Find Your Core Values and Live By Them

What is a Core Value?

Have you felt stuck in life, or just unhappy or not knowing which direction you are going?

We've all read or heard the term 'live by your values', or 'live with integrity, or 'being true to your values'. Many of us don't actually know what this means, or we think we know it means, but haven't been given the right tools to sit down and nut out what they actually are. I'm here to give you a tool I have learnt from an amazing psychologist to work out your top 3 core values. This activity is very commonly presented by psychologists to people who feel stuck or aren't happy in their lives. A core value is a belief or principle that is of central importance to us.

Personally I struggled with identity through young adulthood, like many do, and that is because I was always trying to prove myself. To be that person people said I couldn't be, even if I didn't enjoy it. I completed a Degree in a field I didn't like, and I continued down that path, setting up my life in a career based on something that didn't interest me. It was always a constant battle to prove my worth. That was until I had my little man, and had the time to think about what I really want in life. 

Why is it Important to Know Your Core Values

For a start, living by our values is good for our soul. They give us direction and meaning. They ground our decision-making and root our actions in a purpose greater than ourselves. If you find yourself stuck on a decision and don't know which path to take, then you can draw on your values to help guide you through. 

It is important to note that values can change throughout our lives. They can change when we have fulfilled one desire or dream, or our circumstances change.

When I was going through a rough time in my relationship, 'Love', 'Trust', and 'Happiness' were my core values. Now they are just as important, but I would have to say I find some other things resonate with me more at this time. 

Let's Get Started

I actually find this activity quite fun and relaxing. It can even be done with friends or kids. 

1. Pre Work

You will need to print out your values first. There are multiple websites with sets of values you can copy and print out ( you may even be able to buy a pack). Make them large font, and then space/ cut them out so that one value sits in the palm of your hand ( half the size of a playing card). You can make them bigger if you like, and can even add pictures to aid your imagination. I like to place card board under one sheet of paper and glue them together before cutting, so that the pieces are thicker. 

2. Getting Started

Take some time where you have a quiet space to sit in for at least half an hour. 

Look at each value one by one, and start placing them in three piles. 

a) Most Important - what is extremely important to you. For instance it might be a deal breaker if someone is untrustworthy, so this might be very important to you. 

b) Important but not as important as others - You may value money, but it may not be the end of the world for you if you didn't have much of it. 

c) Least important - For me clear ones for this pile were things like Fame and Power, but they could very well be your most important!

3. Refining

Once you have your three piles, start refining your most important list. People often find that they have placed a lot of cards in this pile because there are so many things we can't decide as most important. 

Some cards may have similar meaning, so you can potentially place one of those into the 'not as important' pile. For example 'Health, Fitness' may seem similar to you, so you can take one out. 

Keep refining until you end up with your top three most important values

The most important thing is to not overthink these answers too much. What your initial thoughts are, are often the right ones, so trust your instinct. 

4. What to Do Now?

Now you have your three core values...well done! It can be a good idea to write these down somewhere visible to you on a daily basis. I painted mine on a canvas with acrylic paint, and hung it on my wall. Other ideas might be to stick them on your fridge, journal, 'phone calendar' as a daily reminder. 

Now next time someone asks you to do something and it doesn't feel right, check in with your core values and see if it aligns. 

That's a Wrap!

I hope you've enjoyed this activity as much as I have, and that you are on your way to living your best lives, aligned with your true values!

I'd love to hear your comments about which are your top 3 values xx

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