Are you tired of living a valueless life? Exhausted by the endless prompts nudging you to figure out “What’s most important to you?” You realize the importance of values, but you are still unable to highlight what to stand for? Do you want a sense of direction and purpose without the hassle? Look no further!
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Core Values Definition
If you still don’t know, ever-lasting happiness is based on two things. First, not needing escapism of any form. For example, when you are sitting right next to your spouse on the sofa, you don’t feel the need to go online and see something else. To be with someone else. The presence of the person next to you is enough for you to feel joy.
Secondly, you have to live up to your values.
But as the Joker says, “Why so serious!”
Value talk is always so serious.
Mainly because the topic is indeed highly important for the person. For us. For our society. For me. For you.
Alas, in our materialistic world where people are becoming famous simply for their ability to document the food they eat – i.e., social media influencers. And memes are becoming cryptocurrencies. It’s hard to keep the attention of a person unless you don’t include a nifty jargon or a cat somewhere – cats always help for grabbing and holding attention.
For this reason. I started this piece like a typical salesman in the mid-80s.
I believe we can make the topic of personal core values more commonly discussed if we start perceiving values as products we can purchase. Something we can hold.
We typically have a vivid imagination. But this is mainly used for… bad. Here are some usual examples: Making up excuses to avoid exercising; Coming up with creative ways to procrastinate; Devising elaborate fantasy scenarios for revenge on our exes; Daydreaming about winning the lottery; And, of course, coming up with reasons why we should keep our nasty social media obsession and Netflix subscription.
When we talk about abstract and important topics like healthy brain habits or values. We need more solid examples. And in our case, more solid examples of personal values.
So what if values are a package? What will include? What will it be like?
Core values can be defined as your moral compass. A GPS. A steering wheel directing you consciously and/or unconsciously towards the place you think will be happiest. Values heavily influence your daily decisions and are the main factors determining your daily habits. Plus, determining whether these will fall into the bucket of good daily habits or bad daily habits.
If you value friendship. And if friendship was a package. When you unpack it. It will include the following:
- Open and honest communication.
- Trust, reliability, and help.
- Supporting and encouraging your friends.
- Sharing interests and regularly doing things together.
- Respectful of the choices of the person.
- Staying in contact with the person.
- Willingness to apologize and forgive.
In a day-to-day situation. If you are in possession of the “Friendship Value Package”. When a friend calls you in the middle of a busy working day, saying that he’s stuck with his car on the road. You’ll likely storm out of the office without even thinking about not doing it.
Conversely, if you value money more than friendship. You’ll likely come up with a clever excuse about why you can assist.
The problems in relation to having clearly defined personal core values are typically twofold:
First, life usually gets so chaotic and disorganized that we forget what we value. And secondly, not taking the time to figure out what to value.
Let’s unpack these in greater detail:
Why We Don’t Follow Our Personal Core Values?
What do you really want out of life?
A typical response is, “I want to be happy. Travel the world. Do something meaningful.”
In reality, what happens is that we are sad for not having the only thing we don’t have. We travel social media, neglecting what happens around us. We work meaningless jobs.1
Not only that our journey for personal core values starts badly. But it also often ends severely worse.
We have a general idea of what we want. But we typically end up only half satisfied.
Why is that?
The first problem – I’ll discuss the other one below – is that times are tough.
You emerge into this world. You are being cared for. You have a carefree childhood – if you are lucky enough to have cool parents. But as soon as you start to realize the many cool ways you can spend your time, you are faced with a concrete block of obligations that is not allowing you past a state of mediocrity.
Plainly, life is challenging. Life gets in the way of what you want to value.
You want to value A. But you eventually start valuing B.
Here are some examples:
- You value creativity. But your job is extraordinarily uncreative.
- You value learning. But the pile of daily obligations is so oppressive, that you never find time to read a book.
- You value honesty. But it’s hard to stay true to yourself when everyone is so dishonest.
- You value independence. But you remain awfully dependent on social media.
- You value freedom. But debt and work make you feel unfree.
Despite all of these setbacks. Value living is marked as the main thing that can lead to sustainable happiness.2 Meaning that if you want to actually smile – not only send smile emojis. You need to regain a sense of control over your life.
To return to our question, “Yes, but how?!?”
The answer is not that straightforward. It’s complicated.
You want freedom. But you also need the money – that’s why you stay in the same job as an account clerk because you are married with kids and at the end of your life you will have the following on your death stone: “He wanted to be an artist, but he settled for an accountant!”
You want to live a healthy life. But you also want to feel good now – that’s why you stuff your body with fat.
In short, there is a conflict between what you value and what you need to do to survive in the world.
So, the question here is:
“What kind of person do you want to be under these challenging conditions?”
Do you want to remain in debt for the rest of your life, or do you want to take gradual steps toward improving your finances?
Do you want to remain unhealthy for the rest of your life, or do you want to take gentle steps toward improving your health?
We will return to these questions in a bit.
Now, let’s discuss the other main problem we face that keeps us feeling miserable and wanting to submerge into the endless pit of products to buy.
List of Personal Core Values
Problem numero dos, my value-less friends.
The reason you can’t escape the online mall offering you more ways to feel less miserable – but with the often not mentioned disclaimer that the joy will last shorter than a one-night stand. Is that we don’t f*cking know what to value.
Sure, you understand the concept of values.
But do you know what exactly to value?
If you’ve picked fame, for example, as a value somewhere during your life. Like accidentally stepping on gum. You can’t get it off. You share, and post, and create “content” online to showcase your awesomeness because others are doing it too.
But do you really think that others care about your new haircut or about your new pair of sneakers?
The main people who refresh their social media accounts like hypnotize monkeys value fame too. Which means that they don’t give a Kentucky flying fried f*ck about what you do. The only time these people will think about you in a positively fashion for more than half a second is if you, “like, share, and subscribe to their channel.”
All of this leads to the following realization: You can’t pick the best personal core values for you if you are not aware of all the possible personal core values first.
To give you a more relatable example.
Say, you suddenly wake up from a 20-year of coma and you don’t know that there are products like washing machines and vacuum cleaners. If this is the case. First of all, welcome! I am sorry to hear about your situation. And secondly, you will continue to wash your dishes by hand and use your old, worn-out broom to clean the floor.
Meaning that it’s a good idea to have access to the world’s portfolio of products – see what’s available – in order to find out the best product for you.
Following this train of thought, to get closer to value living. It’s worth to first see what are the available values in store and pick the ones that relate to you.
After all, how will you choose the best product if you don’t know what are all the products?
To help you with that, here’s a decently long list of personal core values you can choose from:
As you will see, that’s a big list. A huge list.
But what this shouldn’t be is a to-do list. To-get list.
Don’t do the mistake of trying to value everything.
If everything is a core value, then nothing really is a core value.
So, sit down. Close the door. Shut the phone. Disconnect your internet connection and take some time to consider what to value.
Not that you have to decide at this moment. You can simply think about it now and decide at a later stage.
The point is to start thinking about what to value. Eventually, with enough thought and consideration. You will figure it out.
What Are The Top 5 Personal Values?
You didn’t stop to think about your core values, did you?
You want to take the shortcut. You want someone to decide for you.
Plainly, you want the “Core Values Package”. You want to see what others – probably successful people – consider as good-to-have values, so you can copy them, right?
Shame on you.
But I don’t blame you, because…
Only today, the “Core Values Package” is a half prize, and it also comes with a complimentary “Core Values Quiz.”
On a more serious note, I do get you.
It’s challenging to devote to a certain set of beliefs. You want to – if we go with the flow of values as products – see the bestsellers. The top products. The most reviewed items and probably pick them.
If this is the case, here are the top 5 personal values you can surely adopt:
- Integrity: Integrity is about being honest and trustworthy. Being true to oneself and others. People who possess integrity are respected and valued by others for their rigor and consistency in their words and actions.
- Discipline: This value involves self-control and determination. Plus, the mental stamina to delay gratification in order to achieve long-term goals. Disciplined people don’t stop until their goals are reached and possess undeniably powerful time management skills.
- Self-motivation: This value involves taking initiative, being proactive, and having a strong sense of purpose. Self-motivated folks are energetic and don’t easily get discouraged or demotivated by obstacles or setbacks.
- Growth: Valuing growth is all about having a desire to continuously learn and develop as a person. Keeping an open mind, not getting stuck in the status quo, and willingness to learn from your mistakes.
- Empathy: Your ability to understand and share the feelings of others is a powerful skill. Empathetic people quickly connect with others and build strong healthy relationships. They are able to understand other people’s perspectives which greatly contributed to the relationship.
How Do I Identify My Personal Core Values?
The process of value living starts with value creation.
Figuring out first what you currently value, so you align your life trajectory in line with what you consider worthy – or should start considering as worthy.
You are probably familiar with the drill. You need… quiet time and the ability to answer some worn-out questions. Questions like:
- What is important to you in life?
- What does a successful and meaningful life look like to you?
- What do you want to be remembered for?
The problem here is something called availability bias.3
When we answer these questions. We determine what should guide our whole life based on what is guiding our life now.
For instance, if I ask my son who is currently 4 years old, “What does a successful and meaningful life look like to you, my son?”
He will probably answer: “Fill my room with Legos and comic books. That’s what’s meaningful to me, dad!”
This is the case for him because a) he is 4 years old, b) he wants easy and fun, and c) he freakishly loves Legos and comic books – at least for now. Surely this will change within a year or two.
Similarly, if you ask a typical social media influencer, “What does success and meaning look like to you?” They’ll probably respond with: “expanding my reach as an influencer and making the world a better place!” Of course, we can all agree that the latter is BS.
The availability bias is our tendency to look at what is currently available. Sadly, this prevents us from imagining what should be available and important to us.
In some situations, if you are blissfully happy and extraordinarily satisfied with your life. Focusing on what is happening now is good. But let’s be honest, if everything was fine and dandy, you wouldn’t have read the article this far.
This means that to find what success looks like to you in a more grand way of things. You need to take another perspective. An awfully long-term perspective.
One way this can be done is by asking yourself the following question:
“If you use your flesh as a canvas to remind yourself what is dearest to you – i.e., get a tattoo. What ink adorning your skin will you choose and why?”
Since tattoos are long-term stains on your skin. Something that will mark your flesh for eternity. Reflecting on what type of artwork you are willing to allow on your body will help you figure out what truly matters to you.
Say you agree to get a tattoo of a swordsman slaying a big dragon. In this case, you probably value courage and bravery. Or, if you consider something fancier like butterflies or angel wings. In this case, you probably value freedom and beauty.
Once you have a worthy answer, the next question here will be:
“To what extent are you currently living in line with what you deeply value?”
If the answer is not satisfactory, read below…
How To Follow My Personal Core Values?
Once you know what to value. Once you finally see your north start. You eventually realize the awful truth about values:
It’s incredibly hard to keep valuing things worth valuing.
What a mouthful, right?
Let me explain…
I’ve experienced the agony of holding what I value in several life domains that I consider worthy.
One example is valuing health and sport.
For reasons I can’t explain. I got engaged in jogging. I’ve been running outdoors since I was 18. No one told me to do it. I simply started doing it.
And while this is a pretty standard activity. None of my friends and family members share this interest nor find value in forcefully propelling oneself forward on a track regardless of the weather outside.
This interest of mine often clashed with the activities of the group – my friends. They wanted to go out, I wanted to run a 5k.
And being a people pleaser back then, I often re-scheduled my running session – or not do at all – just to satisfy the desires of my buddies and don’t feel left out.
A more common example is valuing creativity and independence.
It’s quite normal for people to want to express themselves through some sort of art – writing, singing, traveling, cooking, or photographing strangers outside. But the demands of life usually get in the way of these personal principles.
All your heart wants is to sing and tell your story. But where you end up is in the marketing department of an agency where you help other singers tell their stories.
You see these lucky bastards living the life you want but it’s, “already too late for me!” Or, “I can’t take the risk,” you tell yourself.
Probably you discovered your voice just recently. Or, probably you knew about this from an early age, but you were always working to help your mom and dad make ends meet, and now you do the same for your own family.
Whatever the case, there are hundreds of thousands of people whose dreams get crushed by our universal need for resources – a.k.a. money. People who once wanted to be actors or musicians, eventually end up working for actors or musicians.
Over time, after taking many blows from life. These people settle for Netflix and chill. Numbing their pain by following more people on social media. They continuously watch TV shows of other successful people and subscribe to follow celebrities, because it makes them feel closer to what their hearts desire.
The point here is that there is no easy way to follow your personal core values.
It requires hard work and addressing the following question:
“What can you do now to get closer to the person you want, based on your current conditions?”
You value creativity. But your current conditions extract every ounce of creativity out of your soul.
Regardless of this, you can always do something to support your values if you want them bad enough.
For people who do indeed value creativity and self-expression through music. This can mean something modest like:
“I will find time in my day to sing. Get an instrument and organize weekly gatherings with my family members where we can all sing and dance.”
Or something more ambitious like:
“I can record myself singing and then upload these videos to my YouTube channel. Over time, I will find someone to help me with the videos – make them more appealing and algorithm-friendly. All of this, so I can earn a living through singing .”
Some Closing Thoughts
It’s shopping season online. It’s always shopping season online. But today, choose something different. Don’t get another pair of “I don’t really need this, but I will purchase it to feel a bit better right now!”
Shop for values. Look for values. Figure out what your personal core values should be.
Don’t settle for a mediocre, valueless life any longer.
I know I can’t change your values with a simple article. I know I can’t convince you to let go of your current deeply-held corrupting beliefs. After all, trying to convince someone to value something else before they are ready has the opposite effect – people double down and resist changing themselves.
Instead, my hope is to make you think more about what you value now, and what you should potentially value more in the future. I want to plant a seed. Instill the thought about the importance of values.
The more the conversation about what is important in your life happens in your head. The more you will think about this and thus eventually make a positive change. If the conversation ceases. Your thoughts will jump back to what is insignificant – trends and famous people. So keep the conversation about values going in your head. Keep it alive to keep the important values alive.
If you want to dig deeper into the topic of values, check the following:
- Core Values Exercise: A Scientific Method for Achieving Life Goals
- Audit Your Beliefs: Think About What To Think About
- Existentialism Is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre [Actionable Summary]
- Optimistic Nihilism Explained: Turn Meaninglessness Into Determination
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- Only a quarter of employees worldwide felt a strong sense of purpose in their work. Source: Aaron De Smet, Bonnie Dowling, Bryan Hancock, and Bill Schaninger. The Great Attrition is making hiring harder. Are you searching the right talent pools? in McKinsey Quarterly. On the web: https://mck.co/3zrWS81
- Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing Happiness: The Architecture of Sustainable Change. Review of General Psychology. On the web: https://doi.org/10.1037/1089-2622.214.171.124
- Availability bias is when we make judgments based on the most easily available and salient examples, rather than a representative sample of all the available information. It leads to overgeneralizing and underestimating rare events. A book that covers this bias in-depth – and not only – is Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.