A Guide to Identifying Your Core Values

  • Time to read: 5 min.

In order to live a happy and fulfilled life, it is important to know what your core values are. These are the fundamental beliefs that guide your actions and decisions. Identifying your values is an important first step in creating a life that is in alignment with who you are and what you believe in. Learning how to identify your core values can help you realize what is most important to you.

What Are Core Values?

Core values are what makes you tick. They dictate what you care most about in this life. Ideally, all decisions are better decisions based on your values. Unfortunately, sometimes we make mistakes, and our core values fall to the wayside. But if you focus your decision-making on your core values, you will be happy with the life you are living.

Some core values include:

Core values make each of us unique, and they are at the very center of our hearts. However, they can change over time as you grow and learn. These values can be things you already value in yourself or things you want to focus more energy on.

Why Are Core Values Important?

Core values are like the Northern Star leading you in the right direction. When followed, you will know you made the right decision for you. When you feel lost or unsure, return to your values. They will remind you what you care about the most and help you decide what to do.

When you ask, am I staying true to myself?, you are asking if your values guides your life and decisions. Which one do I wish to hold onto, change, or leave behind? When you are in touch with your values, you are more likely to be content and at peace with the life you are building.

Another reason core values are necessary is for relationship compatibility. We are drawn to and connect with others who reflect our values. This attraction will give us a sense of belonging in the world. So, you will likely want to surround yourself with people who share some values with you.

How To Get In Touch With Your Core Values

It may feel hard to weed out what you care about the most in your life to find your core values so take your time to explore your thoughts and beliefs. It is easy to care about many things and not know what you value over everything else.

Core values don’t have to be in a hierarchical numerical order. Instead, they can be a list of things you want to guide your path. Some ways to identify your personal values are introspection, using a list, journaling, and reflecting on past decisions.

1. Introspection

Observe what thoughts and emotions arise within you in various situations and circumstances. Explore yourself by asking questions such as:

  • What makes you happy?
  • What makes you feel proud of yourself?
  • What makes you feel ashamed?

Think back to your childhood.

  • What values did your family teach you?
  • Do they still resonate with you?

2. Use a list

Consider searching on the internet, talking to others about their core value, and making a list of what you have learned. It will help to create a sheet with three categories to place the beliefs:

  1. Things you already value in yourself.
  2. Things you want to change.
  3. Things you want to incorporate or grow.

Consider each category and value and cross out ones that don’t automatically resonate with you. Now go through the list again and circle the ones that stand out to you as things you believe or want to have as a core belief with you.

For example, if you have a habit of lying, you may want to focus on honesty and turn it into a core value. Or, if you feel that you hide to please others, you might want to put more time into authenticity. If you appreciate your huge heart, you may circle caring or love. If you have a daily gratitude practice, place a circle around the word gratitude. Splitting your core values into sections can help you narrow down what is most important.

3. Journaling

Sometimes you have too many thoughts swirling around in your head. When you think about something as big and complex as core values, you might not know where to begin. If researching core values and making lists feels daunting, then consider picking up a journal to write in a bit at a time.

Write down one or two values that immediately come to mind and write about them. Try not to judge what you write, whether positive or negative. For example, if honesty is at the forefront of your mind, jot it down. Now you can journal about it over time.

Write about times you were dishonest, or you were lied to. Write about the big truths that you shared even though you were scared. Write about why honesty in your friendships and relationships is essential and what feelings and thoughts arise within you. In the end, honesty doesn’t have to be one of your core values, but writing can help you work out your thoughts and feelings to know what you want and don’t want.

Another journalling approach is to be more general in your writing and write about your life. Write about your day, what you like about your friendships and relationships, your hobbies. Let a few days pass, then go back and reread what you wrote to see if there are any common threads. For example, maybe you wrote about your enjoyment when dancing, doing karaoke, and kayaking, so the thread between them may be that you have a core value of fun.

On the other hand, if you find your writing was focused on friends and family, perhaps a core value that is a part of you is connection.

4. Reflecting On Your Past Decisions

Life is a series of decisions that each of us has made. So first, think about all the hard choices you’ve had to make in your life. hen, consider both the ones you are proud of and the ones you are not proud of.

Reflecting on your past can help you identify choices you’ve made, what motivated those choices, and whether you are happy with the outcome. Being human is exciting as each of us may have similarities we also have a unique set of core values, which makes us unique. Our core values are integral to who we are.

When we can get in touch with our core values, we make better decisions and live our lives more true to who we are. Knowing what’s most important to you in this life will make every aspect of your life a lot easier.

Final Thoughts

Core values dictate everything you do, and it’s easy to feel lost when you don’t know your core values, so explore who you are, what your core values are, and live a full life.

Living your life mindfully will help you firm up your core values.  Take some time to explore your core values.

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