What do you value (and how to figure it out!)?

“Core values” are words often thrown around in the world of personal development. Many coaches I’ve worked with use them and I also help my clients identify their core values. But if you aren’t familiar with them, it can be a little confusing to figure out what we’re all talking about.

What are “core values”?

Core values are the things that are fundamentally important to you. They can be anything from family to adventure to honesty to community.

While it’s great to figure out what your core values are, many people choose the words that resonate with them the most and then that’s the end of it. But what you do with the values and how you use them to guide your life is what makes them valuable.

How to figure out your core values

It can be helpful to look at a list of potential core values to get some ideas. On your first run through, highlight or circle every single word that sounds good.

Now go back through your list and strike out any similarities or words that, on second thought, might not be that important.

Reflect on each word and what it really means to you and try to narrow your list down to 10. Note: This process can take several days or even weeks. Let each word really sit with you, if necessary.

From there, you may want to narrow it down to 7. Then 5. Five is a good number of core values to consider at any given time. Journal about your values and write down what each word actually means to you. “Community” might mean something different to you than to me and it’s important to be very clear on each one before moving onto the next step.

How to use your core values in your life and career

Once you figure out what you value, you can use it to make decisions in your life. Ask yourself: how am I aligning my life and career with these values?

For example, if you value freedom, should you leave your remote job and take something in an office? Probably not. If family is one of your top five values, but you never spend any time with them, you may want to reevaluate some things.

My current core values are compassion, connection, growth, freedom, and flow. If I read that list and there is an area of my life that isn’t hitting those values, I take a look at it and think about whether something needs to change.

We make time for the things that are truly important to us, but sometimes figuring out what that is can be a difficult task. Take some time to sit down with yourself and think through your core values and you will have a much easier time making decisions that are rooted in your true belief system.

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