Establishing personal core values for yourself will help you to live a more intentional and purposeful life.
What are core values? They define who you are as a person, and how and where you expend your time and energy. They encompass how you want to live your life.
Core values can help other people understand who you are. An example of this is using your core values in job applications and interviews.
They are not the same thing as goals, but they will help you create and achieve fulfilling goals. These core values are different for everyone, which is why it’s important to figure out what these values are for you.
There are hundreds of things you can choose as your core values. A few examples are authenticity, loyalty, optimism, and peace.
So how does one define personal values? Learn more about yourself by following these 5 steps!
Create a space that allows you to think. Having a clear mind, and uninterrupted thinking time is very important for this task.
Determining your values requires some digging, and it takes time in meditation. Don’t expect to do this in a matter of minutes.
The end goal is self-discovery and finding the values that truly mean the most to you. These values may even change over time and that is okay.
Identify your greatest achievements. What made those things your greatest achievements? What did you do well? Are there common themes between your achievements?
Next, identify your greatest failures. Why were these your greatest failures? What didn’t go well? What are the common themes between your failures?
Making these connections will help you identify commonalities between the highest and lowest moments in your life. You may be surprised at what you discover.
Define the lessons you have learned from each of these experiences in 1 sentence. What advice would you give yourself if you were to go back and do it again? What were the most important insights gained from your achievements and failures?
Reduce each sentence to a one-word value. Let’s say your lesson was, “Don’t be afraid to take chances.” You can reduce that down to the word “courageousness,” “boldness,” or “fearlessness.”
Try to come up with about 10 values, so you can reduce them down from there.
Lastly, pick 4-5 values that are most important to you. First, start by grouping common words together. Most likely, a few of your 10 values can be grouped together and described by one.
Let’s say you picked the words, service, kindness, and compassion. You may decide that these all fit under kindness. Kindness would then be one of your core values.
It’s important to keep it simple. Just because you are ruling out certain values does not mean that they aren’t important. You are just picking what is MOST important to you.
As you make decisions, and goals, keep these core values in mind. You may even find that some of your decisions are not in line with your personal values. This is a great opportunity to readjust and make changes.
Define Personal Values
It’s important to define personal values so that you can reach more clarity and feel more purpose in your life. By identifying what is most important to you, you will be more able to make decisions that will lead to your personal happiness and growth.
Below is a list of core values commonly used by leadership institutes and programs. This will give you an idea of some common core values (also called personal values). My recommendation is to select less than five core values to focus on.
Core Values List
- Authenticity – The quality of being authentic; genuineness.
- Achievement – Something accomplished, especially by superior ability, special effort, great courage, etc.; a great or heroic deed.
- Adventure – An undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks.
- Authority – Power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior.
- Autonomy – Independence or freedom, as of the will or one’s actions.
- Balance – Mental and emotional steadiness.
- Beauty – The quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.
- Boldness – Showing or requiring a fearless daring spirit.
- Compassion – A feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
- Challenge – A call or summons to engage in any contest, as of skill, strength, etc.
- Citizenship – The character of an individual viewed as a member of society; behavior in terms of the duties, obligations, and functions of a citizen.
- Community – A social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists.
- Competency – The ability to do something successfully or efficiently.
- Contribution – Something that you contribute or do to help produce or achieve something together with other people, or to help make something successful.
- Creativity – The ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination.
- Curiosity – The desire to learn or know about anything; inquisitiveness.
- Determination – The ability to continue trying to do something, even if it is difficult.
- Fairness – The quality of treating people equally or in a way that is right or reasonable.
- Faith – A high degree of trust or confidence in something or someone.
- Fame – The state of being known for having or doing something important.
- Friendships – A friendly relationship, or the state of being friends.
- Fun – Pleasure, enjoyment, amusement, or someone or something that causes this.
- Growth – The act or process, or a manner of growing; development; gradual increase.
- Happiness – The feeling of being pleased or happy.
- Honesty – The quality of being honest.
- Humor – The ability to be amused by something seen, heard, or thought about, sometimes causing you to smile or laugh, or the quality in something that causes such amusement.
- Influence – To cause someone to change a behavior, belief, or opinion, or power to have an effect on people or things.
- Inner Harmony – Is a feeling of peace of mind that involves self-acceptance, acceptance of one’s life in general, and acceptance of the past.
- Justice – The condition of being morally correct or fair.
- Kindness – The quality of being generous, helpful, and caring about other people, or an act showing this quality.
- Knowledge – Awareness, understanding, or information that has been obtained by experience or study, and that is either in a person’s mind or possessed by people generally.
- Leadership – The quality or ability that makes a person a leader, or the position of being a leader.
- Learning – The activity of getting knowledge.
- Love – To have a strong affection for someone, which can be combined with a strong romantic attraction.
- Loyalty – Always giving help and encouragement.
- Meaningful Work – Important or valuable.
- Openness – A person who is open is honest and not trying to hide something.
- Optimism – The quality of being full of hope and emphasizing the good parts of a situation, or a belief that something good will happen.
- Peace – The state of not being interrupted or annoyed by worry, problems, noise, or unwanted actions.
- Pleasure – Enjoyment, happiness, or satisfaction, or something that gives this feeling.
- Poise – Calm confidence in a person’s way of behaving, or a quality of grace.
- Popularity – The fact that something or someone is liked, enjoyed, or supported by many people.
- Recognition – Public appreciation for a person’s or group’s achievements.
- Religion – The belief in and worship of a god or gods, or any such system of belief and worship.
- Reputation – The opinion that people in general have about someone or something, or how much respect or admiration someone or something receives, based on past behavior or character.
- Respect – Admiration for someone or something that you believe has good ideas or qualities.
- Responsibility – Something that it is your job or duty to deal with.
- Security – Freedom from risk and the threat of change for the worse.
- Self-Respect – Positive thoughts and feelings about yourself; self-esteem.
- Service – Something that you contribute or do to help produce or achieve something together with other people, or to help make something successful.
- Spirituality – The quality or state of being spiritual.
- Stability – Steadfastness; constancy, as of character or purpose.
- Success – A person or thing that has had success, as measured by attainment of goals, wealth, etc.
- Status – The amount of respect, admiration, or importance given to a person, organization, or object.
- Trustworthiness – Deserving of trust or confidence; dependable; reliable.
- Wealth – A large amount of money and other valuable possessions.
- Wisdom – The ability to make good judgments based on what you have learned from your experience, or the knowledge and understanding that gives you this ability.
For more articles on personal growth, read 18 quotes on success.