Why do people have different feelings about what is important and what isn’t? Why are there so many different views as to what is fair and what is unfair? Why do we favor one political party over the other? Why do some of us feel it is paramount to help the poor, while others say it is crucial to save the planet, while yet others campaign to save the animals?
One of the reasons is because of core values. We all have them and ours are different from others. Core values are the lens through which we view life—every event and every person. They are the filter we use to process information. For the most part, we express these values unconsciously and yet they are evident in what we say and do. They are not our character or personality traits, rather our beliefs. And when we are called upon to do something that goes against our core value, it troubles us and drains us of energy.
I’ve found most people cannot readily identify their core value. I spoke with one young man who worked for a company that manufactured toys. He chaffed over the pollution of plastics in landfills as well as the danger these toys presented to children’s minds and self-worth. After chatting a while, I realized his core value was ethics and he was going against his. A couple of years later he quit this company and now is at peace.
Identifying our core values is a good thing because it will help us make better choices. It will also help us realize why we do, think, and act in certain ways. There are plenty of tests on the Internet to help us. However, I simply asked myself the following four questions:
- What do I find myself doing without thinking about it?
- What can I simply not stop doing?
- What makes me ‘pound the table’, in other words, what gets my ire up and tempts me to try and set things straight?
- What values do I want to pass on to my children and grandchildren?
For now, my core values are communication, gratitude, and inspiration. The reason I wrote ‘for now’ is because these values might evolve over time in response to my life-experiences.
Start the new year out right by identifying your core values. It has really helped me focus and is vital in decision making. There are so many things in life demanding our attention and energy. Focusing on our values will keep us centered and more effective. Had the young man I wrote of earlier known the reason for his unrest was due to a job that went against his core value, he may have changed jobs sooner.
As I mentioned earlier, there are several tests on the internet. Or you might ask yourselves the four questions I asked myself. Another procedure is to look at a list of core values and highlight all the ones that resonate with you. Then write down the highlighted word and go through the new list, ranking them from most important to the least. Choose the top three and you will probably have it right. Finally, another way is to have someone else describe you. Oftentimes others have a more unbiased assessment.
When you have determined your core values, I’d like to hear about them and how you came to discover them. May 2016 be your best year yet!