Find Your Own Core Values

Find Your Own Core Values

Done right, your core values will provide you with a lens for better decision making. Living your life with values that don’t fit is just like wearing someone else’s eyeglasses – they will distort your vision and give you a headache.

Your values will serve as a compass to reach your best self. Everyday they will help you choose between what is right and wrong for you.

Good news: It is never too late to identify your core values or to encourage others to do the same.

Bad News: Finding the right ones can be a huge challenge. 

There are no right ones, there are only right-for-you core values and you will have to listen to your own genuine self to find out what they are. Unfortunately this isn’t a skill they teach us as kids or make us practice at school. In fact, a lot of what they teach in school, shuts down our knowing ourselves and trains us in following others. Following can be a helpful skill, but only when you know where you want to go and you have an experienced leader going there too.

Here are a few helpful hints about choosing core values to make it easier.

  • Less is more. Shoot for five and don’t worry if you end up with three to seven. More than seven is hard to manage. If this makes you feel limited, go ahead and choose as many as you want. But I will ask you this: If everything is important then how can anything be important?
  • They are yours and yours alone. Don’t expect anyone else to live by yours nor should you live by theirs. We are each unique so get your own. You deserve it. 
  • Each core value will empower you in different ways but be aware that they also make you vulnerable too. Don’t feel guilty or ashamed about any of it.
  • Choose the ones that are right for you. Aspirations can be distracting, and picking one just because you think it would make you look good is a mistake. If you aren’t sure you have the right one, then imagine this core value being violated. Your reaction will be visceral.  Feels like a punch in the gut? Seeing red? Know you would lose sleep if this ever happened? Terrific! You’ve found a gem.
  • Expect that they can shift over time as you grow and change. Say thank you and good-bye when they no longer fit.  This happened for me after I started my business. I realized that the core values I held dear (Community, Contribution, Challenge and Compensation) were for my company because healthy culture and meaningful work start with them.  At the same time, new personal core values surfaced (Curiosity, Creativity, Compassion, and Collaboration) for me.

Still stuck on finding yours? Ask people you trust what they think your core values are. They will have insight into your motivations without the loud editor/ tiny terrorist that lives in your brain saying a word. Then apply the hints above to sort through what they say.

Good Luck! I can’t wait to hear what you discover.