What Are Core Values and Why Are They Important

We all have moral compasses guiding us through our minor and major life decisions. We can think of core values as the cogwheels of the moral compass that lies in our minds. These values direct our behaviour, action, and sense of meaning and worth in what we do and observe in life. 

In this article, we’ll discuss all there’s to know about core values, from their importance to how to discover and reevaluate them. So, without further ado, let’s jump in!

What Are Core Values?

Core values are essential beliefs you live your life by. They’re the bedrock of living in harmony with yourself and those around you. Additionally, having core values helps you evaluate your intentions, actions, and all the things interacting with you. We all determine our worth based on an internal compass that’s made up of core values. 

Also, core values are the roots that guide and inspire us when things get tough. Throughout your journeys, they’re what you carry to make the right ethical choice and help you be the most authentic, balanced version of yourself.

An average person would have about 10 to 15 core values. Whether intrinsic or chosen, exploring these values is essential for better awareness and connection with yourself.

Intrinsic vs. Chosen Core Values

Some values are intrinsic, and some are chosen. When you choose your core values, you do so out of necessity; to make life easier for you and those around you. However, intrinsic values weren’t influenced by our choices but rather developed during our childhood. 

Intrinsic core values determine our beliefs and perspectives, and they’re based on:

  • Attachment style
  • Environment while growing up
  • Religion
  • Culture
  • Memorable life experiences

However, when it comes to chosen values, they depend on:

  • Current attachment style
  • Current environment
  • Responsibilities

Why Are Core Values Important?

Knowing your core values is important for knowing your compatibility. They help you decide stuff such as:

  • Should I accept a promotion or look for better options?
  • Is it time for a career shift?
  • Is my current partner the one?
  • Should I stand by my position or compromise?
  • What habits to let go of and what habits to introduce and keep?
  • Am I ready for kids?

Additionally, when life puts you in tough situations, that’s when things become distorted and confusing. And here, the importance of knowing your values is emphasized. They can help you locate the problems in your life and draw you on the path to deal with them.

So this means that core values make life easier.

How Can Core Values Make Life Easier?

As the renowned inventor Edward de Bono said: “Effectiveness without values is a tool without a purpose,” and so is a person. Core values make life easier by the following: 

  • Improved Decision-Making: If we compare the human mind to a building, core values would be the foundation. Discovering your values can save you a lot of indecision and frustration.
  • Pinpointing Your Problems: Knowing your values will help you identify what and who you misalign with. As a result, it’ll be easier to find a solution to your problems, so you’ll adjust more quickly and smoothly.
  • Helps You Grow: Identifying your core values requires a certain level of self-reflection and awareness. Moreover, reaching this level of intrapersonal intelligence will only help you grow and improve.
  • Help You Find a Compatible Path: Whether it’s a job, lifestyle, or a partner, knowing your core values will aid you in choosing those who make you feel full and happy.

Core Values in Developing Children

We begin developing our core values at only three months old. Children develop their core values gradually, with each phase of their childhood strengthening them. From three months old till six years old, the main values a child learns are care, respect, harmony, integrity, responsibility, and resilience. 

As mentioned before, there are intrinsic and chosen core values. The intrinsic ones result from the input the children receive from their caregiver, while the chosen ones are often reactions to their environments as they grow older. Either can be right or wrong. 

Teaching children good values is essential to help guide them against the harmful influences they would inevitably experience. It also decreases the chances of them developing mental illnesses when faced with extreme hardships as adults. It’s a never-ending task to take care of new generations in our ever-changing world of influence.

For example, children who developed compassion as a core value are more likely to have healthy relationships and friendships than children who were forced to prioritise self-preservation; the latter will be more likely to experience anti-social tendencies. 

Children’s core values would later help them choose their own values and principles when they set out independently.


Values vs. Principles

A common misunderstanding would be confusing principles with values, regarding them as mere synonyms. However, they’re not the same. 

Principles are based on values. If core values are the pillars of a foundation, principles are the columns that spring from them, creating the structure and rules within which life decisions, actions, and behaviours are governed.

While values can change as we grow and develop a wider palette of experiences, principles aren’t yielding. Instead, they’re what form habits and can be a bit harder to change. 

Personal Core Values List

Personal core values are the ones we start developing when we’re only three months and keep developing as adults. It’s important to know that it’s normal for one’s values to intensify as we grow older and change as our priorities change, too.

For example, the older we get, we find ourselves craving family time more than we did in our ambitious youth. So, naturally, our values would change to fit our needs.

This is why it’s best to keep in touch with your values and keep them simple and direct, so they’d develop to fit your lifestyle as you grow. 

Below, you’ll find 50 examples of core values in the following core values list.

  1. Moderation
  2. Humility
  3. Balance
  4. Acceptance
  5. Adaptability
  6. Compassion
  7. Discipline
  8. Gratitude
  9. Fitness
  10. Compliance
  11. Inner Peace
  12. Community
  13. Growth
  14. Happiness
  15. Risk-Taking
  16. Passion
  17. Patience
  18. Independence
  19. Freedom
  20. Confidence
  21. Education
  22. Punctuality
  23. Family
  24. Creativity
  25. Consistency
  26. Humor
  27. Resilience
  28. Diversity
  29. Faith
  30. Religion
  31. Imagination
  32. Justice
  33. Tradition
  34. Versatility
  35. Professionalism
  36. Bravery
  37. Wealth
  38. Talent
  39. Calmness
  40. Tolerance
  41. Grace
  42. Recognition
  43. Reputation
  44. Optimism
  45. Openness
  46. Popularity
  47. Stability
  48. Success
  49. Authority
  50. Love

Discovering Your Core Values

We all have different core values, and if you don’t know your list, you have to start working on it to have a healthy, successful life. 

“The unexamined life isn’t worth living,” said the famous Socrates. And to examine your life, you need to practice self-reflection, which is essential to discover and pinpoint your core values.

Self-reflection is the act of exploring your insides and having an in-depth look at your thoughts, actions, desires, and motivations. You’ll not only examine, but you need to ask, “Why are these my thoughts, desires, actions, and motivations?” What’s behind them?

You can also remember the happiest moments of your life. What moves the positive feelings inside you? Then, think about the other side; what makes you feel angry, sad, and frustrated? 

These are all examples that can help you know yourself better and consequently know your core values. Simply put, your core values are the answers to the questions during self-reflection.

It’s important to note that journaling may help in this step. It’s effective to write your thoughts down during your self-reflection journey.

Also, reading the personal core values list helps make the process easier. While reading, monitor yourself and see which values hit you the most. 

Now, arrange all core values from the most important to the least important. This ranking tells you a lot about the values that are prominent and others that aren’t of extreme importance to you. 

Keep in mind that this list is always changeable; you can revisit your values any time you wish. In addition, self-development is a never-ending process, so don’t feel pressured to reopen your list to monitor, rate, and reevaluate it.


How Do You Know If You Need to Reevaluate Your Core Values?

Say you found out your values or already know them by heart. Do you think they’re permanent? The answer is no. 

As mentioned before, a lot of our core values were inherent and developed when we were mere toddlers. However, some of these values might have been developed in an unhealthy environment, creating unripe core values that’ll need to be reexamined later in life.

Also, embracing and rediscovering new values can help you make decisions and be on the hunt for ideals that reflect your identity.

But how do you know if you need such a reevaluation? Some signs of unhealthy core values are great indecisiveness and discomfort when faced with ultimatums. 

Facing a great change in life can also be one of the reasons you feel you need to adapt to another set of values. For instance, moving out to find another job in a more diverse city might influence you to push adaptability and acceptance up your list to find genuine connections and friendships.

Choosing to have a family is also one of the most common situations where a thorough reexamination of one’s own ideals is a must. It’s a difficult process, but one sure thing is that it guarantees a much easier transition.

Core Values in Business

It’s no surprise that the current landscape of company culture is shaped by the set of core values it embraces. In simple terms, corporate core values reflect a company’s identity.

They’re the cogwheels running in the background of any successful company, organizing and empowering the team of employees within it.

Let’s have a look at the benefits a company would reap when having corporate core values:

  • Motivate and Inspire Employees. Core values in corporate life help employees to stand by a certain set of ethics that’s compatible with them. This easily creates a workplace with a strong sense of comradery and unity.
  • Employees Understand Their Priorities. With core values, employees do know what to put first. For example, if one of the company’s core values is to be mindful of the environment, the employees would create the required products using degradable or recyclable materials.
  • Attract Clients. By having clear core values, clients will be attracted to companies with the same beliefs as them. Recent research mentioned that about 63 percent of consumers claimed to buy products from companies that reflect their beliefs and have a strong sense of identity.
  • Easier Recruitment. Future employees who share the same set of values can be easily found. Clearly stating your company’s values would aid potential employees to learn more about the company and decide whether or not it’s compatible with them during their job hunt. 

Last Words

As you can see, discovering and choosing your core values create a robust sense of identity. Not to mention, they create a better, healthier lifestyle, whether it’s personal or related to business. 

However, it’s of dire importance to understand that a great deal of it is created as children. And so, being aware of that part in ourselves is essential for us to claim control over decisions and beliefs. 

Whether you’re redefining your values, working in a company with certain ones, or raising a child, it’s important to regularly demonstrate and stand by your core values. After all, actions do speak louder than words.

Keep in mind that you need to choose your own values and beliefs before others choose them for you.

Also, don’t forget that growth is a continuous journey, so you’ll regularly adapt your core values as life goes on. 

Enjoy the process of self-discovery!

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