Determining Your Core Values

Today we start to define our Core Values…narrow down 4 or 5 values that underpin our life…the ideas and beliefs that influence and inform the decisions we make and the actions we take. Our Core Values influence – or should influence – everything we do. When we work against our Core Values, we feel unsettled, unsatisfied, not right, not on purpose.

But how do I figure out what my Core Values are?

One way we can determine our Core Values is to examine certain aspects of our life so far. Try answering these questions and see where it leads you. A word of warning – you don’t want to get to caught up in reliving these moments – just observe them and appreciate what they brought to your life – and then put them back to bed.

What were the happiest moments in my life?

Our happiest moments can tell us a great deal about what we value  – examine these moments for common threads:What was I doing? Who was I with? Where was I? Was there a specific need that this moment fulfilled?

What were the proudest moments in my life?

Our proudest moments can also tell us a great deal. Again, examine these moments for common threads: What was I doing? Who was I with? Where was I? What did I accomplish? How?

What makes me – right now – feel the most peaceful and content with my life?

The moments we feel peace, contentment – the moments we feel like “ah, this is just right” are the moments we are living in our purpose. Even if we don;t know it. Even if what we are doing isn’t big and important. What does this for you? Close your eyes and imagine one of these moments – ask yourself: What am I doing? Who am I with? Where am I? How do I feel?

What were the moments in my life when I felt shame?

Those time when we felt shame can help us to identify the “un-priorities” – the people or activities that we want to be sure to avoid in future. Sometimes we can identify self-destructive tendencies by looking at these moments – but remember that this is not the time to get caught up in the past – just observe these moments and let them go again. Look for common threads:What was I doing? Who was I with? Where was I? What about this made me feel so bad?

Now, take all of this and look for the themes, the beliefs, the values that lie underneath.

This isn’t a pop quiz, its an exercise that should take some thought – perhaps a bit of pondering. Some values may pop right out – others may be more subtle. This is your life, so take the time to really think about what is important to you.

Not sure? Feeling stumped? Need a nudge? There lists of common values all over the web – a not very comprehensive list would maybe include:

Acceptance, Achievement, Adaptability, Adventure, Balance, Beauty, Boldness, Cheerfulness, Cleverness, Compassion, Curiosity, Dependability, Discipline, Elegance, Empathy, Faith, Family, Fidelity, Freedom, Generosity, Grace, Honesty, Honor, Independence, Intelligence, Intuition, Justice, Leadership, Love, Loyalty, Originality, Optimism, Patriotism, Perfection, Practicality, Professionalism, Prudence, Reliability, Resourcefulness, Security, Selflessness, Service, Simplicity, Strength, Teamwork, Thankfulness, Thoughtfulness, Tolerance, Trustworthiness, Uniqueness, Usefulness, Vision.

So select 4 or 5 words that seem to fit your patterns…

I know – all the words look good, they all look like values I want to have. And choosing 4 or 5 seems so…like I’m not choosing others, right? but not choosing, say, patriotism doesn’t mean you aren’t patriotic – it just means that it isn’t one of your most important values. We want to identify the most important – because those values are the keys to our purpose, to how we tick, And – surprise! – they will change over time. My younger self would have made some different choices…and that’s ok – its normal. We grow, we change, life around us changes – so why would we not shift the importance of certain values?

Values help us identify what our priorities should be!

What did you discover?