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  • Writer's pictureLuna

What drives you?

Updated: Aug 12, 2021

Knowing what you are all about and living in alignment with your personal core values is an integral part of the work we do in SACH programs and one of the keys to living a meaningful, fulfilling life.

Otherwise, you will live your life based on the things that other people have decided are important, and if you do that long enough, you’ll notice that you feel angry and resentful. Eventually, life may even start to feel wholly unsatisfying or even meaningless.

To create more meaning and satisfaction in your life, the first step is to define your personal core values. Today, I am going to walk you through how to do just that. But first, let’s talk about what personal core values are and go a bit deeper into why they matter.

What Are Personal Core Values?

Your personal core values define who you are and what matters to you as an individual. Ideally, your values establish where you invest your time, energy, and resources.

Personal core values are different than goals. Goals are accomplishments to which you aspire to achieve, and once you’ve reached your goal, you mark it as done and set a new one. Values, on the other hand, are about how you consciously choose to show up in relationships, at work, and in the way you navigate your inner thoughts. You commit to values daily and never reach a final destination. Your values are a lifelong practice.

Values are typically defined with single words or phrases like:

  • Equality

  • Connection

  • Acceptance

  • Freedom

  • Courage

Most people have a between six and ten values that are very important to them, and at the heart of those values, you’ll typically find three or four core values. Your core values are the things you prioritize above all else.

Don't be surprised when your values change over time. As you move through different seasons in your life, grow, and start to know yourself better, your core values will change, too. I would encourage you to revisit your values at least once per year.

Why Defining Your Personal Core Values Matters

When you live in integrity with your personal core values, you will feel a profound sense of meaning and satisfaction in your life. More specifically, knowing (and honoring) your values will improve your life in the following ways:

You’ll find it much easier to make decisions.

When you know what your personal core values are, making decisions is much easier because your values provide a boundary container in which aligned decisions can be made. Instead of looking at the pros and cons of each choice, you can notice how each option aligns with your values, or not. The best choice, for you, becomes clear when you look at them in the context of your values.

You’ll know where to invest your time, energy, and resources.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that we all get the same 24 hours in a day. And it’s true. They key is knowing how to prioritize your time.

When we aren’t clear on our values, we tend to prioritize the things we “should” do or are “expected” to do, and that often leaves little room for the stuff that actually matters.

When you get clear on your values, you can begin investing your time in the things that are important to you instead of spending it on things that don’t.

Which leads me to my next point…

Your values will show you where your “blocks” are.

When you start defining your personal core values and compare them to how you are showing up in your life each day, you will likely come across some places that aren’t in alignment. Finding misalignments isn’t a reason to beat yourself up or freak out; it’s an invitation to heal the root cause of the misalignments so that you can move forward with deeper integrity.

For example, let’s say that personal and spiritual growth is important to you, but despite your cram packed bookshelf and a hard drive full of courses and ebooks, you rarely invest time in actually learning from them and applying the concepts.

This doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough or any of that BS.

It’s an invitation to see what is really going on there. Maybe there’s something you’re afraid of facing or perhaps your time isn’t balanced in a way that allows for personal growth time because you think that carving out time for yourself is selfish.

No matter what it is, use the misalignments as doorways into healing so that you can move forward in a way that truly satisfies you.

You’ll feel more “like yourself.”

When your personal core values are clearly defined, and you take consistent and sustainable action towards living in integrity with those values, you’ll feel more confident and alive. You will know who you are and managing self-doubt will become infinitely easier.

You’ll know what your goals are.

Remember when I said that values are different than goals? Well, that doesn’t mean goals aren’t necessary for growth. The key, though, is to set goals based on your values, instead of someone else’s.

For example, I often see women setting goals that are based on the values of other people, such as getting a certain degree, losing weight, or saving up for a particular bag or shoes. It always shocks them when they work hard to reach those goals and then don’t feel happy the way they thought they would.

When you set goals based on YOUR values, that is much less likely to happen.

You’ll feel empowered.

One of the themes you can likely see running through all of these benefits is the empowerment that comes from choosing what is right for you. So many of the women I’ve worked with come to me at a crossroads in their lives; they feel jaded from chasing our culture’s ideas of happiness (thinness, money, “perfect” relationship, etc.) and aren’t really sure how to get themselves “back.”

By defining your personal core values, you’ll know exactly where to start. You’ll take your power back and move forward in ways that really serve you.

So, now that you understand why it is so vital to define your personal core values let’s talk about how to actually do it.

How to Define Your Personal Core Values

To create more meaning and satisfaction in your life, the first step is to define your personal core values, and I am going to walk you through how to do now.

1. Create some sacred space for yourself. This is significant work and deserves devoted and focused time. There is absolutely no reason to rush through it. So, please do take your time and don’t move onto the next step until you feel “complete” with the stage you are on.

2. Print off the personal core values list (you can get it in the ‘resources’ section of this website), and begin by circling all of the words that feel resonant to you. Do not hold back.

3. Refine this list down into 10 values.It can be helpful to group similar words together and see if there is a word that captures all of the words into one. For example, you may have circled words like integrity, honesty, and trustworthiness and decide that integrity captures all of them.

4. Refine the ten words into six. At this point in the process, you want to be focusing less on weeding out similar words and more on discerning which ones are the most important to you.

To do that, you can pair two words together and “pit” them against each other by asking:

If I had to choose {word one} or {word two}, which one would I choose? And repeat that process until you’ve compared all the words and found your six.

5. Refine the six words into four (using the “pitting against” process as necessary). These four values will now be known as your personal core values. As you do this, it is important to remember that as your list of personal core values gets smaller, you aren’t saying that the other things aren’t relevant to you. You are just defining what is MOST important, which is what is going to give you that profound clarity and decision-making power that I mentioned before.

6. Take your four personal core values and rank them in order of importance to you. You can use the “pitting against” process to help with this.

7. Write your personal core values on individual post-it notes and allow yourself to “just be” with them for a little while. As you sit with the energy of each word, you’ll be able to feel whether or not those words actually encompasses your personal core values or not. Trust yourself here and adjust as necessary.

Once you have defined your personal core values, it can be helpful to see how in alignment you are with each value and then start making adjustments in your life. Depending on how far off you are, it may take some time to get into full alignment, so, please be patient with yourself.

It’s important work, and it is so worth it when you can genuinely say that you are living in alignment with the things that are most important to you. That is what Integrity is.

This article has been written by Christie Inge and has been slightly modified. Here is the link to the original article:

Thank you so much for a wonderful article, Christie!

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