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How to Find Your Core Values to Live a Fulfilling Life

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How to Find Your Core Values to Live a Fulfilling Life

Everyone has things that are important to them. It can be getting in that morning coffee, going for a run after work, spending time with friends and family, or volunteering. The things that are important to you can give you a clue as to what your core values are in life.

This is important, as, according to The Atlantic, 7 out of 10 Americans say people’s values have been getting worse in America over the past decade.[1]

Let’s first define core values and then dive into discovering what yours are.

What Are Core Values?

Your core values are a testament to your true self because they are what matters most to you when it comes to your personal and professional life. Your values influence that little voice in your head that tells you whether or not to care about something and how you should prioritize your time.

Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work.[2] They help determine what you truly want out of life while simultaneously acting as the measuring stick you use to tell if you’re satisfied with your current situation and living in a meaningful way. Core values define who we are while helping us find our purpose.

Here are a few good examples of values:[3]

  • Reliability
  • Loyal
  • Committed
  • Teamwork
  • Caring
  • Adventurous
  • Listening
  • Diversity
  • Humility

Some of these values are instilled in you from childhood. They can be cultural or learned through watching your family and hearing their discussions about things they’re passionate about.

Perhaps now, in adulthood, you realize you’re passionate about those same things. It’s not a bad thing to share core values with those around you, but it can be detrimental to live a life that doesn’t honor those core values once you’ve identified them.

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How Core Values Affect Our Daily Decisions

We make decisions based on our values every day, but we sometimes forget about the important decisions we face, big and small, and the potential stress those choices can create.

When you can identify your values and make choices that align with them, life suddenly becomes a little easier. But when you’re running on autopilot and not allowing your values to coincide with your choices, you can find yourself becoming incredibly unhappy, and maybe you don’t know why.

Discovering your core values don’t help with huge aspects alone; they impact seemingly small things, too. Think back to that new phone you bought that you didn’t really need. You decided that spending money wisely was not valuable to you, but is that truly how you feel?

Now it’s the end of the month and bills are due. Perhaps it would be really helpful to have that money back, so it has created stress. That disconnect stems from living a life that doesn’t correlate with your core values.

When you begin to make those choices that seem small at the time knowing what you find valuable, you begin to feel less stress in other aspects of your life. This has a snowball effect that leads to better choices and prolonged stress-free existence. And the best part is, there’s no hard work needed, just some introspection and self-awareness.

And if simply sitting alone for a few minutes could impact the rest of your life positively, wouldn’t it be worth it? After all, knowing your values helps you make important decisions, like accepting a job, starting a business, or making a big change.

How Do We Find Our Personal Values?

Core values are important to us. By figuring out the things that matter to us most, we can lead a better life.

To get started finding your core values, you can check out Lifehack’s Free Life Assessment, which can help point you to what you believe to be important in life.

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Then, you can try the following two ways to find your personal core values.

Start With Your Morals

Knowing your core values can certainly sync up with your morals, which you likely already have a good handle on. After all, your values have a direct impact on your standards of behavior.

Think about it: if it is morally important to you to arrive at your workplace and focus on nothing but work on company time, it will also be true that being an honest and efficient employee is a value you carry to every job you occupy.

If you’re the kind of partner who puts their phone away when on a date, this probably means you are a morally loyal person and want to ensure your partner knows you value time with them.

This is a strong indication that, as a core value, you put relationships first and work hard to show people you care. You could easily list respect and commitment on your list of core values.

Analyze Your Own Experiences

For instance, think back to a time you were the happiest.

Can you name the thing that caused you to feel happiness? Was the fulfillment you felt due to other people, and if so, who were they?

Think about when you were proud of yourself, and why you felt that pride. Your own experiences can shine a great light on what you hold important.

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Don’t be afraid to look ahead and analyze where you want to challenge the status quo. What values do you want to exemplify to your children?

If you want others to value it, it’s valuable to you.

What Should I Do With My Core Values?

Just sit down and make a list of what comes to mind, and let yourself explore those core value words. There is no set limit on how many values you can have, so allow yourself to list as many as you can.

1. Prioritize Your Values

If you wind up with 20 words, consider crossing out those that barely made the list and prioritize your values.

Personal development blogger Steve Pavlina suggests identifying the top value, then the second-highest value, and so on until you’ve rebuilt the list in order of priority from the top to the bottom.[4]

As you’re trying to prioritize the values, have this question at the back of your mind:

If I have to choose from these, which one goes first, and which one can I live without?

Some of the words may easily float to the top, whereas others might stump you. Allow that to happen, and accept that it aids in teaching you who you are.

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2. Look to Your Values Every Day

Once you’ve determined what your core values are, it’s vital to look to them every day. We all face challenging situations and decisions, and it’s important to know your core values in those instances, as they will help guide you when the best choice isn’t the most obvious one.

Let your core values be valuable to you. Everyone is on their own path, and no one can tell you what your core values are but you.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Rework Your List in the Future

When you realize your values and begin to live by them, you may find that not all of them are as important as you believed.

Rework your list when the time comes. You’re allowed to consciously change your values as you grow and evolve as a person. In fact, it will be entirely necessary throughout your life.

Final Thoughts

You are not your values. You are the thinker of your thoughts, but you are not the thoughts themselves. Your personal values are your current compass, but they aren’t the real you.

Remember, your important values should aid in creating your best life, and your most authentic self.

You make the rules, so be patient with yourself and dedicate the time to discovering your core values. You’ll be amazed at the things you can accomplish.

More on Discovering Your Personal Values

Featured photo credit: Bewakoof.com Official via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] The Atlantic: 21 Charts That Explain American Values Today
[2] MindTools: What Are Your Values?
[3] ContentSparks: Big List of Core Value Words
[4] Steve Pavlina: Living Your Values Part 1

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