Discover Your Core Values: Life Design 101 Series

Posted by Olena Mytruk

Everyone seems to talk about finding your Core Values, but what does that really mean?

Today, we’ll cover practical ways to discover your Core Values. And maybe even more importantly, how to use them to make your life more fun, enjoyable, and meaningful.

In the previous articles, we discussed Life Design and the foundational principles. We also shared the first in the Life Design 101 series: Achieving Your Goals with Life Domains.

Now, it’s time to answer an important question.

WHAT ARE YOUR CORE VALUES?

The four core components of Life Design are:

We’re on the second core component: Core Values

What are Core Values?

I like the very simple definition that core values are things, ideas, principles, and beliefs that are important to you.

The funny thing is you probably have hundreds of things that are important to you.

Some examples of Core Values include:

  • Integrity
  • Joy
  • Love
  • Kindness
  • Creativity
  • Exploration
  • Autonomy
  • Balance
  • Connection
  • Belonging
  • Wealth
  • Wisdom
  • Leadership
  • Independence

Anything can be a Core Value. How do you pick what’s most important to you?

So, the questions we should be asking ourselves are:

  • What are the most important Core Values?
  • Which values are manifested in your life or several areas of your life?
  • What meaning is behind those words?

All of the examples above are just words.

What do they mean to you? How exactly do you understand them?

How you and I see kindness will likely be completely different because each of us has our own stories, experiences, and ways of expressing ourselves.

What do your Core Values give you, and how can they improve your quality of life?

There are so many advantages of knowing and living in line with your Core Values.

Let’s name a few.

Your Core Values help you:

  1. Set the right priorities
  2. Make decisions
  3. Set a direction, acting like a compass

Knowing your values will help you understand which direction you want to take, the decisions you want to make, and the priorities you set.

By knowing your Core Values, you can align those things to them.

By setting priorities and making decisions based on your Core Values, you can eliminate the fear of missing out.

People often fear missing out on other opportunities by choosing a certain path.

The hard truth is…

There are many things in this life that you won’t do. You won’t have the capacity. There are only 24 hours in day, seven days in a week, 12 months in a year.

So it’s impossible to get everything done.

You have to choose.

When you pick things that align with your values, you feel much better about making those decisions and priorities.

You care less about other things that you leave behind because you know why you made your decision in the first place.

CORE VALUES BRING YOUR ATTENTION TO THE PRESENT

Whenever you ask yourself what’s important to you, you are asking in the present moment.

You’re bringing your attention to what’s happening in your life right now.

Figuring out your Core Values helps you be more mindful about what’s going on in your life right now.

As a result, you start to notice more good things happening around you.

Another advantage of knowing your Core Values is that whenever you take action in line with them, you feel much more joy, excitement, and fulfillment.

Do you ever have days when you try to do a million different things, but at the end of the day, you feel like you’ve done nothing?

And then there are other days when you only do a few things, yet you go to bed feeling accomplished, satisfied, and like you’ve done something important.

Those latter days are because you’ve accomplished something aligned with your values.

That’s great news for all of us!

You don’t have to do a million different things to be productive or feel accomplished.

Feeling productive is not about how many things you’ve checked off your to-do list.

It’s about whether those things are aligned with your Core Values and are truly important to you right now.

CORE VALUES HELP US SET THE RIGHT GOALS AND ACHIEVE THEM

Knowing your Core Values and acting in line with good Core Values gives you the best possible motivation.

That goal you’re setting for yourself will inspire you so much that you’ll pursue that goal no matter what.

No obstacles will be big enough to stop you because when you work on that goal, it’s a manifestation of your values.

It’s not about somebody giving you a thumbs up or telling you what a good job you did.

It’s all about that impact, that value itself.

Let’s look at an example.

Let’s say you started a business.

  • You probably started it because you wanted to positively impact the world.
  • You didn’t start your business to prove to somebody that you can.
  • You started because you want more people to live a better life.

That’s a value. It’s not about you. It’s about other people being happier.

Once you are aligned with this in your business and every area of your life, then every goal becomes achievable.

This is why the concept of Core Value is key in my Life Design framework and inside Breverie 10x.

But there is a caveat…

Not all values are good values.

Value is anything important to your life.

If you’re seeking approval or trying to prove to somebody that you’re worthy, then their approval is valuable to you.

It is a value, but not necessarily a good one.

That’s why I like to divide values as internal vs. external.

External values come from outside. It is an external force or pressure trying to match societal norms or expectations.

Internal values are the ones that come from your heart, and you know they’ll help you live a better, happier life.

Sometimes, it’s impossible to determine if a value is internal vs. external because we all live in a society and are being influenced by our community,

So what really matters is how it makes you feel.

There’s a very quick and fun test to determine if your value is good.

Does your value make you feel like you have wings? Would you go and do it no matter what obstacles come up?

If the answer is yes, then it’s a very good sign that it’s a good value.

On the other hand, if just thinking about it makes you feel pressured, exhausted, or smaller, then it might not be the right value for you.

HOW TO DISCOVER YOUR CORE VALUES

Now that you know how important Core Values are, it’s time to learn how to discover what they are.

Start by asking yourself what kind of person you want to be in a particular situation.

When you ask yourself this question, it helps you stay calm and prevent stress and overwhelm.

Not only that, but it will help you find the right decision.

If you’re in a work meeting and everyone is arguing, decide what kind of person you want to be.

You might discover that you value teamwork and collaboration. You might realize that you don’t want to be someone who argues and can’t come to a decision.

Now, think of a happy and fulfilling memory.

What did you do that made you feel this way? Can you determine where exactly that feeling was coming from?

Maybe you created something out of nowhere, and creativity is one of your values. Maybe you stayed calm in a challenging family situation, and you were able to express love.

Think about those situations and what the root cause was for how you felt.

Another fun and simple exercise for determining your Core Values is…

To think about a tattoo you have or have thought about getting.

Why did you get or do you want that particular tattoo?

Usually, when we do something regarding our body, it has meaning.

What is the meaning?

And last but not least, you can analyze your relationships with people, whether it’s your spouse, your kids, your coworkers, etc.

You will notice that sometimes you like some things about your relationships, and sometimes you get annoyed.

Sometimes, someone does something that you respect, which means it’s probably in line with your Core Values.

And other times, someone might be doing something that contradicts your Core Values…

A greater indicator of what your Core Values actually are.

A barrier to determining your Core Values.

While trying to discover what’s important to you, you might notice a block inside your mind that tells you something is impossible.

Don’t let that mental block prevent you from dreaming big!

If you want to discover your Core Values, you have to dream big. You will need to overcome that block and assume anything is possible.

That logical mind can sometimes block our thought process before it even gets started.

It’s really hard to overcome it, but it’s possible.

And here’s how…

I call this the wild question — a question that helps you temporarily overcome that block and start dreaming big.

The wild questions are:

  1. What would you do if you could not fail?
  2. What would you do if you woke up tomorrow and realized you had just won the lottery?

The most important part here is to not stop at the superficial answer.

If you win the lottery, your first reaction might be to travel the world.

This isn’t a Core Value.

You need to go deeper. After you’ve traveled, what will you do?

You need to move through the stereotypical answers to find the real Core Value.

So your goal here as you discover your Core Values is to stay curious about yourself and what’s important to you.

DISCOVERING YOUR CORE VALUES IS NOT A ONE-TIME EXERCISE

It’s a lifelong process. As your life progresses, your values will change.

When you become a parent, change jobs, move to another part of the world, get married, get divorced…

Your Core Values will change, so always check in with yourself.

What did I do today when I felt happy or fulfilled or satisfied? What wasn’t there?

Stay curious all the time because this is how you’ll become better.

This is how you’ll design your life: by creating more moments that make you feel good.

Many people believe life is all about finding purpose, and I think this is a dead end.

First of all, there are multiple purposes in life for each of us.

I also think purpose isn’t found. It’s created by us living in line with our values.

Your purpose today could change tomorrow, which is why life is so fascinating and exciting.

You’re a human being who changes and evolves. That’s the point of growth and why knowing your Core Values at any given time is so beautiful and important.

Next week, we’re going to talk about personal strengths and how they actually help us live that life in line with our values because it’s not always easy. 

Until next time,

Olena xx

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