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We often think we know our personal core values, but unless we truly articulate them, they stay vague. By writing down a list of your personal values and beliefs they will become clear to you.
When your personal values are clear, they will be your guiding light in your day-to-day life. They will make enable you to make even small choices part of your core values and beliefs. Part of your identity.
Set of a few minutes today to work through this easy guide to list your personal core values and beliefs to immediately reap the benefits! To help you will also find an inspirational list of 50 core values to download.
Why is a List of Personal Values Important?
Most of us have an idea of what’s important to us. However, if we are asked to state our core values or fundamental beliefs, few of us can easily give a comprehensive answer. By writing a list, actually writing it down, you force yourself to be clear. To go from the vague to the precise.
Having an idea that “family” is important to you is great, but unless you define it, it won’t influence your day to day life when making small decisions.
Does “family” mean that you should spend your time keeping in touch with all your cousins?
Does it mean that you should quit your job and stay at home to rase your kids?
By defining what “family” means to you, a lot of day to day choices becomes clearer. It will help you when you decide where to spend your most valuable resources, your time, energy and money.
How do I Create a List of Personal Core Values and Beliefs?
The Number of Core Values
Does it matter how long the list is? Yes and no. There is no fixed number of “core values” that a person should have. However, if there are too many, they are no longer core values. If there are too few, they won’t encompass everything that is truly important to you.
I would recommend a number between 6 and 12. This way you can make sure you get all your core values on the list, but they are not so many that they disappear in the crowd.
What Should be on My List of Personal Values?
There are two ways to go about this. I suggest you try both:
- Brainstorm. Bring out pen and paper (or your keyboard) and start writing down things that are important to you. They can come in whatever order. They can be different aspects of the same thing. This is not your final list; this is your starting point so don’t censor yourself or try to get it perfect!
- Read lists of examples of core values and see what resonates with you.
I have included a list of 50 core values below to get you started!
The purpose is not to copy someone else’s values. (That won’t help you!) Instead, some of our values are so ingrained in us, so part of who we are that we don’t even think about them! By brining them out in the open we can start recognising them which in turn will make us more intentional.
We can also find words that better describe what we are trying to say. I swapped out my core values of “continued learning” to “growth” after reading just such a list!
Defining Your Core Values and Beliefs
Now that you have a page with items that are important to you it’s time to really define which are your core values and should be on the list. These are the values that should guide everything that you do.
I suggest not putting your values in any specific order. The purpose is not to try to decide which is the most important to you. As a well-rounded person you can prioritize more than once thing and having to choose between the most important things in your life is something we rarely have to do, if we think about things constructively.
If you have a lot of items on your list and find it difficult narrow it down, get yourself a highlighter and get to work! Don’t cross anything off the list just start highlighting the items that speaks to you the most. The values and beliefs, not that you think you should have, but that are truly important to you.
This is not about trying to change who we are. It’s about being clear on who we are so we can live more in balance with ourselves.
Defining Your Values
Finally, it’s time to really define your values. Make them clear and concise. You may just write one word, or you may ad a short sentence to make it clearer for you.
“Family” could become:
“The wellbeing of my close family”
“Being in a supportive extended family”
This way you become clearer on that the word “family” means to you and living in accordance with that value will become a lot easier!
One of my core values is “Freedom”. This word means many things to me:
- Financial freedom
- Freedom of movement
- Freedom to make my own decisions
- Freedom over how I spend my time
- Freedom to say “no”
I don’t need to write down all these separate items because I know what freedom means to me. But it can still be a good exercise to try!
Look at your list. Are you clear on what those words means to you? If not, try defining them. Make sub-bullets or write a short sentence clarifying what it means to you.
Got your list? Great!
What Should I Do with the List Once It’s Done?
This is your guiding light. This is what should influence every decision you do on a day to day basis. It should guide the big decisions such your work, where you live and who you live with. It should also guide the small day to day decisions.
Where do you spend…
… your time?
… your energy?
… your attention?
… your money?
Put your list somewhere you will surely see it every day. Frame it and put it on the living room wall! Or put it on a post-it in your sock-drawer. Whatever works for you.
The important thing is to every day be reminded of your core values, so you have it with you as you go through the day. That it is at the top of your mind when you make the hundreds of decisions, we make every day.
Is this decision in line with my values? When you know that for sure, you will be confident in your choices. Your well-being will surge knowing that you live in accordance with your core values and beliefs.
Did you get value from this process? If so, share it with someone you think would benefit from being more intentional about their values and beliefs. Who would truly benefit from being more confident in their choices?