How Can I Discover My Personal Core Values?

Understanding your own values is critical to getting to know yourself. It is the foundation to making all decisions in life as you will be able to assess whether a decision aligns with your personal core values.

This guide will discuss the idea of core values, the benefits of discovering your core values, and how you can do so.

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What are personal core values?

Values are beliefs or opinions that characterize who you are as a human being. They are the principles that give our lives meaning. They form a mindset that defines your character, view, and belief as to what are the ideal standards of behavior and living.

Personal core values are often formed from:

  • Experiences: your upbringing, education, and work experience
  • Role models: your parents, primary caregiver, family members, teachers, friends, and other authority figures
  • Cultures and beliefs: your community, environment, and religion or spirituality

There may also be other factors that influence how your personal core values are formed. As you grow and accumulate more life experiences, your core value systems may also evolve and change.

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Why should I define my personal core values?

#1: You can understand more about your personal identity

Your core values are basically the foundation of how you live your life. By pinpointing the values that are important to you, you will be able to increase your self-awareness and understand your authentic self. This increases your understanding of who you are and how you are different from or similar to other people.

This exercise will help you think through your past experiences, role models, cultures, and beliefs, and hence understand how you become who you are now and what are the most important things in life for you.

#2: You can find your sense of purpose and make choices that align with your mission

If you are feeling lost as to what are your purposes and long-term goals, this exercise will be an important first step. Understanding yourself forms the basis for you to set goals and find directions that allow you to be your truest self.

Therefore, finding your personal core values will allow you to make choices and priorities in life, whether it comes to your work, life, relationships, and how you would like to spend your time. This exercise forms the foundation of intentional living.

#3: You can better find communities that share your core values

Good relationships are the basis of a good life. By discovering your core values, you can learn how to articulate them, set clear boundaries, and develop relationships that are in line with your values. It will allow you to better communicate your needs with people around you.

This will also provide you with the directions to connect with people who share the same or similar core values as yours. Often, these are the relationships that you will find to be the most meaningful, fruitful, and supportive. They are the communities that can foster your growth.

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How can I discover my personal core values?

The exercise of discovering your core values is an exercise of self-reflection. It takes time for you to think through your life and your experiences and to draw conclusions based on this thought exercise.

To start this thought exercise, you can start reflecting on the following questions:

#1: What are the most meaningful moments in your life?

Can you recall moments in life when you feel like you are experiencing a sense of purpose? Thinking back, are there times you felt very motivated, peaceful, and filled with joy?

Write down these meaningful moments and identify the reason that these moments are meaningful.

#2: What are some tasks that make you feel most engaged?

“Flow” is a state of mind when a person is completely and fully immersed in performing a single task or activity with energized focus and enjoyment.

If you have experienced flow, try writing down activities that you are in the most engaged mode. This allows you to identify activities that you enjoy the most, hence allowing you to find out what are the most important things to you.

#3: Who are your role models and who do you want to become?

Having a person in mind who is your role model is often the clearest way of characterizing and visualizing who you would want to become. They are likely the kind of persons who possess the characteristics relating to the core values that you have.

You can therefore name a few persons that you have been looking up to, or observe the behaviors that you find to be good and positive. These are good starting points in identifying what you like and believe in.

#4: What are some things and behaviors you do not like?

On the flip side, you can also try to identify behaviors, cultures, activities, actions, etc. that you do like like or find frustrating. These are things that may contradict your values and are not in line with your beliefs.

List these things out and ask yourself, what is the exact reason that I find these things frustrating? Why do I not like these things?

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How can I live by my core values?

#1: List and rank your core values

Once you have gone through the thought exercise, you can try to summarize the personal values that are most important to you.

If you find it difficult to verbalize the values you have and rank them, here are some online tools that can help:

#2: Identify your life mission based on your core values

After understanding what are the most important things to you, you can reflect on:

  • Are there any relationships between my core values?
  • What do I want to achieve based on my core values?
  • How can I live my life in a way that aligns with my values?

Asking these questions will help you summarize your life mission and purpose. Through understanding your core values and what you want, you can write down the long-term goal that you have for yourself.

Once you identified your long-term goals, you can set SMART goals to help you achieve them.

#3: Work towards your life mission by establishing good habits

Your core values won’t be put into action unless you develop habits that are in line with them.

To live your daily life that is in line with your core values, you should constantly remind yourself of them. This includes:

  • Reminding yourself of your life mission
  • Writing down your core values and placing them somewhere you get to see every day
  • Journalling every day by writing down the actions you have done that relate to your values

Find out how you can build good habits for lasting change by reading more here.

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