“The key to living an inspired and fulfilling life is through living a life centred around your highest values”
– Dr. John Demartini (human behavioural specialist, bestselling author and star of the movie “The Secret”)
In this article, we explore what personal core values are, why they matter and how you can determine your own values.
(Charlotte pictured with Dr. John Demartini)
First off, what are personal core values?
Personal core values are your guiding light on the journey of life.
They are the principles you stand by.
Your own treasures, they are what you hold most dear and important.
In other words, values are your highest priorities.
They are intangible and have a much greater impact on our happiness than any material item could possibly bring.
Values are always there for you, providing internal stability in an external world that is constantly changing.
When you are aware of your values, it is easier to live life on your terms.
Of course, because they are personal, your values will be unique to you.
Here are some examples of values:
Why are values important?
Your own core values help you to determine your behaviour, words and actions, providing a useful blueprint to follow to make sure you abide by the standards you set for yourself.
Personal values therefore help you to navigate your way through life.
They support you in decision-making, being more productive and also enhance your relationships.
When you honour your core values, you experience more enjoyment and fulfilment.
On the flip side, when you don’t live a life aligned with your values, you may encounter feelings of frustration, anger and emptiness and, as a result, may find yourself stuck in a pattern of negative behaviour to fill the void you experience from not living in a way that is authentic to you.
How you can uncover your personal core values- a 3 step process
Your core values are within you, like buried treasure.
It just takes a little digging around and exploring to discover them.
Determining your own core values is an investment, as awareness of them has the power to positively impact all areas of your life.
Dedicate some time to yourself, where you can be alone and give this exercise your full attention.
It’s a good idea to do some breathing exercises beforehand to clear the mind.
As you work on discovering your core values, remember that while living a life in line with them will promote a more abundant lifestyle, values are not material things like money, property, cars, etc. They are much more sustainable than that.
It’s also important to be mindful throughout this exercise that these are your values and reflect what’s most important to you. Your core values are not about pleasing others, what you think you should value in life, or what others may expect you to.
Step 1. Reflect
- What am I passionate about?
- What excites me most in life? Gets me out of bed in the morning?
- What energises me?
- What do I want to spend my energy on?
- What achievements am I most proud of? (they don’t have to be the so-called “big” things)
- What makes me feel alive?
- What kind of legacy do I want to leave?
Write down what’s important to you, even words or phrases that don’t seem to be values.
Then look at the value behind what you’ve written. To keep it simple, values are not something we do or have. If you come up with something that you do or have, ask yourself “what does this give me?”. For example the value associated with “travel” may be “adventure” or “education”.
Then look at themes based on what you’ve written and group them accordingly, e.g. trust/honesty/integrity until you have a shortlist.
Prioritising your values can be challenging.
Remember, it is your core values that you are identifying here, so while there will obviously be many other values that resonate with you, you’re looking for the ones that will make the most impact to your life.
To make it easier, select your top-3 or top-5 from your list that are most meaningful to you, that align with your legacy, relationships and work; the ones that will support you in feeling good on a day-to-day basis.
Step 2. Experience the contrast
You may also wish to do the opposite and consider:
- What behaviour frustrates me?
- When do I feel I let myself down by not being true to myself?
- What exhausts me?
- What demotivates me?
- What do I feel is missing in my life?
Experiencing this contrast shows you what behaviours and situations to avoid so that you can live in a manner aligned to your values.
Step 3. Create an action plan
Put a strategy in place for yourself so that you can hold yourself accountable to practising your core values daily.
You may use the following questions as a guide as you work on this:
- What actions do I take to honour these values?
- When do I know I am living in line with these values?
- What feelings do I experience when I am living in a way that is aligned to my values?
- How do I know when I’m out of sync with my values?
- What actions could I start to take to support me in living the life that I want, based on what’s most important to me?
- What do I need to do more of?
- What do I need to do less of?
- What do I need to stop doing altogether?
- What do I need to start doing?
Our priorities may change as time goes on, so it’s a good idea to re-visit this exercise once or twice a year.
You may also like to check-in with yourself regularly: daily, weekly or monthly to see how you are feeling and consider how these feelings are linked to the way in which you are honouring (or not, as the case may be) your values. You may use this as an opportunity to review your action plan and see if anything requires tweaking.
My top-3 values
My top-3 personal core values are:
Adventure to me doesn’t have to mean going to a far flung place or doing an extreme sport (which I love to do!), it’s about seeing the possibility in everything, thinking expansively, realising that there are opportunities for learning all around and having fun no matter what I am doing.
Sometimes I feel a little like Mary Poppins in the song ‘Spoonful of Sugar’ when she sings
“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun….and SNAP! The job’s a game.”.
Connection, in my personal opinion, is recognising the link between every living thing- humans, animals, plants and the world and universe that we are part of.
It’s about connecting to ourselves, realising how powerful we are as individuals but also seeing ourselves in others, understanding that we are all human and all have our own concerns, anxieties as well as achievements and successes.
Connection is being open to giving and receiving love in every interaction.
To continue with the Disney theme I started above (last reference, promise!), an affirmation I often repeat is the line from the song ‘Colours of the Wind’:
“And we are all connected to each other, in a circle, in a hoop that never ends…”
Repeating this to myself is certainly a calming influence when caught up in the Christmas shopping rush or when stuck in traffic!
Creativity is a value I have held all my life, certainly since I was 2 years old and marched into my first day of playschool, announcing, “ I want to colour and paint”.
I enjoy all artforms, the beauty of nature and life.
By pouring creativity into every activity, whether it’s writing this blog, creating a nice physical environment, a meal, solving a problem by looking at things from a different perspective or doing something more traditionally creative such as acting or drawing, this value is honoured.
I want to colour and paint my way through everything I do in life to really squeeze the most out of it!
When I live a life aligned to these values, I feel fulfilled.
Each day when I get up I ask myself, “how can I put these values into action today?”.
When faced with a decision to make, I reflect and consider if it is in line with my values:
- Will it involve adventure and will there be an element of fun?
- Will I be able to connect with others while developing my relationship with myself?
- How can I use this opportunity to be more creative?
This gives me clarity on what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to, where to focus my time and energy and what opportunities are going to move me forward in the right direction on my personal path.
Having clarity avoids conflict, and certainly makes it easier to resolve any conflicts that may arise.
Because I aim to always be authentic in everything I do, these are also the core values of Act On It Coaching. I believe that working with these values, I can powerfully serve my clients and encourage them to be their authentic selves and live lives that are in line with their values too.
The Value of Values
Possessions and people may come and go in our lives.
When we know who we are and what we stand for, we certainly provide ourselves with a strong foundation that enables us to be more resilient and grow in confidence as we realise that no matter what changes happen in our lives, when we are true to ourselves, we have the ability to handle whatever comes.
And that is the real value of values.
What are your core personal values?
Please share them in the comments below, or let me know if you found this article beneficial!