How to Identify Your Core Values

Your Core Values Are Essential

Your core values are the guiding light in your life. They help you make choices that feel right to you, leaving you more fulfilled and sure of yourself. They also inform your relationships with others, from your family members to your friends to your romantic partners.

Wondering where your core values will take you? Read with a and find out!

But while your core values are an essential component of who you are, identifying them with words may not be so easy. However, by digging deep and simply noticing how your values play a role in your everyday life, you can be more in tune with the morals and standards that drive you. Ask yourself the following questions to determine what your core values are:

1. What do I notice?
If you don’t already keep a journal, start one. In it, start identifying what you notice about your life: your reactions to certain situations, what makes you feel uncomfortable, what makes you happy, what invigorates you, and what drains you. When you feel frustrated, what do you do? How do you take care of yourself or not? Simply by paying attention to your life and your role in it, you can start to uncover patterns. It is there that your core values will start peeking through.

2. What are the three most important parts of my life right now?
Journaling will help you with this next question as well if you don’t already know the three most critical components of your life. Figuring out what’s most significant to you will inform your core values. Typically, people see a pattern among what they hold most dear. Don’t worry if you can’t get to three, or if you feel that there are more than three most important aspects of your life. The point is to determine what truly matters to you and why.

3. During what moments in my life was I the happiest, most proud, and most fulfilled?
Look back on your life to figure out the highlights: What moments stand out to you? What was it about the people, circumstances or yourself that really made you feel positive emotions? What do those moments collectively say about what’s important to you then and now? The answers to these questions might start to reveal various core values, like the importance of kindness, integrity, stability or accountability too. Write these down as you identify them.

4. What can I not live without?
Finally, ask yourself this question about the values you’ve collected so far: If one of them were taken away, could you live without it? If the answer is no, then this could be one of your core values. For instance: Could you live without kindness? Could you survive without autonomy? Could you feel fulfilled without creativity? Knowing what you can’t live without, whether it’s in your family, your work or your romantic life will help you further identify what your true values really are. You may initially think that you can’t live without any of these values but deep contemplation will reveal which ones are actually essential to your existence and which would simply be nice to have. Focus on the former and you’ll soon have a handful of guiding values that can drive your life in the right direction.

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