I love to talk about and work from core values in my coaching because so much of what we do in life is (and should be) based on our personal core values, such as the action steps that we take, decisions that we make, and how we react to certain situations.
Our beliefs, values, and ideas make up the foundation that we should be living mentally healthy lives by.
Identity vs. Core Values
You might be wondering what is the difference between identity and core values.
Identity is our qualities, beliefs, personality, and the overall mission that we follow in life (such as a Christian identity in Christ). Identity is also how we see ourselves.
Our core values are what we live life by. Our values reflect the things that matter most to us.
Why Core Values Matter
When we are aligned with our core values, we live our lives with clarity and direction.
When we are unsure of our core values we live our lives feeling as if something is just not right. In life situations, misaligned core values cause us to feel confused like something is missing, and this tends to bring on feelings of stress and unhappiness.
When we do not know our core values, or when we are not aligned with them, we may not live our lives with healthy mental boundaries. We end up with all sorts of mental discomfort because we allow circumstances in our lives that are not healthy for us, and this often happens before we are aware.
Guard Your Affections
“Above all else, guard your affections, for they influence everything else in your life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
Let’s talk about affections. Affections are the things that you care about deeply (from your heart). Affections are the things that you love and you guard with your life.
Affections are not personal property or material things.
This verse speaks to me that we must make sure that we are being led by the values that we hold in our hearts.
We can feel many things in our hearts. We can feel discontent, for example, and this may lead us to think, Whoa, wait a minute, this isn’t like me! Or, you might take notice, There’s something wrong with this picture.
We should base our foundation of how we live our lives, as well as our emotional health, on our core values. Every choice that we make in life should be based on our values.
When we look at Proverbs 4:23 again, we can also say that it teaches us to be true to ourselves—be true to our core values, and especially be true to who we are in Christ Jesus.
Discover Your Core Values
Coaching (question asking) is a wonderful tool for learning about ourselves, and for determining if we are (or are not) aligned with our core values. The number of questions that we can dive into is limitless, but today we are covering just a few. (Stay tuned for future PDF worksheets that you can subscribe to.)
If you consider yourself a Christian, answer the additional portions of the questions that reference God or Christ, etc. If you are not a Christian, no problem, you can skip that part of the questions, or answer the questions based on the higher power that you believe in or pray to.
- I want you to list the top things in your life that you would never stop doing regardless of what someone else says or believes. For example, if you love the Lord Jesus Christ, you may be dedicated to never stop growing for him, and you may believe that nobody can stand in the way of your faith. Additional examples: You might be devoted to life-long learning. You may be highly focused and dedicated to personal and professional development. These are the things that you will not give up to anyone or anything.
- Think about the past 20 years and list 5 to 10 characteristics of you when you were at your best…when you were living your best self out of your values. You weren’t feeling any confusion, discontent, or stress at this time. You may not have been living the same core values that you do today, but you were aligned with your values and this brought peace and a sense of personal soundness into your life. For example, you have been fully devoted to a ministry, to putting God first in your life, to a business that served people, or to a consistent balance between life and work or a business.
- List the top 10 values that you believe are required to lead a successful and full life. Write this as though you are leading future generations. Remember, success is subjective. What you value as success does not need to match what someone else considers a success (no need to mirror or compare here).
- Do you see any similarities in your answers so far? You may have pinpointed your core values already. We can learn a lot about ourselves at this point!
- What do you value? Try to choose at least 5 things that you value. You may value something that you do not see on this list, so go ahead and write it down! (The list of core values is included at the bottom of this blog.)
- Return to the values that you selected in step 5. Determine your top 5 values and list them. These are your core values. Are you still seeing similarities in your responses in this exercise? Most of us do, and this is so freeing (to know our core values). It helps us reaffirm who we are in our lives (or who we are in Christ Jesus).
As you answer the following questions, you should be able to literally use your list of core values as your guide. When you are aligned with your core values, your life focus hones right into place.
Would your friends or family members be able to guess what y our top values are based on your lifestyle? Do they reflect a Jesus-led life?
When you look at your daily or weekly activities, how do they reflect on your values? What changes can you make to align with your core values?
What do you want to achieve today to align with your core values? What do you want to achieve in the future (a month, or a year from now) to align with your core values?
I do not want you to live a life of confusion or discontent. I want you to align with your core values. Remember that small steps are just as important as those that are large…in fact, lasting change is often found when we engage in small steps!
Consider writing a values-driven mission statement. Create a short statement that includes your top core values…nothing lengthy.
Example: Your top values are faithfulness, commitment, and peace.
To help women build strong foundations in faith and commitment so that they find and live in the true freedom found in God’s peace.
Your mission statement can be business or personal-based.
We Change All the Time
Keep your core values and your mission statement (if you should choose to create one) in a handy place. Review them months from now, or even a year or more from now.
As we learn, as we grow as women, our core values shift. It is okay to pivot or to reinvent yourself. With your most recent core values under your belt, and with God at your side, you will have the best compass to lead your life!
Have you worked with core values before? If yes, how did it help you?
Core Values List (see question 5)
- Inner Harmony
- Meaningful Work
Action Step - Prayer Time for Women: "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20 NIV) Heavenly Father, I try to live my life in a manner that reflects you, but I sometimes fall short. Please increase my faith to help me avoid distractions, such as the lies that the enemy whispers in my ear, or the busyness of life itself which acts as a distraction. You created me a unique person, and you gave me a destiny that is mine, and mine alone. I praise you, Father, for doing this for me. Please guide me to focus on the characteristics that you created for me to live my life by. I want to be the best that I can be as I serve you. Please unlock my heart and open my eyes so that I find my identity in you, and you alone. Please give me the wisdom to walk the path that aligns with the vision that you have for my future. In Jesus' name, Amen