Personal Core Values
Each of us has our own set of values. These are what determine which aspects of life we regard as important or beneficial. Our values help determine our tastes, our way of life, our entertainment, our social, political and religious interactions. Each of us holds many values and these values are liable to change as we grow, reach different stages of life or have different experiences or influences in life. Some of the values we hold may be ‘superficial’, transitory or fitting solely the moment in which we find ourselves. Other values are more fixed and may stay with us through our life, these are our ‘core values’.
Our values come from a range of sources. Our parents are a key influence upon our values as we grow as children. So too is any church or religious background we’ve experienced. Our society, our neighbors, friends and colleagues too can have an influence upon our values. So too can our teachers and our schooling.
Often school can be a place of conflict for it is there that we experience other values perhaps for the first time. Some of the values we experience in school can be in conflict with or contradict the values of our parents. As we go through high school we start to experience values in ourselves and our peers that conflict both with school and our parents. Conflicting and unfixed values can be a major problem for adolescent and teenage years.
As we grow in years and experience our values become more fixed especially a set of six to ten ‘core’ values. It is these core values that determine what is really important to us as an individual. The surprising thing is that if you ask most people what their values are many would not be able to give you an answer.
A good many people are leading lives unconnected with their core values. This can lead to a life of unhappiness, discontent and lack of fulfillment. Sometimes it can lead to conflict. Often the person does not know why their life seems unhappy, unfulfilled and sometimes full of conflict. Often the cause is that the life they are living is not in accordance with their personal values.
For some people a conflict can arise within them because they are trying to live a life according to the values of a company, an organization, a religious or political organization, the values of their friends or colleagues or partner rather than living a life according to their own core values. In doing this the values of the other people or organizations are being met but the person’s own values are left unfulfilled.
This is not to say that a person is always wrong to seek to support and fulfill the values of other people or organizations. However leaving your own values unfulfilled can lead to frustration and unhappiness.
A key issue in this though is that the person may believe they are doing the right thing by working towards the values of others and yet still feel a sense of frustration and un-fulfillment with the reason being that they may be unaware of their own values or maybe feel guilty of their own values where they conflict with the values of others.
So if you feel your life is unfulfilled, unhappy or maybe has too much conflict then it could be that you are leading a life that is not in accordance with your core values. The question is, ‘Do you know your own personal core values?’
Hiring a personal life coach can certainly help you to discover your personal values but for those who want to start the discovery for themselves try answering the following question:
What In Life Is Important To You?
Don’t think about your answers (yes, there’s likely to be more than one thing that’s important to you), at least don’t think about them at first. Just write down whatever comes into your head no matter how strange, amusing or worrying they may seem.
These first answers are probably your ‘gut’ or ‘intuitive’ answers, sometimes these are closer to the truth than answers that you ‘think’ about. Next think about what is important in life for you. Take some time to consider your answers before writing them down in a word or short phrase.
Don’t worry if some of the same answers appear in your first list, just write them down again.
Now you have two lists. Take a look at them, is there anything there that surprises you or anything that worries you? Sometimes people can be quite surprised by what they write down and occasionally they may write down something that shocks them or they feel guilty about.
Quite common words that people put on their list of values include ‘money’, ‘success’, ‘family’, ‘wife/husband/partner’, ‘growth’ or ‘power’. If you find one or more of these words on your list ask yourself another question:
What Does (The Word) Mean For Me?
So you may ask, ‘What does money mean for me?’ To which the answer could be, money means security or money means success or money means freedom or money means being able to provide for my family.
By answering the second question you can help uncover the real or underlying value for you. So for you money is not the real value it is ‘security’ or ‘being successful’ or ‘being independent’ or ‘being able to provide for your family’ that is the real value.
So by doing these simple exercises you are beginning to discover your personal core values. The next exercise is to ask yourself ‘How do my life, my work and my relationships help fulfill my personal values?’
If you find that they do not help you fulfill your personal values then perhaps you should consider changing your life. To do that get a life coach.
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