Core values are words that describe a person’s inner compass. Core values provide people with direction when they feel stuck, lost, or at a crossroads. They help you prioritize what’s really important in life. They reflect what gives a person their sense of meaning and purpose.
Values are different than goals, because you can’t check them off a to-do list. They are an ongoing, lived-out state of being. They aren’t something you do just once! A person living a value-driven life can more easily weather ups and down, even during those times that goals get derailed. They’re able to reorient to what’s most important to them because these values are a constant force of character.
Values differ from person to person, and even those with similar values might disagree in how they prioritize one over the other.
To help you identify your core values, you’ll find 5 reflection questions below. Write out your answers to the prompts, if you’re ready!
- Looking back on your life, describe a “mountaintop” experience. This is a moment when you felt the most joyful, exuberant, and on top of the world. What were you doing? Who were you with? How did you get to this point?
- Imagine yourself at your 90th birthday. What do you want to be remembered for? What will you look back on and think– “Yes! That was worth it!”
- If you were to unexpectedly inherit $50 million dollars, how would you spend the money? What would you do with your time if you no longer needed to work to earn money?
- Who are the two people in your life that you most admire? What qualities do you see in them that you aspire to?
- Think about a challenge you’ve experienced in the past. How were you able to get through? What strengths did you exhibit that may have helped you overcome that hard struggle?
After answering the questions above, take a look at this list of Core Values, produced by Living More, LLC. See if you can identify the 3-5 top values for each of the writing prompts, which should give you a total of 15-25 top values. Then, from those top ranking values, try to narrow them down to a Top 5.
What’s next? You can create a personal mission statement formed from your top 5 values. It could start as simply as this: “It’s my mission in life to…..” If you’d like help exploring your values or processing your personal sense of purpose in life, a professional counselor is able to help.