How to Identify and Live by Your Core Values

How to Identify and Live by Your Core Values

“Your core values are the deeply held beliefs that authentically describe your soul.” – John C. Maxwell

Our lives are a series of decisions. From the moment we wake up to the time we go to bed, we constantly make choices, both big and small. These decisions shape our days, our careers, and our relationships. But have you ever stopped to consider what guides your decision-making process? The answer lies in your core values, the beliefs and principles that you hold dear and wish to live by. We will explore the importance of identifying your core values and provide a step-by-step process to help you uncover what truly matters to you.

As Roy Disney, the brother of Walt Disney, wisely said, “It’s not hard to make decisions once you know what your values are.” Knowing your core values provides a compass for navigating life’s choices. Your values act as a moral and ethical guide, influencing how you interact with the world and make decisions in various circumstances. While values subtly steer our choices, they are not always explicitly stated, and identifying them is the first step towards living intentionally.

How to Identify Your Core Values

The journey to discovering your core values begins with a broad exploration of character traits and personal values that resonate with you. Start by listing words that describe traits you admire in both yourself and others. Consider attributes like fun-loving, forgiving, generous, optimistic, transparent, ambitious, and growth-oriented. Your aim is to compile a list of 20 to 25 traits that resonate with you.

Next, move on to narrowing down your list. You might find that some traits are closely related or essentially mean the same thing. Group these similar words together and select the one that resonates with you the most. Alternatively, begin to cross out traits that, upon reflection, may not be as important to you. This process should help you arrive at a shorter list, typically containing 10 to 15 traits.

Now comes the pivotal step – determining the values that are essential to your life. From your list of traits, choose the ones that you genuinely want to embody and that define your character. Consider whether there are any traits that, while good, you do not wish to emphasize significantly. This careful curation should bring you closer to a final list of three to seven core values. This is the essence of who you want to be, a set of guiding principles that align with your true self.

As a bonus and recommendation, you can take the extra step of memorizing your core values. Craft them into an acronym or a mnemonic that is meaningful and easy to recall. For example, I  have five core values that fit into the acronym GIFTS. Find one that works for you. This memorization will enable you to carry your values with you and apply them in your daily life.

Making Values-Based Decisions

Identifying your core values empowers you to make values-based decisions and live intentionally. Your values serve as a reference point for evaluating choices and actions, ensuring that they align with your true self and the person you aspire to become. As you navigate the multitude of decisions that life presents, remember that your core values will guide you and help you stay on the path that reflects who you are and who you want to be.

Recognizing and living by your core values is a powerful and transformative journey. By understanding what truly matters to you, you can make decisions that resonate with your authentic self. The values you identify are your personal north star, illuminating the path towards a more intentional and meaningful life. So, take the time to explore your values, for they are the keys to unlocking a life that is in harmony with your innermost beliefs and principles.

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