What are core values? If the first answer that comes to mind is aligned with a company you work for or have worked for in the past, you're not alone. Company core values come up often, with organizations throwing out words like "integrity," "teamwork," "honesty," "fairness," "diversity" and more that align with the company's mission.
But when was the last time you stopped to think about your own core values? If you're drawing a blank, don't worry—this is perfectly normal. But spending some time identifying exactly what your core values are can lead to tremendous personal growth and help you live a life that truly aligns with who you are.
You can think of core values as the foundation of a new home. You may have tons of ideas for the garden you want to plant, the way you want to decorate your bedroom, or the family you want to grow there. But if the foundation isn't in place, it will be hard to thrive in that home, and eventually the house will collapse.
If you're realizing just how important identifying your core values really is by this point, great—we're here to help you get started on that journey. Here's everything you need to know about exactly what core values are, and some examples to think about.
What Are Core Values?
We've already touched a bit on what core values are, but let's get more in-depth. Core values are qualities or traits that represent a person's beliefs, priorities, and what drives them.
Core values are often things that live very, very deeply within us; they're beliefs and values that we've held since we were little kids and passions we formed in our early years.
It is worth noting, however, that core values can change over time. A lot of parents have experience with this shift: Maybe in your 20s achievement, professional development, and creativity were the most important core values for you. While it's unlikely that those things will ever stop being important to you and will probably always be somewhere on your core values list, when you become a parent. priorities change. Suddenly, things like family relationships, economic wellbeing, security, and home may float to the top of the list for you.
Sometimes in reflecting on core values, we realize that there are certain ideas that were instilled in us as kids are no longer serving us, or no longer fit with the person we are today. That's exactly why spending time reflecting on your core values is so important.
It's normal for core values to shift, at least a little bit, over time.
Core Values List
Having a hard time identifying your core values? Here's a list of 10 examples, with short descriptions of each:
- Competence: Being good at what you do, capable, and effective.
- Rationality: Consistent, logical, clear reasoning; unemotional
- Personal Growth: Continual learning, self-awareness, development of new capabilities
- Intimacy: Deep emotional and spiritual connection
- Creativity: Finding new ways to do things; innovative
- Environment: Respecting the future of the earth
- Honesty: Sincerity and truthfulness
- Professional development: Advancing my career, getting ahead
- Tolerance: Being respectful of others
- Friendship: Close companionship, ongoing relationships
How Identifying Your Core Values Can Help You Live Your Best Life
Core values have tiers: There are some that will be the most important to you, while others will rank as very important, somewhat important, and the last important. Once you've finished ranking them, that's a great first step to living a life that's aligned with your core values. For example, if you identify that professional growth is extremely important to you, that may be all you need to get better at turning off the TV and getting a good night's sleep so you can show up fully prepared and creative at work the next day.
Interested in going more in-depth with your core values, and understanding how you can apply them to your life? There's a lot more to explore here, so check out our Core Values Workshop with Silk + Sonder Founder and CEO Meha Agrawal.