The Importance of Knowing Your Core Values

A key component in our personal development and wellbeing is increasing self-awareness around our core values. When talking about values, we’re talking about what’s most important to us in life and this will be different for everyone. In fact, it will be different for each of us at different stages in our lives as our priorities, situation and relationships shift and evolve.

When was the last time you thought about your values?

I wonder, when was the last time you really thought about your values. If I asked you, “what are your top five values?” could you answer me? If you couldn’t, that would actually be quite standard and I also think quite fair.  After all, we’ve got a lot going on. Yet, knowing our values and importantly, ensuring our actions are aligned with our values is an important element of wellbeing.

When we’re out of alignment

Have you ever noticed how you feel when a situation, or someone’s behaviour (maybe even your own) doesn’t match with your values? You may feel out of alignment, or like things aren’t quite right. You may even feel anxious, angry, or you may feel conflicted. You may notice these feelings reflected in your thoughts, or even in your body. Notice, where does this sit for you?

Generally, a misalignment in values and actions doesn’t bring out the best in us. Notice what happens to your communication skills and coping skills. Generally, they take a step backwards.

In contrast, when our values and actions are aligned, this can light us up and give us energy. We may feel a greater sense of wellbeing and purpose.

How do you tap into your values and ensure they’re aligned with your actions?

Step 1: Identify your core values 
There are many exercises available to help you tap into your core values. I often use one based on a tool produced by The Coaching Tools Company. You can download their tool here.

Step 2: Understand how these values show up in your life
Think about:

  • How you express your values
  • Which of your behaviours are consistent with your values?
  • Which aren’t?
  • What you would say if someone said “How do you demonstrate [insert value here] in your life?” or “How do other people demonstrate [insert value here]?”

The same value can show up differently for different people

We don’t all demonstrate our values in the same way. The same value can show up quite differently for different people. For instance, let’s take the value ‘creativity’. For one person, this may show up in an artistic sense, for someone else it may be around ways of thinking or their approach, and for yet others, it may be more to do with innovation. It’s therefore important to understand how your values shows up in your life, your actions and behaviours.

Step 3: If necessary, adjust your behaviour to ensure your values and behaviours are aligned.
If you feel out of alignment, think about what behaviours and actions you could change and what the impact would be on you. Use your values as a guide for your behaviours.

A couple of points worth noting:

  • Your core values can change over time. They are not fixed.
  • Your non-core values are also important – not having a value in your top 5 doesn’t mean it isn’t important to you. It just may not be a ‘must honour’ value.

If you would like some support to help you gain clarity on what your core values are, how understanding your values can guide your personal and professional development, and the impact of aligning your values and actions on your wellbeing, please give me a call.

Warmest regards,

Laurenne Di Salvo