How to Determine Your Core Values

Your important life assignment.

In a previous article ,I explained what values are and their importance.

Now, lets go over how to figure out your personal values.

Step One: Read the list of values I have included at the end of this document to familiarize yourself with possible values

This is only a list. There are more possible values. Search the internet for other lists if you need more options.

Step Two: Ask yourself the following Questions for Self-Reflection:

Please take your time with this and write your answers down in your journal.

1. What is most important to you in your work?

2. What is most important to you in your relationships?

3. What is most important to you in your social life?

4. What do you look for in a new friendship?

5. What do you look for in a new romantic relationship?

6. What do you look for in social activities/events to attend?

7. What do you want for your future long-term relationships?

8. What do you want from your life as a whole?

9. What are some of your favorite activities and why?

10. Describe a perfect day.

11. List 10 things that make you angry/drive you nuts. Then look at what is missing or being violated in that situation.

12. Write down some personal fantastic experiences in your life: What were some moments where you felt connected and joyful or full of meaning and significance. Consider these meaningful moments — peak experiences that stand out in your memories. What was happening to you? What was going on? What was being honored in your life?

13. Look at the way you live — your code of conduct. What unspoken rules do you follow?

14. What’s most important in your life? What must you have in your life to experience fulfillment? What are the personal values you must honor or a part of you shrivels up? Look at the list of possible values and see if any make you feel alive.

15. Look at the people you admire and see what common values keep popping up. These are values that are striking a chord within you. Write down the qualities of the people you admire.

16. Looking back at your life, what are things that you would take a stand for — even if it meant losing something or someone in the process. Write these things down in your journal.

17. Look at your greatest failures, disappointments and moments of depression and sadness. What happened? Was there some violation of something you believe important? What was violated?

As you answer these questions, look for commonalities that stick out.

Step Three: Make a list of these values. Try to narrow the list down to your top ten.

Step Four: Prioritize Your Top Ten Values:

This is done by doing comparisons between your top values. (This can also help you narrow down your list to the top ten.) And don’t be rigid here — you can make a list and prioritize it and then as you think about the list and live the list, some changes and tweaks will be made as you go along.

For example, say Creativity and Authenticity are two of your top core values. To determine a ranking ask yourself:

“Would I rather be creative or be authentic?” And choose. And do this with each value against the others. Keep comparing and asking for choices between your top values. The priority will become clear and you can make a prioritized list. I realize these are hard choices — but be tough — imagine that the choice HAS to be made.

Having your values listed in priority will help you as decisions come up that could possibly place one value over the other, for example you could be offered a very creative role in a company, yet have to dress and act in a manner that is very inauthentic. Knowing that authenticity ranks higher for you than creativity can help you realize that even though the job offers you the creative position you want, you would have to give up too much.

Remember: Even if some choice in your life could honor one of your values — if it dishonors another (especially one higher in your list of priorities) it still may not be the right choice for you.

Knowing your values AND their priority gives you clarity.

Step Five: Double Check if the values you choose resonate with you:

  1. How do they make you feel?
  2. Do you feel they are consistent with who you are?
  3. Are they personal to you?
  4. Do you see any values that feel inconsistent with your identity? (Are they actually someone else’s dream/plans for you, such as a parent, authority figure, friends, society, etc. and not yours?)
  5. Check your priority ranking. Do you feel like your values are in the proper order of importance?

Step Six: Now Start Using your core Values

1. Use them when making difficult decisions.
2. Use them to decide how you spend your free time.
3. Use them to guide you in how you live your life.
4. Use them to decide who you will spend time with. Etc.….

“People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them. The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about and what you value.” — Stephen R. Covey

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
― Gandhi

Sample List of Value words in random order:

Acceptance Creation Gratitude Accomplishment Creativity Greatness Performance Structure Accountability Credibility Accuracy Curiosity Happiness Playfulness Support Achievement Decisive Adaptability Decisiveness Harmony Potential Sustainability Alertness Dedication Altruism Dependability Honesty Ambition Determination Honor Productivity Temperance Amusement Development Hope Professionalism Thankful Assertiveness Devotion Attentive Awareness Discipline Improvement Quality Timeliness Balance Beauty Boldness Effectiveness Innovation Recognition Traditional Bravery Brilliance Empathy Insightful Reflective Transparency Calm Candor Endurance Integrity Responsibility Trustworthy Capable Careful Enjoyment Intensity Certainty Enthusiasm Intuitive Reverence Uniqueness Challenge Equality Irreverent Charity Cleanliness Excellence Clear Clever Exploration Knowledge Comfort Expressive Commitment Fairness Leadership Sensitivity Common-sense Family Communication Famous Community Fearless Compassion Feelings Competence Ferocious Concentration Fidelity Confidence Connection Foresight Meaning Consciousness Fortitude Moderation Skillfulness Consistency Freedom Motivation Contentment Friendship Openness Solitude Contribution Control Generosity Conviction Cooperation Giving Courage Goodness Courtesy Dignity Imagination Purpose Thoughtful Discovery Independence Realistic Tolerance Drive Efficiency Inquisitive Recreation Tranquility Empower Inspiring Energy Intelligence Restraint Ethical Experience Kindness Focus Fun Genius Organization Spontaneous Grace Growth Persistence Success Hard-work Health Humility Prosperity Thorough Individuality Reason Toughness Joy Justice Satisfaction Victory Lawful Learning Liberty Logic Love Loyalty Mastery Simplicity Maturity Optimism Order Originality Stability Passion Patience Stewardship Peace Poise Power Present Teamwork Respect Results-oriented Understanding Rigor Risk Security Self-reliance Vision Selfless Serenity Welcoming Service Sharing Significance Wonder Silence Sincerity Skill Smart Spirit Spirituality Status Strength Surprise Talent Trust Truth Unity Valor Vigor Vitality Wealth Winning Wisdom

Have fun with this assignment! It can change your life!



  1. Michelle, you have summarized this process very succinctly and I am taking on your challenge, My beliefs are changing, as they always have. This happens as I uncover truths. I’ve decided that i’m no longer the sum of my values, but expect them to evolve as my beliefs do.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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