One of the most powerful ways we can find more fulfillment and energy is to clarify and live our core values. Work is far more joyful when we can express our values through it. Family life is more replenishing for us when we express our values in how we craft time and experiences with our family members. Free time becomes more meaningful when we find ways to honor our values in how we spend it. And, our values are also — surprisingly — a kind of remarkable compass that can guide us past inhibiting fears and self-doubts.
What are core values? In our conventional thinking, we view values as the moral “shoulds” passed on to us by the culture, or by people or institutions that affect our lives.
Here, we approach values differently. Values are the qualities or energies that matter most to us. Perhaps you value collaboration, honesty and playfulness most dearly. Or maybe for you, core values are authenticity, creativity and love.
Each person’s list of core values is different. It’s a reflection of their unique soul, of what brings them joy and a sense of being in your “home zone.”
When our life is aligned with our values, we feel expressed, at ease, and well. When our life is out of alignment with our values, we tend to feel unexpressed, stressed and unwell.
And while external circumstances can of course impact our ability to actualize our values, we also can all make changes in our lives in order to more fully honor and live our values.
In the video + journaling exercise below, I’ll guide you through a short exercise to:
- discover your unique set of core values
- identify ways to live out your values more fully
Get started with this video here:
You can listen to this exercise in audio, too. Press play below or download as an MP3 here.
(use the video above to guide you through these)
- What is one peak experience in your life? A time when you felt fully expressed, energized, like you were connected to the real you? (It’s okay to go way back in time, and it’s okay to draw from work or other life experiences.)
- What values of yours were being expressed or honored through that experience?
- Think of a second peak experience, and repeat questions 1 and 2 above, for that experience.
- From your writing above, note three to five of your core values.
- Now assess, how fully am I living each of these values now? (You can think about this in prose, or give it a rating on a scale of 0-10, with 0 meaning that value is being completely ignored or run over, and 10 being that the value is being fully and boldly expressed in your life.)
- In our pandemic time, you may also want to reflect on: because of the current circumstances, what has changed about my usual ways of honoring my values? What new ways of living my values could I put into place instead?
- What opportunities are there, within these current circumstances, to live my values more boldly or with even greater depth and meaning?
photo by: Aaron Burden