How To Define Your Core Values

Now is the perfect time to rediscover and realign yourself with your core values.

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Photo by Gian Cescon on Unsplash
Photo by Gian Cescon on Unsplash


For many of us, the past few months have brought with them a massive shift into a new life. Emotionally, we are handling risk and uncertainty. Physically and mentally, routines have been drastically changed. In-person looks and feels very different at a distance, cloaked in masks and gloves, and we’ve experienced great loss, anger, and for many, an awakening to harsh realities of systemic racism that run counter to our core values.

Regrounding ourselves in our core values is critical not only on a personal level but on a professional level as well. Core values work to ground us. The deeply personal process of defining and codifying your unique values and orienting your work-self and private-self is an act of self-love.

One of my core values is to help redefine what it means to be a strong and beautiful woman in the music and fashion worlds and to empower the wonderful things that make us unique. — Janelle Monae

What are core values? They are those qualities, certainties, and beliefs that build your confidence, your inner-core, and are an expression of your true authentic self. Everyone’s values are different, and that’s the point. We may share core values with others, but the connection, prioritization, and expression of those core values in our work, and personal lives, is different for everyone.

Now is the perfect time to revisit, listen, question, and rebuild your core values. Here’s how:

  1. Take a sheet of paper and make 5 columns with the following headings: Always Valued, Often Valued, Sometimes Valued, Seldom Valued, and Never Valued.
  2. Click here and review this list of words. Now, place each of the words into one of the columns.
  3. Count up all the words in the Always Valued column. If you are over eight, go back and check yourself. Be honest, is this something you always value, at all cost? Is this something you will never compromise? If not, move it into the appropriate column.
  4. Now, take each of the eight (or less) that you have in the Always Valued column and start writing about why each is important to you. Where did this attachment or relationship to this value come from? How does it express itself at work and in your personal life? And most importantly, do you feel that you are violating this value in any way?
  5. If you feel you are not living in alignment, take action. Outline three to five actions that you will take in the following month to realign yourself with your values. Who can help you? What do you need to do? How will you remind yourself to keep working toward those values even when it feels hard and you may want to give in?

There is no secret sauce in rediscovering and recommitting to our core values; it simply takes work and commitment which can feel trying during times of stress. Getting back in touch with our core values will not only help us identify what’s amiss in our new normal but will also help ground us for the future.

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