Choosing your personal core values is one of the critical focusing decisions that can make an amazing difference in how you live your life. As a person, they reflect the fundamental choices of who we want to be. In our network of connected decisions, they provide the goals and criteria that should influence all our other personal decisions. We derive a sense of fulfillment when living our personal values because our motivations and actions are aligned with the aspirations of who we want to be.
Do you believe in God? If you do, I would expect your core beliefs to be a significant source for the values you choose to live. Certainly, parents, teachers, friends, and coaches have a major influence on what we choose to value. Anyone we consider a credible source (good or bad) can help influence our values, and our interpretation of our own life experiences may be one of our strongest teachers. We need to recognize that our own interpretations of our life experiences may be mistaken, especially during our childhood.
Our behaviors can reveal our current core values. If you haven't made this decision, ask your family and friends what they think are your core personal values. You may be surprised at what you learn. It's possible that you aren't living the values you would intentionally choose. Making this personal choice provides the opportunity to bring your values to a conscious level and make the changes you desire to lead a fulfilled life.
When choosing your personal core values it is important to think about the criteria that you will use to make your selection. Since your personal values decision will have multiple answers, your criteria will also help you to prioritize and limit your list. Using our decision making model, you will want to look at other connected decisions for goals/source requirements that will influence your criteria. If you have already made decisions for a personal vision, mission statement, and/or core beliefs, you should see goals/source requirements that will influence the criteria for this decision.
With your connected decisions in mind, here are some criteria that might help in selecting your personal core values.
Choosing your personal core values, unlike many other decisions, does not have a single answer. There are multiple values that help define the life we want to lead. Expect to find between five to nine values that will become more fixed as you manage your personal values development over time. When you write out your alternative values, be specific enough that you can be clear with yourself on what would or would not exemplify that value. There are many alternatives to consider and here are a few examples:
With any option you consider, it is important to have a clear and distinct description so that you can refine and improve your personal core values based on new experiences and learning. These descriptions will also enable you to be unambiguous when you communicate your values to others.
No person likes making mistakes. Having well defined personal core values helps us avoid making choices that work against who we want to be. Our values become a clear set of guidelines for our words and actions, consistently moving us in the direction aligned with our core beliefs and personal vision. Our life becomes one of our choosing, not one that is directed by the decisions of others. Our values help us build and maintain our identity as unique individuals.
Choosing and knowing your values can provide a number of benefits that include:
Knowing it or not, choosing it or not, all of us have a set of personal core values. Prevent discontent, conflict, frustration and lack of fulfillment by choosing consciously the values by which you want to live.