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5 Ways to Define Your Core Values

5 Ways to Define Your Core Values

Robert Baldwin

“What Should I Do?”

What about: “Am I making the right choice?” or “What am I doing with my life?”

Sound familiar?

What if I told you, you can build a blueprint? A set of guidelines to help you navigate difficult situations or simply help you feel more aligned with your true self?

Selecting your core values tell you what kind of person you are, or want to be, and provide guidelines, or even imperatives, for your actions.

But how do you know what your core values are? This post reveals five ways to discover and choose your core values.

Not all those who wander are lost…

What is a VALUE?

It’s a guidepost to give your life meaning and persevere through adversity. Now you have probably learned some values from your parents or from leaders throughout your life. But those manuals or blueprints don’t always reflect exactly who you are or exactly what you believe in.

Choosing Core Values

1.  Choose your top five values.

Either dig around online or use this list as a starting point.

Compassion; Health; Nature; Accomplishment; Creativity; Vitality; Integrity; Dependability; Style; Wellness; Loyalty; Beauty; Bravery; Sustainability; Gratitude; Love; Inspiration; Accountability; Connections; Learning; Leadership; Survival; Fun; Self-Preservation; Security; Authenticity; Adventure; Family; Work; Success; Exploration; Calm; Freedom;

You can change your mind. In fact, it's natural to change some of those values over time. But remember, the values help you define who you are and most importantly how to navigate difficult times.

2. Think of some people in your inner circle. Consider why they are so important to you. Values can be personified in people that you love and look up to.

You can use this two-step process to uncover the values you associate with your significant others and role models.

Think about why these people are important to you. Example: “My mother because of her work ethic.” or “My friend Stephanie because of her compassion”.

This exercise helps you further solidify your selections.

3.  Use an online values inventory.

You can find various values inventories online. One free online value inventory is located here.

4. Create a 1-page document in Google Docs or paper listing the top 5 values you selected.

And then underneath each one write a little bit about what the value means to you.


Keep this document nearby. Email it to yourself. Print it for your fridge. Or frame it in some fancy print. The point is to keep it close and let it remind you.

5. Put it into action!

For the next several days, whenever you make a decision at work or in life such as, “Do I go to that party or work on my novel?”, assign a value label.

If you are having negative thoughts, but one of your values is self-love ask yourself: “Is this thinking aligned with my values?”

Maybe you reframe negative thoughts to those of compassion or decide to practice self-growth.

Pat yourself on your back whenever you values into action. This habit helps frame your new self with consistent positive actions.

Every few months revisit the list. Make sure it defines the best of who you really are.