Our personal core values make us who we are and dictate how we’ll react to life. They are an important part of self-growth and a key factor in shaping our attitudes as well as bolstering fulfillment in following our individual dreams.
Once you have your core values in place, they will guide what is right for you at that moment without contemplation. Your path will be clear and your conscience will be clean.
Every little thing you do throughout your day will be dictated by your personal core values. This will translate into how you do and think about things with ease. The people around you will be able to trust you and will stand with you when necessary.
Why Are Core Values Important?
Values are a part of what we are. They highlight what we stand for. They can represent our unique, individual essence. They guide our behavior and provide us with a personal code of conduct. When we honor our personal core values consistently, we feel fulfilled. When we don’t,we feel incongruent and are more likely to escape into bad habits in order to feel better.
Understanding Self-Awareness and Core Values
Historically, individuals without intention and awareness seldom establish their own core values. As children who lack ideas of our own, most of us begin by adopting the core values of our parents and families. Typically, these adopted core values dictate what our religious, social and environmental behaviors will be. When an individual’s beliefs are congruent with the core values he or she expresses through actions, then body-mind-soul aligns. Research shows that people who live with core values in place seldom get sick and when they do, they recover quickly. Being clear about who they are and what they stand for as humans makes them very aware of and resilient to what drains them of their vitality. With their core values as their compass, little energy is needed to get them back on track again.
When you become clear about your core values, you’ll become just as passionate about your chosen direction in life. I call this our “ dream.” When you are certain itis your life and take ownership, you really become an individual with self-awareness. From a position of self-awareness, you know what you bring to your personal, professional and spiritual relationships.
Core values were a central theme to one of my personal growth workshops on fulfilling purpose. We constructed a dream board as a visual diagram of purpose and the components necessary to attain it. My dream board was of a tree. On the top of the tree lived my dream or“ my purpose.” The core values were soiled into the roots and foundation of my tree as a metaphor for them feeling grounded with the intention of pursuing my dream.
One value that quickly rose to the top of my list was health. Physical health, energy, and vitality were and are very important to me. I try to be very conscientious about my health, taking care of my body first so that I can feel optimal to flourish in all other areas of my life. Since I was committed to cultivating a strong foundation for my physical health and well being, I clarified this value as a top priority.
I realized that when I strongly value my health, I don’t have to wrestle with my will as much. Knowing a particular food or activity isn’t good for the body reduces temptation. I made a practice of paying attention to how different foods made me feel after I ate them. If something made me sleepy or drained my energy, I took note. I consciously sought to create a way of being that supported a healthy, energizing lifestyle.
Discovering Your Personal Core Values
The challenge is that most ofus are not clear about our values. We don’t consciously know what’s most important to us. Instead, we are more focused on what our society, culture, and media values. Can you clearly articulate your top five to 10 values? Without undergoing a discovery process, it’s challenging to know your personal core values. It’s easy to intellectualize and idealize what you should value. But knowing and accepting what you do value takes effort.
Let’s begin the process of discovering your core values:
Simply take a deep breath and momentarily empty your mind. Remember that your conscious mind doesn’t know all of the answers. Create a space for new insights and revelations to emerge. Cultivate a list of core values that are essential to you: There are lists of hundreds of words that can be potential values for you but I prefer to come up with the discovery of my own individual process.
Use a Journal and use this exercise to find clarity on the core values for you.
1) Peak Experiences Think of a meaningful or rewarding moment in time—a peak experience that stands out in your mind. What was happening to you? What was going on? What values were you honoring in that moment?
2) Suppressed Values
Now, go in the opposite direction. Consider a time when you felt angry, frustrated, or deeply upset. What was going on? What exactly were you feeling? Now flip those feelings around. What value is being suppressed?
3) Code of Conduct
What must you have in your life? Beyond your basic needs, what must you have to be fulfilled? Creative self-expression? A strong level of health and vitality? A sense of excitement and adventure? Being surrounded by beauty? Always learning? What are the values that you must honor or a part of you withers?
With those three steps you should now feel more clarity with what feels true for you.
•What values are absolutely essential to my life?
• What values represent my primary way of being in the world?
• What values are essential to supporting my inner self?
With crafting your values list,
~Make a chart with the list of values you came up with and their meaning.
Rate the importance from 1-10 (10 being most important)
Here is an example:
Honesty/Tell the truth Without blame or judgment/ 10
Integrity/Act in an honorable way – Do the right thing. Stand up for what’s right./9
Respect for Self/Have a high regard for who you are Do not abuse your body or spirit through drugs, laziness or putdowns. Strive to be the best you can be./9
Respect for Others/Recognize the worth of other people. Show others that you value and appreciate them through your actions and comments./9
Responsibility/Ability to choose between what is right and what is wrong./Beresponsible for your behavior and accept the consequences of your behavior. Can be trusted. Are reliable./9
Courtesy/Uses good manners./Is polite./Is thoughtful of others./9
After putting your list together Check in and review :
• How do they make you feel?
•Do you feel they are consistent with who you are?
• Are they personal to you?
•Do you see any values that feel inconsistent with your identity (as if they belong to someone else, like an authority figure or society) and not you?
You can reevaluate until you feel secure about the list. Keep the list handy. You can even go so far as to leave it in a visible place for constant reaffirmation.