How to Discover Your Core Values

Businesses and corporations promote their core values all the time to make sure they stay focused and driven. But did you know that establishing your own core values can empower your personal life in much the same way? In fact, a well-defined set of core values is crucial for finding meaning and purpose in your life.

How? For one, knowing what you value above all else can help you navigate some of life’s most difficult decisions. When things get tough and confusing, siding with your core values allows you to stay true to yourself and your most deeply held beliefs.

Those beliefs aren’t random. Many of our core values are imparted from our parents, teachers, friends and social circles—and most of us tend to have a vague idea of what they are. It can be enormously beneficial (and insightful) to clearly define those values for yourself. So, let’s figure out what your core values are!

How to Write Core Values

Leadership Concepts

1. Find a good list of core values.

This list from Carnegie Mellon University is a good start. If you choose another list, know that the list should be pretty long and should contain mostly single words that could define an important aspect of a person’s belief system. (See the icons in the image below for examples.) Print out the list, so you can circle and scratch things out.

2. Whittle the list down as much as you can.

Circle the words that you are most instinctively drawn to and scratch out the rest. You’ll probably get it down to a couple dozen words.

3. Group your choices into similar categories.

Rewrite your remaining words in similar clusters on the back of the sheet by noticing those that fall along the same themes and consolidating them into group. For example, perhaps exercise and healthy eating could both fall under the greater category of “wellness”. Reorganize and tighten the list as much as you can. Choose one word to title each group (the word you are most drawn to in each of the clusters).

4. Distill these titles down to your five core values.

If you have more than five groups, try see if you can cut them down to your most important five. These five words are what define your most authentic beliefs and actions!

5. Observe your life.

Now that you’ve defined your values, be mindful of the decisions and choices you make.

Core Values Line Icon Set

Once you figure out your core values, what should you do with them?

Besides simply being mindful of them, they can serve to help you keep track of your goals and personal development.

James Clear, self-improvement author and entrepreneur, recommends conducting a yearly Integrity Report. It’s a great way to check in on yourself and find out if you’re being true to your values. It helps you to clearly set a higher standard for yourself the following year. It’s also a smart way to touch base with your core values, as your values will shift over time as your goals change. These annual check-ins can help you keep track of any goal or desire shifts that my be worth reassessing.

What are your five core values? Find out, and share them with the community in the comments section below! 

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Lara A
Lara A3 days ago


Jeanette B
Jeanette B22 days ago

Interesting :)

Chad Anderson
Chad A1 months ago

Very nice.

Chad Anderson
Chad A1 months ago

Thank you.

Gino C
Gino C1 months ago

thank you

Mike R
Mike R1 months ago


Ganaisha Calvin
Ganaisha Calvin1 months ago

It's important not to protect your values on other people

William T
William T2 months ago


Anna R
Anna R2 months ago

Thanks for posting

Thomas M
Thomas M2 months ago

Thank you