Have you ever accomplished something you worked hard on or got something you wanted, but ended up not feeling happy with it? If so, it is possible that what you worked on isn’t actually something you truly wanted, nor something you really value. Could it be that you’re simply following the herd, but that your personal core values list doesn’t align with those of people around you? If the answer is yes, you may be feeling isolated, hopeless, or lost.
Personal Core Values and Authenticity
The world around you is a powerful influence, and no man is an island. The society and culture we live in, as well as everyone we come in contact with, shape us and our personal core values list. And we do the same in return! It’s good to know that oftentimes, these influences are positive and help us grow.
Still, you may find yourself passively accepting the values your family, friends, or superiors imposed on you. And even if you accept and reach those goals, you may still feel empty and unaccomplished. What’s worse, trying to please others can make you feel frustrated or even lead to mental or physical illness.
Accepting Your Uniqueness
The first thing you need to know is this: you deserve happiness and fulfillment, no matter how lost you feel. That is true, regardless of how your personal core values differ from other people’s.
It’s important to accept that “different” doesn’t always mean “worse.” Your uniqueness is what gives the world variety. Only after you put yourself first can you truly shine. Only after you accept yourself can you inspire others to do the same!
It’s also important to know that your values are monumental to becoming your true self. So, read on to discover your personal core values list and learn how to live authentically.
Why Values Matter
Before you start working on your personal core values list, it’s good to know why values matter. It’s also essential to understand what personal and social values are. After you do, you can begin to appreciate what makes your personal core values list unique.
Personal values are tremendously important to many philosophers and psychologists. So, it’s no wonder that so many great thinkers have spoken and written about them so much!
Philosophers on Values
Many wise philosophers have lived by the things they valued, such as truth, justice, or courage. They’ve spoken about the importance of values and what they bring into your life.
For example, Armin Houman says that “Values are the definition of our actions in life.” So, your values structure your actions and give them purpose.
On another note, values can also give direction to the things you do. “A highly developed values system is like a compass. It serves as a guide to point you in the right direction when you are lost,” says Idowu Koyenikan.
Their words can offer you comfort and help you understand the importance of values better!
Psychologists on Values
Similarly, psychologists have tried to define the core human values that make up a personal core values list. According to social psychologists, values are abstract, desirable states that people strive to achieve or aim to uphold. As an example, they cite values such as freedom, loyalty, or tradition. It is values such as these that shape our preferences and goals and guide our actions.
And though they guide our actions and reactions, values are intangible. Because of that, sometimes it may be difficult to see which values are influencing a certain behavior. For example, someone can be angry because of an unjust verdict since they value justice. And someone else might react angrily because they have to face the consequences of their actions.
Also, some values might be more important and more fundamental than others — they can stack up in a hierarchy of a personal core values list. In general, more abstract and more fundamental values influence more concrete ones. It is these fundamental values that make up the “core” of your personal core values list.
It’s important to know the difference between personal values and social or cultural values. As the name suggests, personal values make up your personal core values list, and are what gives you your authenticity.
Social and cultural values are, to put it simply, values characteristic of that society or culture. The institutions, traditions, and social norms in that exact culture are what shapes them. As such, they vary across different parts of the world and depend on the time period.
To illustrate, freedom and individuality are important values in the Western world. By contrast, in Eastern countries, a sense of community is what matters more than individuality.
So, it’s likely that if you take an average American, they will care about personal freedom more than an average Korean. And it’s also likely that if you take an average Korean, they will value other people more than the average American.
This love of freedom can take different shapes. It will also manifest through actions like speaking out or fighting for social justice. Caring about others can also mean offering help whenever they need it. You can show you care by giving someone a harsh wake-up call, too!
I’ll quickly illustrate a difference in values when it comes to time periods. In the past, people cared more about strict social structures. For example, a knight couldn’t act like a princess, and vice versa! By contrast, nowadays we value equality a lot more.
Understanding the Difference Between Various Types of Values
When you live in a society, it can be hard to figure out which values are your own. It’s likely that you have passively accepted at least some of other people’s ideals. However, having unique values isn’t necessarily a bad thing! So, it’s up to you to be brave and look into yourself to make a personal core values list.
Luckily, the following exercises can help you with that. From flashcards to worksheets, here’s how to go about creating your list:
Your Personal Core Values List
Values Exercise #1: Finding Your Personal Core Values
I’ll be using values flashcards in Exercise #1. Let’s begin!
To do this exercise, follow the steps down below.
Step 1: Grab some personal values flashcards (you can make your own or use ready-made ones) and a piece of paper.
You can substitute the flashcards with a personal core values list (like the one at the end of this article).
Regardless of what you use, cards or a list, this will be a time for reflection! The exercise will hopefully let you outline your core values. In case you think the list below doesn’t include something you care about very much, you can add your own values too.
Step 2: Quickly run through the values on the list.
This step will help you narrow down your personal core values list a little bit! To do this, quickly run through the cards and ask yourself, “Is this me?”
If the answer is no, add the value to the “no” pile. Likewise, make a “yes” pile of the cards that feel like you.
This is just the start, so you shouldn’t think about every value too deeply. There’s time for that in the next step!
Step 3: Narrow down your “yes” pile.
The goal of this step is to narrow down your “yes” pile to your five core personal values. You may find this step a bit harder than the previous one! To make it easier, here are some tricks to help you create your personal core values list.
Narrowing Down Your Personal Core Values List
First of all, you should repeat the same process as above with your “yes” pile. At some point, the remaining cards will all feel important to you. This is where the tricks come in!
Separating Social and Personal Core Values
You have already learned about the difference between social and personal values. That is important because it will help you narrow down your personal core values list. You are looking to find which values are authentically yours and not imposed by others.
You should try to remember the situations when you came into conflict with others. Conflict isn’t easy to think about, but it will be useful in this case. Why did the fight happen? What was it that you were defending?
If you’re ready to fight for something, regardless of social harmony, it’s likely that’s a value that matters to you. Likewise, if you defend something passionately, that value is probably among your top five.
It’s also a good idea to think of organizations you joined and are an active participant in. Often, those are the indicators of values that you yourself might not be aware of. What do those organizations stand for? If you think those things are worth fighting for, they must be very important to you — and are likely on your personal core values list.
The Complexity of You
You may find it useful to remember what you were like when you were younger. What was it you cared about, and are those values still important to you? How did they change over the years? When you hold certain values for a long time, they are probably essential to you and should be on your personal core values list.
And, as a final trick, it can be helpful to imagine an ideal version of yourself. Who is the person you want to be like, and what does that person value deeply? What would you care about if you had no daily struggle and strife? That is what’s integral to you, and should be among the top five on your personal core values list.
Did these tips help you to find your five most important values?
In case you’ve forgotten why those five values matter so much — they are abstract and fundamental! As such, they are the highest in the hierarchy of your personal core values list. They should be your most important guiding principles and influence your actions the most.
Values Exercise #2: Understanding Your Values
Exercise #2 uses the Tomi Llama values worksheet.
After you’ve narrowed down your values and figured out which ones are the most important, you can use that knowledge to improve and succeed. Additionally, by being more mindful and aware of your core values, you can see how they impact others. This exercise will help you understand when your values help, and when they harm you and people around you.
The first thing to do before you start the exercise is to understand what you’re supposed to do. The worksheet contains cells for each of the values on your personal core values list. You’ll also find cells that will help you identify how your core values impact your life.
There are two ways that your values manifest in your life: above-the-line and below-the-line. Above-the-line means that your values improve your life and the lives of others, and bring you joy and fulfillment. Below-the-line, on the contrary, means that some parts of your personal core values list harm you.
It may come as a shock that your core values can harm you somehow. Shouldn’t they bring you bliss and success?
Well, yes, but values don’t exist in a vacuum. Becoming more aware of how they impact you can be the first step to change, where you need it. It’s good to become more mindful of how your values manifest and learn to channel them in more positive ways. It’s best to live according to your ideals, while making sure they benefit others as well!
Examples and Tips
I’ll give you an example of my own. I’ve come to realize that I’m someone who values productivity. This manifests in my willingness to take on difficult tasks and to tackle them right away. So, I rarely struggle with deadlines, and get quite a bit done! And often, I can say I’m proud of my work.
On the other hand, my need for productivity can harm my health and personal life. If I can’t get to a task immediately, I get antsy and can snap at others. And if I take on too much work, I can crumble under the workload and isolate myself. Obviously, that’s not ideal for anyone!
Using the personal core values list worksheet has helped me come to terms with my unhealthy habits. And it has helped me consider which of my behaviors harm myself and others.
I have become mindful of when I need to separate work from personal life. In doing so, I can take care of my mental health and be kinder to other people. And when I recognize the need for it, I can use my productivity to solve the problems of my loved ones. If you are currently in need of support for your mental health, click here.
How Your Values Impact Others
Try to sit back, meditate, and reflect on how your personal core values list impacts you and those around you. Then, try to think of ways you can change your harmful behavior.
It can be difficult to recognize that you are causing pain to others — and yourself, sometimes. That’s why it can be useful to talk to those close to you. You can ask them about the times something you did didn’t feel right to them. Try to see whether that’s related to your values.
It might be hard putting yourself out there like that! But remember, it’s brave to be vulnerable, and even more so when you know you’re doing it for a good cause. Soon, you can learn to direct your efforts better, and improve your own and the lives of others!
Personal Core Values List
You will find the 250+ personal core values list below! You can use this list to figure out what your values are. In case you can’t find something important to you, feel free to add it to the list.
Be Of Service