How to Identify Your Core Values in 6 Easy Steps

Posted on April 28, 2020
 by Leslie Newman
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Core Values in the Making

We were two little girls, visiting our grandparents in the mountains of West Virginia. While we played in the yard, our little-girl chatter would echo back and forth between the two steep hillsides. At times we would stop to call out a name, a thought, a “Can you hear me?” 

Our words flew across the creek and flung themselves up against the mountainside. “Can you hear me?” never failed to echo back as we stood there, silent and still. We listened to our voices until they faded away to whispers and then were no more. Finding ourselves fascinated by the exchange, we’d start all over again. And the listening grew as we stood there anticipating a return in the stillness. 

Listening grows in the stillness. #listening #values #corevalues #lifecoaching Click To Tweet

In-Between

It’s like that today as I find myself standing in an odd in-between. A strange quiet envelopes me the same way it envelopes you, the same way it envelopes all of us. I'm feeling a little bewildered, a little taken aback.

In the stillness, a space has opened up before me. It’s found in the middle of a pandemic when life grinds down to a painful halt and I find myself waiting and wondering and peeking into places I hadn’t expected to explore.

But in the quiet, there’s something I hear in the background, something distracting. It’s the voices, all of them bouncing back and forth between the various outlets –  in the news, on social media, in emails, over the phone, in the video calls.

All these voices are speaking into the empty spaces that a life on hold has left unattended. They echo around in my mind bouncing around from place to place. They leave me asking myself,  “What am I supposed to be paying attention to?”

And it dawns on me as I remember the echos of childhood – listening grows in the stillness of a life on pause. As I stand here in the quiet, I realize I’m once again anticipating a return, a small revelation, a turning, or a shift. I’m unsure what it will be.

quiet pathway for listening to core values
Listening grows in the stillness of a life on pause. #listen #values #corevalues #lifecoaching Click To Tweet

The Voices

Life is different for all of us now - at least for the time being. Some of us are seeking to understand the present in the midst of drastic changes. We’re a little befuddled here in the middle of this pregnant pause. We find that we have pockets of time that were unavailable before.

We don’t know what to do with that. We’re distracted by all the voices we hear. We don’t know what to listen to, what to listen for.

Questions abound. So does the advice.

  • Slow down.
  • Speed up. 
  • Make changes. 
  • Stop and reflect.
  • Start a new hobby.
  • Rest and Relax.
  • Wait it out.
  • Go for it! 

Essentially, all of this boils down to how we spend our time. And how we spend our time works best when we know and understand our values. In the present stillness, we have an opportunity to hear more, to discern more, and to find something of real value returning to us.

Direction

If you are on this website, you may be struggling with being stretched too thin. Life is full – too full. Perhaps there is a tension there - frazzled frustration, exhaustion, or secret resentment.

Sometimes our busy lifestyles cause us to go against our core values. At the very least, when we are spread too thin we just don’t have enough time to pay attention. We feel the tension but never stop long enough to take a look at what is really going on underneath.

Values function like a compass. They give us direction. Our core values undergird everything – our relationships, our jobs, our spiritual lives, our choices. If we don’t know our values we don’t know how to respond to things that come our way. It’s too important of a thing to leave hanging in the balance. 

Perhaps you are on the edge of burnout, you're feeling stuck in a rut, or you are not sure about what direction to go. If you feel off track, consider taking a look at your values. Identifying your values and then aligning your life with those values frees you to live your life in a fuller, richer way.

In this unique time, we have an unprecedented opportunity to listen well as we stand in the stillness of a life on pause. What is it that you are hearing? 

In this unique time, we have an unprecedented opportunity to listen well as we stand in the stillness of a life on pause. What is it that you are hearing? #listen #values #corevalues #lifecoaching Click To Tweet

Core Values Toolkit

Woman using compass identifying core values

Most of us have three to five enduring core values. They may have been with us since childhood. Generally, these core values will continue to be our True North so to speak. Identifying them is important to help us stay on track, stay true to ourselves, and in a spiritual sense, true to the God who created us.

Today’s Toolkit combines the pause you may be experiencing during the unexpected with some reflections that will help you listen for your values. You will be creating a list so grab a piece of paper!

1. Think back to the qualities you had when you were a child between the ages of 6-12. Try to list 5-10 things. (Some examples are creative, loved nature, thoughtful, helped others, explorer.) These are key clues to some of your underlying core values. Childhood is the fresh beginning of how God made you. It’s a great place to start looking!

2. Think of a time in recent years when you felt you were living your best self. What were you doing that came naturally to you? The things might have been or are currently a part of your work life, home life, or recreational time. They are things that feel fulfilling - sometimes even things that you can’t not do. Look for the values underlying those activities and seasons of living your best self. Add them to your list.

3. Think about unusual circumstances (#Quarantine). Sometimes unique circumstances give us the opportunity to see things from a different perspective.  Add to your list the things you are doing during quarantine that you find value in. What are you enjoying? What is meaning the most to you during this time? What values do you see inside these things?

4. Ask three friends who know you well to name your values. Sometimes our values are more obvious to others than they are to us. Write down what you hear and ask questions to clarify if needed. What value words and phrases can you pull out of this to add to your list?

5. Now take your list and read over it. Do you see repeated words? What themes are you hearing in the words that you write or say? Look between the lines for the values underlying your thoughts, your ideas, the things that you are passionate about. Circle or highlight repeated themes or wording.

6. Rewrite your list taking out repeated phrases and placing the most important values toward the top. Now you have a better idea of your core values!

How do these words and phrases “echo” back to you as you think about them? What do you hear? What is the return that comes from identifying your values and turning the corner in a way that allows you to spend your time on the things you value most?

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely. 

Proverbs 10:9a NIV

I created a printable to go with this Toolkit project! I share these printables with my subscribers. New subscribers will receive a welcome newsletter with a link to my Resource Page where you can find this printable. You’ll also receive The Exhausted Woman’s Tool Kit! 

Subscribe to the Time-Keepers Monthly Newsletter. Receive The Exhausted Woman’s Toolkit in your first edition! Click below. 👇🏻

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8 comments on “How to Identify Your Core Values in 6 Easy Steps”

  1. Values function like a compass. They give us direction.
    That is so true and really underlines why we need to take the time to discover our core values.
    This is a very practical and actionable post.

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