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What are your core values and why are they so important?

core values

Our values are who we are at our core. Most people don’t have a real understanding of their own core values. When you discover what they are, and then consciously start to live by them, it makes life a lot easier. I ask my clients to think about what fundamental beliefs are most important to them, as part of establishing a foundation to work from. What guiding principles do you live by? What standards would you not compromise on? These are your Core Values.

Core values go deep

Your values are engrained in you through your genetics and your upbringing. We are all born with a certain disposition and personality, but are greatly influenced by our parents, our experiences, education system, friends and peers as we grow up. By the time we reach adulthood, many of our values are embedded in our psyche. They are deep-seated beliefs you have about yourself and the world around you. They are ideals you hold to be true about yourself and that you look for in others. Some examples may be:

  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Love
  • Success
  • Diligence
  • Freedom
  • Family

Your values can evolve over time, especially when you have big life events occur, such as starting a family or moving to another country. However, they tend to stay fairly constant over the long term.

Know what your core values are

Everyone has a different set of core values, and I encourage you to think about and write down yours. Why? Because if you do anything that conflicts with them, it inevitably leads to disappointment. For example, if you value honesty, and you lie to a close friend, you’ll feel guilty and sad. If success is important to you, but you haven’t put plans in place to reach your goals, you may feel frustrated and angry.

Your job can conflict with your values too. If you believe in social freedom and think that all drugs should be decriminalised, then you probably wouldn’t be happy working in the police. If integrity is important to you, you may want to think twice about working as a marketing manager for a multi-national tobacco company.

Try to pare down your values to 5 or 6 (the core) so you can easily think of them when making decisions or planning. If you have no idea what your values are, think about past experiences and the reasons why you behaved in a certain way, or why you made certain decisions. What traits do you admire in other people and try to emulate? If you could imagine your best self, what would that look like? Google ‘core values list‘ and pick out those that resonate with you the most. Life coaching can help you to identify your core values.

Make sure your lifestyle aligns with your values

To be happy and content, you want to ensure that what you do is in alignment with your core values. Sometimes you can do things that align with one value but conflict with another. You need to think about what is most important to you before making a decision. When I work on goals and plans with my clients, I always tell them to use their core values as a reference. If there’s any potential conflict between what they want to do and their core values, we discuss and deal with it before moving on.

Authenticity gives you freedom

When you know your values and live accordingly, you’ll find yourself becoming more authentic. This allows you to take your guard down, be honest with yourself and others, and be more comfortable in your own skin. Living by your values gives you the freedom to be yourself.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

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