Finding Your Core Values: An Exploration of Authentic Living

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Why focus on core values, you might ask? Simply put, they are the guiding stars of our lives, influencing every decision we make, from the career paths we choose to the relationships we nurture. Understanding your core values isn’t just about self-discovery; it’s about creating a life that resonates deeply with who you are and what you stand for.

In this post, we’ll walk through a practical, three-step process to not only recognize your top five values but also to critically examine their origins and ensure that they genuinely reflect your personal beliefs—not just the expectations imposed by society. We’ll also explore how surrounding yourself with people who share or respect your values can enrich your life and support your personal growth.

Step 1: Recognize Your Values

Our first step is to acknowledge what is genuinely important to us. The notion of pinpointing our values can seem daunting, but breaking it down into actionable steps makes it more mangable.

Discover Your Top 5 Values

To understand your motivating forces, start by isolating the core values that resonate most with you. A simple way to approach this is to respond to the following reflective questions:

  • What is most important to me?
  • What are the non-negotiables in my life?
  • What do I think makes a good person?


Your responses will likely pivot around themes of family, integrity, independence, professionalism, or any of the myriad values that color our convictions.

Below is a list of the top 50 core values people tend to have. Start by crossing out anything that doesn’t feel like it sits right with you, and circle the ones that are important to you. 

Keep narrowing it down until you’re left with only five values- you don’t want to have too many because then they aren’t core values, they might just be things you like or admire but that you don’t actually live your life by.

Here are the Top 50 Core Values:

  • Achievement
  • Wisdom
  • Adventure
  • Authority
  • Wealth
  • Autonomy
  • Balance
  • Beauty
  • Justice
  • Openness
  • Optimise
  • Peace
  • Pleasure
  • Poise
  • Boldness
  • Authenticity
  • Empathy
  • Community
  • Creativity
  • Curiosity
  • Determination
  • Fairness
  • Faith
  • Fame
  • Friendships
  • Fun
  • Kindness
  • Knowledge
  • Leadership
  • Learning
  • Love
  • Loyalty
  • Growth
  • Happiness
  • Humor
  • Influence
  • Popularity
  • Recognition
  • Stability
  • Success
  • Status
  • Trustworthiness
  • Reputation
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Security
  • Self-Respect
  • Service
  • Spirituality
  • Honesty
Define and Understand Your Values

Once you’ve identified these guiding lights, the next phase involves defining them. Take, for instance, a commitment to ‘kindness.’

Kindness could manifest as a conscious effort to help those in need, maintain a patient demeanor in challenging circumstances, or advocate for charitable causes.

Apply these definitions to personal contexts. In what ways does kindness already appear in your life? How do you wish to amplify or refine it?

Look at different areas of your life, like your family and relationships, career, and mental and physical health, and see how the value can integrate into these areas and what it means to you.

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Step 2: Critically Examine Your Values

While we might feel convicted by our values, it’s essential to pierce the fog of our predispositions and inspect these beliefs with a critical lens.

Identify the Origins of Your Values

Our values can often trace their roots back to our formative years.

Delve into your childhood and early influences. Can you detect how these values took shape? Perhaps the value of ‘resilience’ was hewn from overcoming adversity, maybe ‘creativity’ was nurtured in an environment that encouraged free expression.

For example, I can trace my value of adventure to my childhood which was spent exploring the “unknown” of my front yard that felt like an expedition through the wilderness, now this manifests in my life through travel and exploration into unknown cultures.

Evaluate Societal Influence

Society is a huge influence on our value systems. Take time to differentiate between values picked up serendipitously and those that were instilled or imposed.

An exploratory exercise could involve pondering the appeal of certain societal norms and whether they genuinely resonate with your internal compass.

By exploring these layers, you will pave the way for a values system that reflects your authentic self, rather than societal molds or outdated narratives.

Step 3: Surround Yourself with Like-Valued People

There are so many sayings alluding to how important the people we surround ourselves are. From we are the company we keep to being the sum of the five people we spend the most time with. When it comes to values, this is especially true.

Build a Supportive Community

Foster connections with individuals who not only share your values but also challenge and inspire you to embody them more fully. This community can range from close friends and mentors to broader networks within work, hobbies, or volunteer activities.

When your circle reflects and respects your values, it acts as a sanctuary for self-betterment and a sounding board for growth.

The Liberating Power of Living by Your Core Values

The process of identifying and living by your core values is an empowering one. It liberates you from the expectations of others, grounding you in a life that is truly your own. Each decision becomes a reflection of your internal standards, each action a choice that aligns with the person you aspire to be.

Anchor yourself in the solidity of your unique value system and enjoy the authenticity it brings to every area of your life. Whether in personal relationships, professional pursuits, or societal contributions, a values-led life is a fulfilling one.

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