Identifying your core values

Hi Everyone!

I hope you all have a positive week! You may recall from my last week’s post about setting goals for success. The top tier of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was self actualisation. This was all about achieving one’s full potential and I said that thinking about your core values would be useful in developing your best self. The purpose of the post this week is to provide a guide on how to identify your core values.

What is a core value and why do they matter?

During one of my work training sessions, we were given a task to identify our core values and discuss situations where we found ourselves going against our core values and how we felt. We were given 15 minutes to stare a list of core values and had to select and rank 5 values which were important to me. I became flustered and stressed because I was striving to find the “right answer” and whether I should be choosing core values that people would consider a “good value” or values that would make me a “good employee”. Not surprisingly, I just kept pretty quiet during the group discussion.

However, it really did get me thinking, what are core values and why do they matter?

Core values are principles that represent your highest priorities and deeply held beliefs. Ultimately, it will help you answer the question – What is most important to you? Core values are what we stand for and because of this, it will impact our behaviours, decisions, and action. They help you set certain boundaries; if not you may find yourself always being controlled by external factors, as others try to impose their values on you. Therefore, by being able to identify your core values will help you focus and set goals that would lead to self-fulfilment.

Identifying your core values

Step 1: Create Value Cards

There is no right way of doing this but when I was given a list of values on a screen, I found it really hard to complete the task. I wanted a more active exercise where I was moving around a bit, so I created value cards (using Microsoft Word – nothing fancy). If you want to use the same value cards as me, please feel free to print off this pdf file. Go on – who doesn’t love a bit of arts and crafts?

My list is from James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, it certainly is not the most exhaustive list as there are others with over 200 values. However, I thought that it was too overwhelming and wanted to eliminate the problem of having a list filled with words with similar meanings.

Step 2: Game of Speed

The next step has to be completed quickly! This is to stop your conscious mind comparing one value to another; like what I did for work. Remember, there is no right answer, this is purely for you and is a self awareness exercise. When you pick up a value card, you must decide the following:

  • Yes (I identify with this)
  • No (I don’t identify with this)
  • Don’t know?! (I am panicking and finding this is too hard so I will circle back)

Once you have your three piles, you will have to go back to the “Don’t Know” pile and repeat this step until your cards are sorted into two piles – Yes and No.

Step 3: Group similar values

At this stage, you can now ignore the No pile and focus on the Yes pile. If you have less than 5 cards, congratulations! – you have identified your core values. so you can skip onto the next section.

For those who have more than 5 cards see if you can group words that are similar or around similar themes. Try not to make more than 5 groups (as we are trying to get less than 5 core values).

Step 4: Pick less than 5 cards

From those groups pick one word that best represents the group. I found that you should go for the word that resonates the most with you. we are aiming for pick less than 5 words. The reason for this is that it will be meaningless if we have a lot of values as it would be hard to prioritise.

What next?

After all that fun, having a pile of five words can be feel anticlimactic, but what you have in your hand is what matters to you and that is a big deal! Take a note of the values ( I just snapped a picture of my phone) and sit with the words for a few days and weeks and see how they can be applied to different parts of your life. Think about big decisions you have made; such as career changes and relationships, can you see how your values may have guided your decision making?

If you were forced in a situation where you had to go against those values, how would it make you feel? What are your triggers?

With those questions in mind, have a look at your goals that you have set and consider whether these goals align to your values. If not, why aren’t they aligned? Are you setting goals because there is an external force such as family or societal pressures?

I have only completed the task whilst I filmed the YouTube video below but my values were:

Compassion, Influence, Wealth, Growth and Balance

I will need a bit of time to reflect on whether my current roles and goals matches the above, I will let you know later on how I get on. In the meantime, would love to hear how you found the exercise and whether you found it useful. Was it enlightening for you? Did you feel that you manage to learn a little bit more about yourself? Please leave me a comment below.

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

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