Defining Your Core Values

Companies traditionally define their core values, mission and vision statements that influence their decisions and client relationships, but individuals also benefit greatly by identifying their own personal core values.

Your core values are a series of words or phrases defining who you are and what you stand for. They represent the internal navigation system for your life and the filter through which you process all of life’s decisions. They are the values you would fight for and the attributes you hope others say about you in your absence or after your death. They become key elements of your personal brand and define your character.

Think of the last time you did something that you knew deep down inside was wrong. How did you feel? That feeling was a result of your actions being inconsistent with one of your core values. Psychologists tell us that nothing creates internal stress and guilt more than when our actions are incongruent with our values.

If you will take the time to establish and live by a set of core values congruent with the context of this lesson, you will make better decisions, enjoy healthier relationships, be happier, and enjoy a more peaceful and satisfying life.

Your core values can be single words or short phrases such as:

  • Accountability
  • Authenticity
  • Coachable
  • Communication
  • Consideration
  • Creativity
  • Discipline
  • Encourager
  • Excellence
  • Fairness
  • Faithfulness
  • Family
  • Friendliness
  • Fun
  • Goal-oriented
  • Gratitude
  • Health
  • Humility
  • Integrity
  • Loyalty
  • Leadership
  • Open-mindedness
  • Optimism
  • Productivity
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Self-control
  • Stewardship
  • Unselfishness
  • Wisdom
  • Win-win attitude

In the most basic sense, core values are the characteristics, traits and qualities in which you place a high value. They form the foundation on which you conduct yourself each day. They shape your personality and distinguish you from everyone else.

I have a document titled, “Todd Smith’s Brand.”  This document clearly articulates my vision, mission, purpose, core values, and other characteristics that describe who I am and what I like.

By defining these things, along with my personal and professional goals, I know what I stand for, what I want, where I want to take my life, and how I want to be viewed by the world.  As a result, I am able to quickly make wise choices.

I want to challenge you to take 30 minutes of quiet time to sit down and put into writing the words or phrases that define your core values. This list can include the things that describe your values today and the person you want to become tomorrow.

If you have previously established a set of core values for your life, would you please take a couple minutes to share the impact your core values have had on your life in the comments sections below this post?

Your core values give direction to the words you speak, the actions you perform, and the path you walk each day.

About the Author: Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 30 years and founder of Little Things Matter. To receive Todd’s lessons, subscribe here. All Todd’s lessons are also available on iTunes as downloadable podcasts. (Todd’s podcasts are listed #27 in America’s top 100 podcasts.)

Related Posts:

Our Lives are a Mirror Image of the Little Decisions we Make

How to Make Critical Decisions

What’s Your Brand?

Who Do I Have To Become To Get What I Want?

12 Attributes, Values and Skills of a 360-degree Leader

The Most Important of All Human Qualities

What Will Be Your Legacy?

Living Beyond Ourselves

Being Honest With Ourselves

What’s in Your Rulebook?

What Distinguishes You?

Responsibility Reflects Character

Building Trust Through Confidentiality

Your Words Reflect Your Character

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  • Robert Z. Hicks for Janelle

    Janelle: In your post you write, "permanently disabling illness". I just met a doctor who is treating many "incurable" neurological diseases with adult stem cells from that person.
    I don't know what your circumstance is, but this doctor gave me a lot of hope for better days ahead. I'm still learning there are more things to be "healthy".

    Go to:

  • To Janelle Helling:

    I like "coincidences"! I've never read comments before following Todd's bloggs...but I feel prompted to write to you, and hope you check in again. My life was significantly changed at age 15 by a life-threatening disabling illness that was 90% paralyzing. Now I am "old" :-) and spend a lot of time staying functional...but I am very "healthy"! Looking back, I can see how God ordered my life to prepare me for a very important purpose which I probably would have missed had I been "well" enough to do the physical career I had planned.

    Once in a while I wonder what my life would have been if I could still play my horn, or paddle a canoe or go hiking, but my life has been blessed and rich as is. The important thing is a core value of PURPOSE. Do what is necessary to be functional, focus on what you CAN do, not what you can't. Work on your strengths, and find the purpose God has for you.

  • Hi Robert,

    I love your attitude and outlook.

    Thanks for sharing!


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