Core Values

Core Values…what are they?

I was recently asked to complete an exercise where the first part was to define my core values. It was work-related, so I focused on core values relating to my work. It took me a while, but I finally wrote down my responses. I knew there were no right and wrong answers, but I wasn’t quite satisfied. A few weeks later, I was thinking about completing the same exercise for my own personal life. I had a really hard time defining these core values. I was disturbed by this. Am I a bad person? Why am I struggling with this simple task? Is it simple? Do others struggle with this?


I looked up some articles on defining core values and it helped me to understand how to think about them in relation to my everyday life. A description that helped me went a little like this: Your core values are like the stars in your sky. You can look to them for guidance no matter where you are. What steers your ship?

Okay, now we were getting somewhere…

I sat in front of my computer for a while, trying to redo this exercise and figure out “the stars in my sky”. I still felt like a terrible, soul-less person. star-less person. But then I began to type. I began to write about concepts that make me who I am. I was describing my core values, I was just having trouble thinking of a single word to go along with them. Maybe I do have stars in my sky after all!

I found this exercise to be motivating and very thought-provoking. As children we are (hopefully) taught about values and they become instilled in us by our parents and other significant people in our lives. As adults we can choose to continue with those same values and live our lives by them or toss them out the window for different ones that fit with our adult selves.

This is what I came up with for myself:

  1. Drive. I always feel a need to be better, whether it’s in my job or my personal life; I always want to continue to journey of being better than I am.
  2. Integrity. Always striving to do what’s right, even when it’s hard. Living the life that aligns with your values. This can be HARD!
  3. Education & Learning. Always continuing to learn and become more knowledgeable.
  4. Fun. Remembering to have fun and life; taking time to laugh and enjoy.
  5. Family. These are the people that you spend time with. They are there for you no matter what.

I would challenge you to take on this exercise. Make this list. It may evolve over time. Sit down and really think about how you operate. What are the stars that guide you through everyday life? How do you make decisions? How do you handle tough situations?