Recently I was challenged to define my core values. I mean really define them. Put them on paper, and explain in detail why they define me. I’m not good at these games. I don’t really like introspection very much. Or application questions. I just like to fill in the blanks with generalities. So this challenge was, well, challenging for me. But the person asking was relentless so I gave it my best.
What are core values? And why is it important to know our own?
An online article had this to say, ‘When we identify our core values, decision making will become swift and focused. We will have clear direction on how we want to live our life. We will know when to yes and when to say no.’
Wow. I could use some help in that department, how about you?
So. I have decided to let you play along. There are hundreds to reflect upon, but for our purpose today, I’ve put together a list of 25 basic core values. Look over the list, and choose 3 or 4 that are important to you. Things that you couldn’t live without. Feel free to choose a value not on the list. Now write them down on a piece of paper. I’ll wait while you get a pen because, seriously, I want you to write them down. Now under each core value, write out everything about that value that describes you. Yes, write it out. You need to see it. Why is it important to you? How do you live it out? Don’t be shy — just be honest and transparent. By the time you are done, people who know you best should be able to say, “that description has your fingerprints all over it. That is you.”
When I finished this “game,” I was surprised at some of the repeated words in my descriptions. Not only did the three core values define me, but those repeated words described who I am. Those core values are the reason I get up every morning. They are what make me tick. They are what make my life meaningful to me. Doing this exercise has empowered me and given me focus. I hope it has given you a better understanding of yourself as well.
When we recognize and identify our core values, we have insight and motivation where to put our energy. These guiding principles dictate our behavior. We often fall in love with a person or choose our best friend because of shared values. Even without realizing it, we surround ourselves with people and places of like mindedness — core values.
Our core values determine how we choose our people and our place. If we don’t abide by them, we find ourselves feeling out of sorts and excluded. We don’t understand why we don’t fit it.
If you really want to find your place of belonging, define your core values. What makes you tick? What makes you get up in the morning?
Once you find yourself, it’s so much easier to find others.