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5 Steps to Identifying Your Core Values

Our core values play a part in how we make decisions, especially when it comes to making a difficult choice. That’s why it is important to be able to identify your core values clearly, to enable you to prioritise what is important to you in an awkward situation. 

These values should fit in with our goals, whether this is in business or our personal lives and should help us feel fulfilled and successful. Making valued based decisions may not always be easy, but it is likely that it will result in the most beneficial outcome in the long run. 

1. Start with a fresh mind

Knowing your core values will help you stay on the track to fulfilment when it comes to both your business and your personal life. However, don’t let your existing experience sway your opinions and instead think about what your values would have been when you first set out on your journey. 

Our core values are often unique to us, highlighting the aspects of our lives that we give importance to. Not only do our values show other people what we believe in, but they can influence our behaviour as we develop a personal code of conduct. 

Honouring the code of conduct and adhering to our core values often gives us a sense of fulfilment and joy. However, we can become conflicted and unsettled when we digress from this code. 

2. Think about what’s most important to you

In order to identify your core values, there are a number of questions you can consider. Think about what is most important to you and what you want your life to mean. Then reflect on your answers and delve deeper into your responses.

Are you answering honestly, or just how you think you should be?

Once you have dug deeper and really focused on what it is you want to achieve in life, you can think about how you get to that point. What skills and values will you need to develop and rely on?

Then it is time to pull upon your life experiences. Look back to the times where you have felt happy, proud and fulfilled. Are there any similarities in these experiences? What happened to make you feel these emotions? 

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3. Create categories  

After pooling your thoughts and experiences you will have identified a number of emotions, values and goals which are important to you. Instead of having a list of words, phrases and interactions, try to group these under a smaller number of umbrella terms. 

Not only will this make your list more manageable, but it can also help to identify your other core values which may also fall under that category without you realising it. This will enable you to further explore what is important to you. 

For example, if you felt proud about a time in work you came forward with a new idea that was successful, you could identify the values of boldness and ownership. However, both of these terms could fall under the umbrella of confidence. 

4. Identify any central themes

At this point, it is likely that you still have a relatively large number of categories when it comes to your values. These could relate to personal skills such as honesty, business skills such as drive and passion and even interpersonal skills such as teamwork. 

While every single one of these categories has meaning to you and will have had an influence on your life, they can again be narrowed down further. 

Think about if there are any central themes cropping up in your list. If you have categories such as identified honesty, respect, pride and trust, these could all fall under the theme of integrity. 

5. Identify your top core values 

Now you should have a shortlist of themes that are important to you and to your business. Ideally, you should have between five and ten core values that you aim to adhere to as this will help you stay focused on what matters most to you and your business. 

In order to choose the most important values, look at your shortlist and think of a number of situations where you would have to choose between two values. For example, if you had success and integrity, think of a situation where you might have to lie in order to succeed. 

If you choose to succeed, you value success over integrity and would rate it higher on your list of values. Continue to carry out this exercise until you have rearranged your list of values into an order of importance to you, then you will be able to clearly identify your core values.


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