values are different and even in contradiction to yours, you will subconsciously sabotage that project. What’s more, your collaborator may have a bad influence on you, and you start doing things that are against your beliefs. What you want is people around you, whose values match yours, or whose priorities work well with yours.
Take your time with this exercise, and don’t be afraid to revisit it over time, as your life experiences might influence your core values. Once you have identified your core values, use them as a guide in your decision-making process, both in your personal and professional life. They will help you to stay true to yourself and create a life that aligns with your highest priorities and beliefs.