Are you satisfying your core values?

17 May 2017, by The Floatworks
Are you satisfying your core values?

We are all unique. On the outside we all appear different, of course, but that’s not what makes us who we are. Our actions and thoughts go some way to defining who we all are as individuals, but it’s our core values that drive what we do. And when we’re not satisfying our core values, or actively working against them, it creates anxiety and unease within us.

As a most basic example, if you value honesty as a core part of your being, every little lie you tell leaves you feeling guilty and uncomfortable. If family is something you value dearly, you likely feel unease when you’ve left it a while before picking up the phone to your mum, or popping round to your siblings’ for a catch up. They are then, the principles that dictate our behaviour and our actions, they’re what teach us right from wrong. And leaving them unfulfilled leaves us unfulfilled as people.

Readers who work in the corporate sector will no doubt have heard of core values, and undergone exercises to define them in your career, and help you work towards a brighter and more prosperous future.

Companies use core values to define their behaviours – commitment to sustainability, investing in excellence and new talent, equal opportunities for all, and so on. But the same principles can be applied in our day-to-day lives.

Personal core values are what dictate whether we believe in a God, or affiliate with a religion or race; whether we believe that family is of utmost important, or whether honesty is the best policy. On the opposite end of the spectrum, greed, self-interest, and self-preservation are values that may dictate very different behaviour.

There’s a simple exercise we can all do to understand our core values and make us better-aware of whether we’re doing what we need to fulfil them.

James Clear is an author, entrepreneur and photographer who every year sets out the values most dear to him, and reflects on the progress he’s made towards satisfying them over the last year. From there, he sets out objectives for the year ahead.

If you want to give this method a go for yourself, it’s quite simple. First of all, pick five core values from the list below. Which five values do you honestly think define you as a person, or are most aligned with how you view your own beliefs? Pick no more than five, and if you think there are values you’re already satisfying, discard them – you don’t need to work on them!

Authenticity, Achievement, Adventure, Authority, Autonomy, Balance, Beauty, Boldness, Compassion, Challenge, Citizenship, Community, Competency, Contribution, Creativity, Curiosity, Determination, Fairness. Faith, Fame, Friendships, Fun, Growth, Happiness, Honesty, Humor, Influence, Inner Harmony, Justice, Kindness, Knowledge, Leadership, Learning, Love, Loyalty, Meaningful Work, Openness, Optimism, Peace, Pleasure, Poise, Popularity, Recognition, Religion, Reputation, Respect, Responsibility, Security, Self-Respect, Service, Spirituality, Stability, Success, Status, Trustworthiness, Wealth, Wisdom

Once you’ve narrowed it down, ask yourself these questions:

How am I living and working towards satisfying those values now?

How can I set a higher standard in the future?

From there, set out clear goals and actions that will see you working towards better satisfying those values. James creates an annual integrity report so he’s aware of his progress. Have a look here to check that out in more detail.

Of course that’s just one method, and that particular list of values is limited. There are up to 400 depending on your sources. But even more, you don’t need to work from someone else’s guidelines – define your own values if you so wish!

Above all, defining our core values helps us understand who we are, and is the driving force behind our actions. Parents will try to instill their values in offspring, and we often gravitate towards people who have similar values to our own – we all know a happily married couple who were attracted by their shared values, right? Once we’ve defined them, we can all work towards a more positive life, satisfied that our actions are products of who we truly are.

What are your core values? Let’s open up the conversation on Twitter!