How to Find and Live By Your Core Values
What Are Values?
Stop right there. I know you read the word “values” and are rolling your eyes. I know because I’VE been there! Yeah, the lassie with a WHOLE BLOG about values has been in your shoes! But trust me – I plan to challenge every misconception you have ever had about this whole “values” thing.
In fact, let’s kick this off with a common misconception: values change as we grow. Now, you may be thinking, “hey, that sounds like good advice to me?” But hear me out. There was a time when I also convinced myself that as I changed, evolved, shedded skin, did all the things that I push into personally, that my values would grow. I was missing the fact that values should be who I am at my core! That’s why they’re called CORE values, right?! So, unless there’s a catastrophic event, your values don’t change. Whattt?
Your core values should be 4 – 6 words that sum up what is MOST important to you. JUST 4 – 6 words! Because if everything is important, NOTHING is important!
Who Are They For?
Here’s another misconception: values are for corporations. Before I really pushed into this subject, if you asked me what I thought about values, I’d describe the kind of sentiment a corporation has in their lobby. Like, here they are – on the wall! Lassies and lads, I was WRONG! – shocking I know!
Values are very much for individuals. I know, mic drop.
Now, maybe you’re thinking “Mummabear, do I really need to sit down and write out a list of values? Will it really make that much of a difference?” Well, ask yourself a few questions. Are you having a hard time making decisions? Feeling stuck? Not sure why you’re unhappy? If you say ‘yes’ to any of these, I hear you. I see you. I’ve BEEN you. And that’s why I KNOW this can help you.
How Do I Find Mine?
Lassies and lads, I have read all the books, listened to all the podcasts and my favorite value test is by Brant Menswar, author of Black Sheep as a very valuable resource. Go to his website and there’s a downloadable test that can help you out. Stop reading here. Go do it now!! Then come back and we will continue our wee chat.
Level Up Your Values
Identifying your core values is not just about picking a word. It’s about digging into what about that core value is REALLY resonating with you.
Let’s say you pick the word ‘adventure’ as a core value. But what is it about adventure that resonates with you? Is it discovery? Curiosity?
Hello, recovering lawyer here, so I looove pulling things apart. I love getting really curious! So, what I love to suggest my clients do is to write down their values and define them. Write down what the definition of those words are because when you do, you’ll be able to see if they’re in your day or not. See if they’re in your life. See if you’re speaking them into existence. And also, if there’s a way for you to level your value up.
Really pulling apart the word you’ve chosen as a value will help you find more elements of that word in your life. Really!! You will look for more ways to have adventure, discovery, and curiosity in your life – because you’re seeing it from MORE angles.
As you’re identifying your values, you might come across some that feel a bit… icky. I am a born leader. Leadership is very natural to me. When I admit that, part of me knows it’s true, but a big part of me also says “Okay, not very humble of you, Coach Mummabear. What if you’re not a leader, you’re just bossy!?” Well to that I say, it’s time for mic drop moment number 2: do not let ANYONE call you (or your children!!) bossy!
Lassies, I need you to hear this especially. This is something that came up with the female entrepreneurs in my Empowered. LIFE – Mastermind. The world wants women to value certain things. But guess what? A mum doesn’t need to have ‘Family’ as a core value in order to be a great mum!!! Seriously!! Don’t judge yourself when you figure out your authentic core values. Be proud that you’re pushing into getting to know yourself. Because when you know yourself, you can trust yourself. And when you trust yourself, you make really good decisions lassies and lads. So push into that.
So, when you’re figuring out your core values, is there one you’ve avoided? Dig into why. Get CURIOUS! What is this feeling protecting you from? What are you avoiding? Why are you not pushing into this value?? We can associate shame with words we choose and words we don’t choose. This is normal. But get curious about where this is coming from. It will help you know more about yourself and, hello, knowledge is power!!
Okay, I’ve Got My Values. Now What?
If you’re like me, the next thing you might have thought about values is, okay, I figure out what my values are and then – never look at them again, right? The real work is just picking them out. After that, well, you know what they are so, just tuck them away in a drawer. Sounds nice and tidy, huh?
But if you’re really living by your values, they should become part of who you are. Non-negotiable. I don’t have mine tucked away in a drawer, I have mine EVERYWHERE! On my office door, on my desk, even the side of my laptop. And if I met you and we chatted, you would know what my values are. If I’m doing it right, I show up that way. You would know EXACTLY who I am because I would speak it into existence!
And when I say “speak it into existence”, I don’t mean just tell people what your values are. Your values should be USED. Use them to make decisions! To make goals! Things of REAL significance! I use my values every single day.
Every. Single. Day.
And this is one of the things I really push my clients on in Empowered. LIFE; using our values as the foundation – as our anchor. Now, there’s this wonderful book called Welcome Home that describes this perfectly. Basically, if you’re building a home and get the foundation right, then you can build rooms in the house. If you get the foundation wrong, the house will crumble. I see values as this foundation.
A Real Life Example
Now that we’ve got some misconceptions out of the way, let’s have a little storytime. Have you got some tea? Ready to push on? Brilliant.
So, last year I ran my first ever marathon. If you’ve done a marathon, or lots of them, high five! In fact, ALL the high fives!! That was HARD! I trained for 6 months – getting up early in the morning to run with this INCREDIBLE group of people. And every Friday night… I’d dread the next morning when I’d be waking up crazy early to go run. But I did it!!
The light at the end of the tunnel was the Disney Marathon. For any readers that are non-Central Florida lassies and lads, it’s a big deal here. Like, a REALLY big deal. I signed up with a team that was going to donate money to Cannonball Kid’s cancer (a non-profit for pediatric cancer research that I started after my son was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma).
We decided we were going to raise $26,700. Get it? Like $1,000 for each mile in the marathon – an INSANE 26.7 miles! I also wanted to run each mile for a child. Either a child whose funeral I went to, a child my son was friends with, or a child that had inspired me. So, there I was, a list of all the kids’ names, a team, and training my arse off in the wee hours of the morning. I was READY. And then – COVID.
Disney had to cancel their marathon. And I have to admit, my gut instinct? RELIEF! The first place my brain wanted to go was “Yes, this is great.”
But then came some sleepless nights. I LOVE the people I run with. I LOVE the people I’m running for. Raising this money for them and achieving this goal is too important to let go. So I decided, I’ve GOT to figure this out.
My Values in Jeopardy
The reason I’m sharing this story and the reason this was such a big deal to me is because my values were all over it. Like, ALLLL over it. Growth, Leadership, Family, Gratitude – these were all core values that were being tested.
Growth: This is something that I had never done before (and also claimed I would NEVER do again).
Leadership: I was trying to raise money and educate about a cause, while encouraging others to do the same.
Family: Hello, my son had cancer. Also, my entire family had made signs for me and were planning on showing up. They saw how hard I trained and wanted to be there for me.
Gratitude: I am sooo grateful that my son is alive. Every time I say that or write that or think that, I feel the gratitude in my whole body. I NEED to support funding for pediatric cancer research so other families can feel this too.
Our INCREDIBLE Coach Ed came up with a plan. We were still going to do the marathon – just running around one of the neighborhoods where we had been training instead. Doing laps around a lake is much more of a mental challenge. At Disney there’s lots of cool scenery and people cheering you on – but we were finishing what we started!!
Making the decision to take part in Coach Ed’s solution was easy for me, because ALL my core values were at play! Decisions are sooo much easier when you have your core values to anchor your decision-making process.
So, in the end, knowing my core values helped me figure out why I felt so out of whack when the marathon was canceled. And, they helped me figure out what to do when I had an opportunity to live by these core values.
But How Do I Use Them Every Day?
One of the tangible ways to see if you’re living your values is to look at your calendar. Do you see your values in there? Or living unintentionally, unconsciously on autopilot?
Dr. Nicole LePera on How to Do the Work talks about autopilot – how 95% of what we do is based in our subconscious. If we’re on autopilot, we’re just going, going, going. Never stopping to get conscious.
Lassies. Let’s chat for a minute. As women, we get asked to do A LOT. Whether it’s with the kids’ school, for charity. Who else gets asked to be the water mum at the games? Right? So, it gets easy to say ‘Yes’ A LOT. But do you ever stop and ask “are my values at play here?”
For me, being in the PTA or volunteering at a lot of things at school is not truly contributing to my family values. My family value comes from the connection I have specifically with my children. So, I don’t feel guilty saying ‘No’ when I know that it will make room for the kind of ‘Yes’ that really makes me feel whole. A yes that is value aligned.
So, audit your values. Make sure they are so present in your everyday life that if I were to look through your calendar, I could see what your values are.
We’re near the end! Just one more lesson for all the lassies and lads that have stuck with me so far! Maybe you’re thinking “what the heck is value consciousness”? I know, I hadn’t heard of it before either – because I created it as a way to explain the significance of values. The idea is that you should be using your values as an anchor in your life and be AWARE of them.
So, ask yourself. Am I speaking my values into existence? Are they in my calendar? If you met me and spoke to me, would you know what my values are?
I find that value consciousness has allowed me to know why I am off the beam and on the beam. Okay, more phrases that may be new to you. When I say “off the beam”, this could mean different things for different people. For me, it’s when I’m less patient with the people I love. When I’m feeling a little agitated. Like I’m kind of crawling out of my skin a little bit or I’m super exhausted.
Being “on the beam” is when I‘m value aligned, comfortable in my skin, and energized.
So, next time you’re running, running, running on autopilot – get conscious. Be AWARE of what you’re doing in life. Where are you going? Why are you not going somewhere you said you would?
Here’s a little homework, lassies and lads. If you’re feeling off the beam or would like to stay on the beam, break out that calendar we keep talking about and plan your week ahead. Write your values ON your calendar. Make sure they’re ALL there. Of course, life happens. We won’t ALWAYS fit in every single one, every single day. But maybe when you get conscious, you’ll notice that you’re pouring everything into ‘Family’ and nothing into ‘Health’.
When you take a step back and look at the big picture, you can find a way to fit in activities that balance ALL of your values and cut out the ones that don’t. If you take ONE thing away from this blog, let it be this!! I promise you it will change EVERYTHING.
Love Coach Mummabear
A life coach who helps you win.