Updated: May 10
Core values is a term bandied about in a personal and business manner without much thought given to what they are.
Core values may not be what you think. Typically, Personal core values in a workshop session are offered to you on a list to choose from and narrow down to a core of 5-6.
The problem with this method, (don’t believe me, see for yourself), is that we typically choose the words on the page that we would like to be, or like others to see us as or that we aspire to be. Examples on such a list might be – family, health, financial security, adventure, loyalty, honesty.
I would like to suggest that Core values are not chosen, they are part of who you are. Core values are more about the feeling you get from doing everyday behaviours in your life. The feeling you seek from undertaking tasks. The feeling you get from hanging out with family. The feeling you get from having good health. The feeling you want from financial security. The feeling you get from having adventures.
Feelings cannot be identified from logic and headspace. Core values come from the heart space and require quiet reflective time to dive deep into the feeling you are seeking from doing what you do.
For example Sarah has the following personal Core Values: Freedom, Connection, Compassion, Achievement, Growth.
These show up in her everyday behaviour. They are her motivators, her decision makers and when someone violates one of her core values, she finds herself reacting.
Sarah is drawn to feeling a sense of freedom in her work, so she owns her own business where she gets to decide when and what she works at. Freedom shows up in her leisure time where she spends much of it in the outdoors. Sarah left a relationship due to the lack of freedom she felt on a regular basis. (conflict/challenge of personal value)
Sarah is drawn to have deep relationships with friends and business associates and is happiest when she is connecting with others. The feeling of connection is an important part of everything she does.
Sarah works in the health industry because she feels compassion for others’ experiencing life challenges and knows she can listen deeply and be there for them. Sarah finds herself drawn to people who need a listening ear in her social life, because she feels compassionate. When Sarah sees a fellow human being unkind, it makes her angry and reactive. She recognizes now, that she behaves like this because her personal value of compassion is being challenged.
Sarah is a high achiever; she loves getting stuff done and ticking items off her list. It gives her a feeling of achievement, no matter how small. Both small and larger achievements keep Sarah motivated in everyday life. She goes to bed knowing she has had outcomes.
Sarah is a lifelong learner. She always has her head in a book and loves to attend workshops, seminars. She as a long list of qualifications behind her name in a variety of modalities. When Sarah learns she feels like she grows and achieves and can provide more compassion and understanding with people she connects with in her life.
Core values are unique to every individual. While a name is given to the feeling each individual seeks, it is not a dictionary definition, and the label has limitations to describing the feelings that One is drawn to experiencing on a regular basis.
Because core values are feelings, they unlikely change overtime, rather the life situation changes and the same feelings are sought in different settings, tasks, and stages of life as One moves through them.
When Ones core values are present, life is fulfilling and consequently when they are missing, life feels “off”, even though you might not be able to put your finger on exactly what is wrong.
Consciously knowing your personal core values means you can consciously seek to get more of them in your life in everyday tasks and extend the scope of how you can experience those feelings more often.
The other benefit of knowing your personal core values means that you can be responsive to a situation rather than reactive. Reactions occur usually when you do not understand why someone is doing or saying something that you don’t agree with. When you know why you are feeling discomfort, its easier to realise that it is your core values alarm going off and that the other person probably doesn’t realise that something about this is important to you.
It is also easier to understand that others’ do and say things because of what is important to them (their personal core values), and that is ok. Again, this understanding can take the heat out of a situation. Simply asking someone, “what is important to you about this”, can bring forth the feeling that they are wanting to experience, and a solution may then be more obvious.
Core values drive our decisions and here is a clear example.
Two doctors have success and connection in their core value list, however Dr A lists Success as most important and Dr B lists Connection as most important. Their boss rings on a Friday night and asks both independently if they can work at short notice on Saturday.
Both Dr’s coincidently have a family member with a birthday on Saturday. Dr A says yes to the boss and tells their family member that they will have a special outing on Sunday to celebrate their birthday. Dr B says no to the boss because of the pre-arranged family birthday but is really happy to come in on Sunday. Same core personal values, but ranked differently by each doctor, resulting in different decisions based on the importance they place on them. Not right or wrong. This provides huge understanding as to why we do what we do.
So, what are your personal values? What feelings are you drawn to experiencing on a regular basis? What situations do you experience conflict and what’s important to you about this that is being challenged? What feelings are important to you in making big decisions? When you feel motivated to undertake a task, look for the underlying feeling. The more aware you are of the feelings you seek; you will notice themes show up. These will be your personal values.
Mind & Body
Wellbeing Coach 9.5.22