This article is meant to give you a start in the fascinating world of core values and to show you the first practical steps on how you can discover your core values and better implement them in your everyday life. Ideally, you will end up with 3-5 core values that feel coherent and appropriate because you can identify with them.
First you will get a short overview what core values are and why it is worth knowing your core values. The practical part with the concrete instructions can be found below, under the heading "What are the concrete steps?”
What are core values?
Simply put, core values are words to which we attach great importance because they are the basis for our perceptions, our decision-making and our actions in all areas of daily life. Each person's combination of core values is like a colored pair of glasses through which we perceive our lives and our everyday lives. They determine how we see our environment, what seems important to us and how we make decisions. We feel a strong emotional connection to them, because behind them lies a world of experiences and memories that determine how we think, feel and act.
Why is it important to know your core values?
Being aware of one's hierarchy of core values leads to better decisions, sharper focus, more self-confidence and overall an existence that we experience as meaningful and inspiring.
- More efficient decisions: When we exactly know what is important to us and what we prioritize, it becomes much easier to make decisions. You are less and less likely to be torn, simply because you have clarity about what is important to you and you always act accordingly.
- Laser-Focus: You focus much more specifically only on the things that are in line with your values, with the unimportant simply being dropped without effort. This means that the longer you spend your energy on low-priority things, the less energy you spend on tackling the really important goal
- Self-worth & self-confidence: A positive side effect of better decisions and greater focus is that we achieve our goals faster and easier. As a result, we have more confidence in ourselves because our actions lead to the desired results, which are aligned with our most important values. This can create a positive feedback loop.
- Meaning building & inspired living: If we shape our lives according to our values, we will experience more inspiration and fulfillment in the short and long term, as our lived reality reflects what we deep down see as important and right.
Hopefully, the points above will inspire you to set out on your journey and discover your core values. It is not so much a "determining" of one's core values, but more a "discovering" or "uncovering", as we always and without exception always perceive the world around us by our true values, make our decisions according to this perception and then let these decisions determine our actions.
What are the concrete steps?
1. Selection of a maximum of 30 words
From the list of basic values, choose a maximum of 30 values that appeal to you. As you read through the words, you will react differently to different words, i.e. some will feel stronger and better than others. If you feel a positive reaction or association to a word, write it down or mark it. Try to go through this list relatively quickly. Don't try to intellectually understand why a particular word resonates. You are trying to let your "gut feeling" speak here.
2. Transfer the words to the prepared PowerPoint
In this PowerPoint file, you will find 30 blue boxes for all the values that you selected in step 1. Use one box for each core value that you selected.
3. Creating groups
This is where the very individual work begins, where it is neither right nor wrong. Now you can arrange the blue boxes and move them back and forth so that the words that belong together in your world are together. The point is to "put on paper" a coherent image of your inner hierarchy of values. The words you choose are related to each other, and only you can know how that makes sense. Therefore, let yourself be guided and create 3-6 groups or categories of words as you see fit.
For example, you can arrange them in columns or rows, with bottom/top sorting. Or you can have more of a pyramid structure, where for example the most important values are at the bottom as a base. Or you form concentric circles with the most important values in the middle. In this step, there are countless possibilities of how the groups and clusters can be formed and arranged. The important thing is that it makes sense to you personally and that you map your inner view onto it.
4. Labelling – Naming the groups
Now you have between 3-6 groups, whereby each group can contain a different number of basic values. Now it is a question of describing the categorized core values with an appropriate word, i.e. giving them a label. The label should describe the essence of the group that is most important to you. It can also be useful to pause for a moment to feel the feeling you get when you read through the words and then name the group based on that feeling. Sometimes it is also a specific word in the group that already describes very accurately what the core is about.
5. Arrangement within the group
In this step, you want to find out if and how you can sort the basic values within the group in this way. This can happen in different ways, e.g. from the top (important) to the bottom (less important) or from the bottom (basic, i.e. important) to the top (nice-to-have, less essential). Again, it is important that it makes sense for you individually and that it is immediately clear to you what is important and what is less important when you look at the values.
6. Group arrangement
Not only are the core values within the group related to each other, but also the group as a unit. In concrete terms, this means that a named group can also be seen and arranged in relation to other groups. If necessary, group A forms the basis for group B and should therefore be in a certain place.
7. Describing emotions
As already indicated in step 4, at least one emotion should now be named for each group that arises when reading through and "feeling into" the basic values. In general, we want to find out more positive emotions and minimize the negative emotions - without forgetting the importance and raison d'être of all emotions. The emotions you find can give you further important input into what is important to you and how you want to feel regularly. Often, the actual core values are formed from these emotions.
8. Discovering the real core values
When you look at the labels and the emotions of your groups, is something happening to you? Do these words describe values that are very important to you in your life? Can you see 3-5 labels or emotions that you attach a lot of importance to? Are those values that you encounter again and again in your life and that guide you when you make decisions? Do you have the impression that situations, people and experiences only gain their true meaning through these values?
If so, chances are good that you have found your core values.
Although this is a somewhat long post, there is still much to discover and further steps to deepen.
If you have specific questions or would like to learn more, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.