Core Values
Your "Self"

Core Values: Your Compass for a Happier Life

A version of this post was originally published on January 1, 2016 under the title How to Clarify Your Values and updated on January 17, 2023.

In addition to practicing self-love and knowing you are worthy, honoring your core values is key to creating and living a happy, satisfying life.

Identifying your values helps you get clear on the essence of what you want and will serve as your compass for living a happier life.

“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” - Roy Disney

What Are Core Values?

Values represent what matters to you in life and your core values are those things that matter the most. They are the beliefs or convictions that guide your behavior and support your purpose and vision. Your core values define who you are. They highlight what you stand for and represent your unique, individual essence.

Some examples of values are freedom, harmony, growth, connection, family, fun, integrity, humor, independence, adventure.

Why Core Values Matters

Your values play an enormous role in shaping your life. As you were growing up, many of your values were passed on to you from your parents. Others were picked up from influential people in your life, environmental influences, personal experiences, and everyday conversations.

When you have an awareness of what is really important to YOU, it’s much easier to gravitate towards projects and relationships that bring you joy. Choosing your own personal core values will help to guide you in making decisions and staying focused on your path. Your values relate to your purpose in life and act as a compass to keep you on course. They take you in the direction of living your very best life.

Your Core Values Help You:

  • Navigate your priorities to make decisions easier
  • Stay in alignment with your intentions
  • Avoid confusion and inner conflict
  • Be clear on relationship compatibility
  • Live a more satisfying, fulfilling life

Having an understanding of why establishing your core values is important is just the first step. The next step is to spend some time actually identifying and defining what your core values are, and writing them down. It may be challenging to hone in on your top core values, but it is worth taking the time if you want to live a more joyful, satisfying life.

How to Identify Core Values

There are different ways to identify what your core values are. I'll share two of my favorites here.

The first, and most common method, is to pick them from a list. This is where you review a long list of potential values and make note of the ones that jump out at you or that you resonate with. Make a note of whatever words get your attention, and then narrow them down to a list of six to ten words that feel most important.

You’ll find a values list at the end of this article or you can download a PDF values list here.

One challenge with this method is that some people end up choosing what they think their values should be, rather than what they really are.

For example, if you're a parent you might feel like you should choose 'family' as a core value. “After all,” you might think, “what kind of parent would I be if I didn't think my kids matter most?”

Let go of judgment here. Be honest with yourself and choose authentically.

My second favorite method is The Value Test. This is an automated online tool that helps you decide what is most important to you.

Tips To Remember

1. You aren't limited to the words on the list. If you have a word that resonates with you that is not on the list, use it.

2. When you have multiple words that are similar, choose the word that best captures the essence of what matters to you. For example, I chose Freedom and Independence in my first draft. I decided that Freedom encompasses Independence so that became my final choice.

3. This isn't necessarily something you do in ten minutes so take your time with it. Reflect and let your choices percolate for a few days until it becomes clear what your core values are.

4. It's worth reviewing your values and redoing the exercise from time to time in case your values evolve. Updating your list every 6 to 12 months is ideal.

What To Do With Your List

Once you've identified your core values, write them down somewhere where you can see them regularly. Your ultimate goal here is to have daily experience or expression of each core value on your list. Let them be your compass for making future decisions. When you honor your values you will enjoy life more. You will feel more fulfillment and satisfaction. It will allow you to be your best self.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Core Values List

Abundance

Acceptance

Accessibility

Accomplishment

Accuracy

Achievement

Acknowledgment

Activeness

Adaptability

Adoration

Adventure

Affection

Affluence

Agility

Alertness

Ambition

Amusement

Anticipation

Appreciation

Approachable

Articulate

Assertiveness

Assurance

Attentiveness

Attractiveness

Audacity

Availability

Awareness

Balance

Beauty

Being the best

Belonging

Bliss

Boldness

Bravery

Brilliance

Buoyancy

Calmness

Camaraderie

Candor

Capability

Care

Carefulness

Celebrity

Certainty

Challenge

Charity

Charm

Chastity

Cheerfulness

Clarity

Cleanliness

Clear-mindedness

Cleverness

Closeness

Comfort

Commitment

Compassion

Completion

Composure

Concentration

Confidence

Conformity

Congruency

Connection

Consciousness

Consistency

Contentment

Continuity

Contribution

Control

Conviction

Coolness

Cooperation

Cordiality

Correctness

Courage

Courtesy

Craftiness

Creativity

Credibility

Curiosity

Daring

Decisiveness

Delight

Dependability

Depth

Desire

Determination

Devotion

Devoutness

Dexterity

Dignity

Diligence

Direction

Directness

Discipline

Discovery

Discretion

Diversity

Dominance

Dreaming

Drive

Duty

Dynamism

Eagerness

Economy

Ecstasy

Education

Effectiveness

Efficiency

Elation

Elegance

Empathy

Encouragement

Endurance

Energy

Enjoyment

Entertainment

Enthusiasm

Excellence

Excitement

Exhilaration

Expectancy

Expediency

Experience

Expertise

Exploration

Expressiveness

Extravagance

Extroversion

Exuberance

Fairness

Faith

Fame

Family

Fascination

Fashion

Fearlessness

Ferocity

Fidelity

Fierceness

Financial

Firmness

Fitness

Flexibility

Flow

Fluency

Focus

Fortitude

Frankness

Freedom

Friendliness

Frugality

Fun

Gallantry

Generosity

Gentility

Giving

Grace

Gratitude

Gregariousness

Growth

Guidance

Happiness

Harmony

Health

Heart

Helpfulness

Heroism

Holiness

Honesty

Honor

Hopefulness

Hospitality

Humility

Humor

Hygiene

Imagination

Impact

Impartiality

Independence

Industry

Ingenuity

Inquisitiveness

Insightful

Inspiration

Integrity

Intelligence

Intensity

Intimacy

Intrepidness

Introversion

Intuition

Intuitiveness

Inventiveness

Investing

Joy

Judiciousness

Justice

Keenness

Kindness

Knowledge

Leadership

Learning

Liberation

Liberty

Liveliness

Logic

Longevity

Love

Loyalty

Majesty

Making a difference

Mastery

Maturity

Meekness

Mellowness

Meticulousness

Mindfulness

Modesty

Motivation

Mysteriousness

Neatness

Nerve

Obedience

Open-mindedness

Openness

Optimism

Order

Organization

Originality

Outlandishness

Outrageousness

Passion

Peace

Perceptiveness

Perfection

Perkiness

Perseverance

Persistence

Persuasiveness

Philanthropy

Piety

Playfulness

Pleasantness

Pleasure

Poise

Popularity

Potency

Power

Practicality

Pragmatism

Precision

Preparedness

Presence

Privacy

Proactivity

Professionalism

Prosperity

Prudence

Punctuality

Purity

Realism

Reason

Reasonableness

Recognition

Recreation

Refinement

Reflection

Relaxation

Reliability

Religiousness

Resilience

Resolution

Resolve

Resourcefulness

Respect

Rest

Restraint

Reverence

Richness

Rigor

Sacredness

Sacrifice

Saintliness

Satisfaction

Security

Self-control

Selflessness

Self-reliance

Sensitivity

Sensuality

Serenity

Service

Sexuality

Sharing

Significance

Silence

Silliness

Simplicity

Sincerity

Skillfulness

Solidarity

Solitude

Soundness

Speed

Spirit

Spirituality

Spontaneity

Spunk

Stability

Stealth

Stillness

Strength

Structure

Success

Support

Supremacy

Surprise

Sympathy

Synergy

Teamwork

Temperance

Thankfulness

Thoroughness

Thoughtfulness

Thrift

Tidiness

Timeliness

Traditionalism

Tranquility

Transcendence

Trust

Trustworthiness

Truth

Understanding

Unflappability

Uniqueness

Unity

Usefulness

Utility

Valor

Variety

Victory

Vigor

Virtue

Vision

Vitality

Vivacity

Warmth

Watchfulness

Wealth

Willfulness

Willingness

Winning

Wisdom

Wittiness

Wonder

Youthfulness

Zeal

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