What are Core Values and How do You Live Them?
Core values are often talked about in the self-help arena. But what are they, why are they important and how do you know what your personal core values are?
As a teen, I was fortunate to come across various books and resources that shared topics such as core values, career suggestions, personality profiles etc. I was a voracious reader and grateful to have that knowledge from such a young age.
In order to create an abundant life you love, you need to be living in a way that aligns with your core values.
What Are Core Values?
Core values are about your personal principles and how you live, and what is important to you. They are your fundamental beliefs.
As an example, family is a core value of mine. My family (meaning my kids) come first, before anything.
This means, if something clashes with promises I’ve made to my kids or specific experiences we have planned, I am likely to turn it down. I prioritise time with my family, travel, experiences and our life as a whole.
Whenever I get too busy, don’t spend enough quality time with my kids or am away too much, we all feel it. It doesn’t mean I never have time for myself or I don’t have other things I focus on.
Having family as my core value means I make decisions based on what is best for my family as a whole. Working out and keeping healthy enables me to do more with my kids. Writing and having a flexible career means we can travel as a family and do more together.
My life is structured around my family with the aim of raising my kids to become confident, productive, compassionate, intelligent, independent adults who contribute to the world.
Why Know Your Core Values?
Life is smoother, and decisions are easier when you know and live by your values. It’s that simple.
Knowing your core values enables you to make decisions easier and create a life that is more fulfilling and abundant for you. When you know and live what you truly believe and what is important to you, life seems to flow.
Throughout our life, our core values can change based on experiences. Sometimes those changes are minor, other times it is such a dramatic shift you’ll be surprised how differently you view things.
Growing up in a heavily religious home, certain core values were drilled into me. For most of my life, despite leaving my religion, I stuck to those values.
More recently, due to numerous life changes, I have been evaluating my beliefs and what drives me. With the help of therapy, books, podcasts and a lot of reflection, I realised things I thought were important or I should be doing were actually paralysing me.
My soul didn’t align with those things and I was doing them to please others. Realising this and making significant changes to match that completely changed my life.
Decision-making became easy, projects I have struggled with for years were either culled or completely quickly, depending on how they aligned with my values. The biggest positive effect though was with my own kids.
For them, I am calmer, happier and more productive. They see how fulfilled I am now pursuing my passions. Similar to years ago when I focused on homelessness and domestic violence.
At 14 and 15, they’ve been through a lot with me including domestic violence, homelessness, paralysis, starting our lives over, bushfires etc. They’ve seen me at my worst but also at my best and both my teens confidently say where I am at now is amazing.
How do you Determine Your Core Values?
Set aside time to reflect and work out your core values. It’s not a quick and easy task for most, it takes deep thought and it is best if you can do this somewhere without distractions.
Sit down and take a look at your life. What is important to you and why? What are your non-negotiables in life?
What values are important to you and do you admire in others? How does what you do and focus on reflect your values or what is important to you?
How do you want to be remembered?
Asking yourself those questions can help uncover your core values. Forbes lists 15 Effective Ways To Discover And Articulate Your Core Values which can help further.
Look up values and find ones which resonate with you.
Core Values List
If you have done the above, you probably have a selection of values or traits you admire in others and yourself. If you are struggling with it, here are some examples. This is not a complete list but should help you get started.
How to Live Your Core Values
Knowing your core values is one thing, actually living them is another. If your life feels completely out of control, there is a good chance you are not living according to your core values.
What changes can you make to help your life align with the things that are important to you and the way you want to be remembered?
As an example, if family is a core value, how are you showing that? It’s one of mine and aside from the things I already mentioned with structuring work around my family, I have other things.
Every night we have dinner as a family. During dinner we each say 3 things we are grateful for and give each other compliments.
We can’t repeat things, it has to be genuine and the compliments are about noticing something about other family members e.g. something they have achieved, kindness or compassion they’ve shown, something they’ve overcome etc.
Friday nights are for family and have been since my kids were little. When they were younger we’d watch a movie with popcorn, go ice skating, play games etc. It was their night with my full attention and they got to choose what we did.
Occasionally, we’d swap it to a specific activity on the weekend but we always made sure there was specific time for us as a family. They looked forward to it all week and their friends expressed they wish their family did the same.
How can you implement things into your life that show you are living your values and make your values clear to those around you?
For each value you have listed, write down some ways you can start living them.
When you know your values and what is important to you it is much easier to make a decision, set goals and direct your life.