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What Are Your Core Values?

Updated: Dec 30, 2022

Hello Beautiful Humans!

What is a core value? How do you know if your life aligns with your values? What if your values have changed? How can you orient/reorient your relationships, work and life in general with your values? Will living life by your values make you happy?

Your values determine who you are, what you want and how you live. My coach once asked me, "What do you need in life to be rich? What would success in your life look like to you?" I replied, "My family and friends make me feel rich. If they are happy and healthy then I am successful." My family and friends are my 2 top core values, but I have others. Being able to be creative and adventurous, helping others, the outdoors, etc.... all of these things are part of my values. They make up who I am. They contribute to my beliefs, my relationships, my work and my life in general.

"Peace of mind comes when your life is in harmony with true principles and values and in no other way." ~ Stephen Covey

I've talked about values in past blogs several times and felt that it was time to focus solely on the topic. I think people often take their core values for granted. Most of us know they are there, but we don't really think of them as being a major construct in our daily lives. Some of us don't even really know what our values are so before we delve too far here are 2 quick exercises to help you determine what your values are. You can do either or (or even both if you like). I have done both several times over the years and I'm sorry that I have no idea of who to credit them for as I've seen them done by so many. All I can say for sure is that I did not create these tests.

Exercise A

  1. List 5 people who you admire most - real or ficticious, doesn't matter

  2. Next to each of these individuals, list a few words that describe why you admire them. (I.e. Superman - strong, brave, he can fly)

  3. Circle words that appear more than once in your list or words that truly stand out to you

*These words either are or are related to your Core Values

Exercise B

  1. For each category below, write down several words that represent that category in your mind

  2. Now cross off all but the word that you feel is the best definition of that category to you

  3. Cross off any words that describe something you 'should do', 'should be' or 'want'

*These words either are or are related to your Core Values


Adventure Beauty To Act Contribute

Create Discover Feel Lead

To Master Pleasure To Relate Sensitivity

To Be Spiritual Teach Success Health

Family Wealth Desire Passion

Are you surprised? Some of you will be. Some of you may find that your values aren't quite what you thought they would be. Some may find that your values have changed over time. Still some are scratching their heads in total disagreement with the outcome of the exercises, and that's ok. The point is, you've found the pool, you located the diving board, now it's time to jump in!

"Your core values act like your internal compass which navigates the course of your life. If you compromise your core values, you go nowhere." ~ Roy T. Bennett

Understand that there are other parts of your life that are not included in your values, it does not mean eliminating these things from your life, but it does mean that you want to limit the role that they play in your life and take full advantage of the opportunities that allow you to focus, reinforce, enrich and expand your values and apply your values in all the areas of your life as much as you can.

There is a difference between a 'want', a 'need' and a 'value'.

*A want is something that may give you temporary gratification, but you don't

have to have it to survive. Although it can contribute to you being happy

and/or satisfied, it is not guaranteed.

*A need is something that can either be temporary or long term and you have

to have it to survive, but it also does not guarantee satisfaction or


*A value is something that contributes to your long term fulfillment. In order to

achieve long term happiness and/or satisfaction, you must apply your v

values when making decisions and living your life.

It is sugggested that when you base your goals on using your values with intent you have a greater chance of success in reaching them then if you simply work towards what you want or with what you need without utilizing your values.

"Values are like fingerprints. Nobody's are the same, but you leave 'em all over everything you do." ~ Elvis Presley

So now we have determined our values and we understand that they are important for our successes, how do we start aligning our lives with our them?

The first thing is don't allow outside influences to become obstacles. Stress, tolerations, addictions, money, obligations (and the list goes on and on) can become obstacles that get in the way of putting your values first.

Example: Let's say your top values are honesty/integrity and family/friends.

You see a friend/family member stealing a candy bar.

What do you do about it?

If you do nothing, you have compromised your honesty/integrity value.

You could turn them in, but doesn't that go against your family/friends value?

There are a multitude of choices that you can make, but when you make the decision that most aligns with your values, you will find that you will be more at peace with yourself and your decision than if you go against your values.

Do you like who you are? If the answer is no, then maybe you need to reassess your values and even change them. Maybe you have been a parent most of your life and now that your children are grown you want to focus on a career. Maybe it's the opposite, you've been a career professional and now you are starting a family. It's not easy changing your values, but it can be dones and it is worth it for your personal foundation and continued growth.

"It's not hard to make decisions once you know what your values are." ~ Roy E. Disney

Think about what you would like to do in life. What gets you excited? What do you feel passionate about? What do you just can't help smiling about when you picture it in your mind? Now think about what it would take to have it, to do it, to be it? Are these values already a part of who you are? Do you want them to be? Sometimes we want to make changes to improve who we are and how we show up, but we already have the values needed, we just need to make them more present.

In either case, these are some steps that I have/am taking to help me align/re-align my values with the different aspects of my life. (Career, education, finances, family, relationships, leisure activities, etc.) This is not a full-proof, time tested, scientifically proven method for orienting your values. These are the steps that I created for myself. You can use them to get yourself started, but I urge you to create your own steps that will work for you.

For instance; I want to be more adventurous.

  1. Get rid of the obstacles and tolerations that are keeping me from being adventurous like the fear of the unknown, my 'want' to have security, habits that I have created that keep me home instead of exploring outside my comfort zone, etc.

  2. Seek out adventure in people and activities where my ideas of adventure are present. Maybe it's a trip or a class or a club, something of that nature.

  3. Take stock of what I am already adventurous in like hiking, cave splunking and exploring abandoned places and do more of these type of activities.

  4. Set a goal that is solely targeted on this value and that I enjoy doing. Maybe I will decide to go backwoods camping in an area I have never been to.

  5. Continue setting new goals once the last goal has been achieved.

  6. Adjust my priorities so that my value is present in my everyday life. This might mean changing my job, where I live, the people I hang out with, what I do in my spare time, etc.

Making these changes takes a lot of patience and time and it is important to be committed to the changes. If you don't really want to change or don't really care about the changes, or keep procrastinating or building obstacles to prevent the changes then maybe the value you have selected really isn't your cup of tea after all and you should consider re-evaluating whether having it as part of your values is really what you want. It's ok if it isn't! Really!

"Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values." ~ Ayn Rand (aka Alice O'Connor)

Maybe you don't want to make any changes to your values. That's fine, too! In fact that's fantastic. The steps above can also provide you with a starting point to strengthen the values that you already have. Don't forget that you want to seek out opportunity to utilize your values as much as possible.

The only person who can truly know your values or the values that you want or is capable of making the changes necessary is you. So take your time. There's no rush here. You deserve it!


What value do you want to orient or re-orient your life with? Create the steps that you need or borrow the steps above to make those changes happen.


  1. Your values are who you are. What are your values?

  2. Understand the differences between 'want', 'need', and 'value'.

  3. Identify the obstacles that keep you from aligning your life with your values and takes steps to change or remove them.

  4. Decide if you want to change your values, add new values or strenthen the values you already have.

  5. Create a plan to orient/re-orient your life with your values.

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