Wayne Ergle
September 4, 2023

Core Values Decoded: Personal Values to Live By

Imagine you have a built-in GPS, not for navigating streets or finding the nearest coffee shop, but for guiding you through life’s big decisions and everyday choices. That’s what our core values are like. They’re our guidelines, helping us determine what’s truly important, where we want to go, and how we want to get there. Think of them as your inner compass, always pointing you in the right direction.

“Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave them all over everything you do.” – Elvis Presley.

So, how well do you know your inner compass? How often do you check in with it? In this exploration, we’ll dive into the world of core values, understand their significance, and learn how to let them guide us. Whether you’re just starting to think about what matters most to you or looking to reconnect with those guiding principles, this article is here to help you navigate.

Key Takeaways: Navigating Life with Core Values to Live By

TL;DR: Core values are the fundamental beliefs that shape our decisions, actions, and overall approach to life. They act as our internal roadmap, leading us towards authentic living. By discovering your core values, actively living by them, and periodically re-evaluating them, we ensure a life that’s not only fulfilling but also true to our unique selves.

1. The Essence of Core Values:

  • Core values are deeply personal beliefs that influence our decisions and actions. They’re the foundation of our character and the heartbeat of our motivations. Discovering your core values is a step-by-step journey into personal development.

2. Importance of Core Values in Decision-making:

  • They provide consistency in an ever-changing world, steer us in dilemmas, foster trust, and push us toward personal growth. In essence, values play a pivotal role in our decision-making processes.

3. Types of Core Values:

  • A core values list often includes relationships, work, life, and personal growth. Some values, like integrity, can span multiple categories. This list of core values is not exhaustive but serves as a guide.

4. Crafting Your Personal Core Values:

  • Reflect on past experiences, consider the essential people in your life, prioritize, test them out in hypothetical scenarios, seek feedback, and put them in writing. It’s a step-by-step journey to understanding what values mean to you.

5. Living Your Core Values:

  • Integrate them into daily actions, set boundaries, surround yourself with like-minded individuals, and celebrate moments when you genuinely embody them. This is where personal core values transition from being entirely different ideas to actionable principles.

6. The Evolving Nature of Core Values:

  • Life changes and personal growth can influence our values. Regular reflection and openness to evolution ensure our values align with our current selves. It’s essential to remember that core values are not organizational mandates but deeply personal beliefs.

7. The Power of Authentic Living:

  • Embracing and living by our core values leads to a life of authenticity, fulfillment, and genuine self-expression. Time and money can’t buy the satisfaction of living in alignment with your true self.

Remember, in life’s journey, core values are the signposts that ensure we’re heading in the direction that resonates with our true selves. Embrace them, live by them, and let them lead you towards your unique brilliance.

Unraveling the Mystery: What Are Core Values?

Have you ever had a gut feeling about something? A deep-down sense that a particular decision was right or wrong for you, even if you couldn’t quite put your finger on why? That’s your core values at work. They’re not just fancy words we throw around or list on a resume. They’re the essence of who we are, deeply ingrained principles that shape our thoughts, actions, and reactions.

A construction worker building the foundation of a house representing that core values are like the foundation of a building.

Core values are like the foundation of a building. Just as a building needs a solid base to withstand storms and external pressures, we rely on our core values to guide us through life’s challenges and joys. They’re our personal do’s and don’ts, the non-negotiables that define our character and drive our choices.

Think of them as your north star. Just as a compass points north, our core values ensure we’re heading in the direction that aligns with our true self. They help us navigate tricky situations, make tough decisions, and stay true to ourselves even when the world pulls in a million different directions.

Whether it’s integrity, compassion, ambition, or any other value, these principles act as our guiding lights, illuminating the path ahead and ensuring we stay on course. Recognizing and understanding them is the first step to living a fulfilling and authentic life.

The Heartbeat of Our Actions: Why Are Personal Values Important?

An artistic interpretation of a beating heart that conveys its vitality through bold brushstrokes and vibrant colors. Represents that personal core values are the heartbeat of our actions.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you felt out of place or something didn’t sit right with you? Maybe you were at a job that paid well but clashed with your beliefs, or perhaps you were in a group where the common mindset didn’t resonate with yours. These feelings of discomfort often arise when our surroundings or actions don’t align with our core values.

Core values are more than just personal beliefs or preferences; they’re the heartbeat of our actions, the driving force behind our motivations. Here’s why they’re so pivotal:

  1. Consistency in Chaos: Life is unpredictable. Situations change, and people come and go, but our core values remain constant. They provide a consistent framework that helps us make decisions, big or small, with clarity and confidence.
  2. Authentic Living: Have you ever heard the saying, “Be true to yourself”? It’s all about aligning with your core values. When our actions mirror our values, we live authentically, leading to greater satisfaction and peace of mind.
  3. Building Trust: Whether in personal relationships or professional interactions, consistency in our values fosters trust. People know what to expect from us, and that reliability strengthens bonds.
  4. Guidance in Dilemmas: Faced with a tough decision? Reflecting on our core values can often provide the clarity we need. They act as a filter, helping us evaluate options and choose the one that aligns best with who we are.
  5. Personal Growth: Recognizing and living by our core values pushes us towards personal growth. They challenge, motivate, and inspire us to evolve while staying rooted in our essence.

In essence, core values are the silent architects of our lives. They shape our world, influence our decisions, and define our character. Embracing them is not just about knowing what we stand for; it’s about ensuring that every step we take resonates with the beat of our authentic selves.

A Spectrum of Principles: Types of Core Values

While each of us has a unique set of core values, they often fall into broader categories many can relate to. These categories help us understand the different facets of our lives that our values touch upon. Let’s delve into some of these groupings:

1. Relationship Values

  • Trust: Believing in the reliability and truth of others.
  • Love: Holding a deep affection and care for someone.
  • Respect: Valuing others for who they are and treating them with dignity.
  • Loyalty: Staying committed and faithful to those we care about.

2. Work Values

  • Integrity: Doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.
  • Diligence: Putting in consistent effort and dedication.
  • Teamwork: Collaborating and working harmoniously with others.
  • Ambition: Striving for success and setting high goals.

3. Life Values

  • Health: Prioritizing physical and mental well-being.
  • Joy: Seeking happiness and positivity in daily life.
  • Adventure: Embracing new experiences and challenges.
  • Learning: Continuously seeking knowledge and growth.
  • Family: Valuing the bond, support, and love shared with family members.

4. Personal Growth Values

  • Resilience: Bouncing back from setbacks and challenges.
  • Authenticity: Staying true to oneself and not conforming to societal pressures.
  • Humility: Recognizing one’s limitations and being open to feedback.
  • Compassion: Showing empathy and kindness to others.

It’s worth noting that some core values might seamlessly fit into more than one category. Take “Integrity,” for instance; it’s not just a work value. It’s a principle that can be applied in relationships, personal growth, and everyday life choices. The beauty of core values is that they’re deeply personal and multifaceted. What might be paramount for one person might not hold the same weight for another, and its application can span multiple areas of life.

The key is to identify which values resonate most with you and how they fit into the broader tapestry of your life.

Fictional Case Study: James – Finding Balance Between Work and Home

A close up of James, the manager of a big box home goods store, in the core values fictional case study.

James was the manager of a bustling big box home goods store. The aisles of tools, home improvement items, and garden essentials were his domain. He took immense pride in his work, ensuring every customer left satisfied and every employee felt valued. The store’s success was a testament to his dedication; he wore it as a badge of honor.

However, while the store thrived, there was a storm brewing at home. Evenings once filled with family dinners and bedtime stories for his kids had turned into late-night work sessions. Store inventory checks and staff meetings consumed weekends. His wife often remarked, half in jest and half in frustration, that the store was his first love. The laughter of his children became a distant memory, replaced by their pleas for his attention.

The breaking point came one evening when his wife sat him down with tears in her eyes and voiced the pain the family felt. “The kids miss their dad, and I miss my husband,” she whispered. The weight of her words hit James hard. He realized that while he was building a successful career, he was inadvertently neglecting the very people he was working so hard for.

Determined to change, James embarked on a journey of self-reflection. He recognized that his core value of dedication to work had overshadowed another equally important value: family. He began taking tangible steps to restore the balance. This included delegating tasks, setting boundaries for work hours, and, most importantly, designating quality time for family. Movie nights, weekend picnics, and date nights with his wife became sacred, non-negotiable events.

The transformation was evident. The laughter returned to his home, and the bond with his wife and kids grew stronger. James learned a valuable lesson: Core values aren’t static; they require constant reflection and, sometimes, realignment. By prioritizing family alongside work, he found harmony at home and discovered a newfound joy and purpose in his professional life.

Crafting Your Roadmap: How to Create Personal Core Values

A paper roadmap laid out on a desk representing that core values are like a roadmap in our lives guiding us where we want to go.

We all have an innate sense of what’s important to us, but often, these feelings remain undefined, floating in the background of our consciousness. Defining your core values is like crafting a personalized compass, one that points you in the direction of your true north. So, how do you go about creating this compass? Let’s break it down:

1. Reflect on Past Experiences

  • Think back to moments in your life when you felt incredibly proud or, conversely, deeply disappointed. What were the underlying principles that influenced those feelings? Often, our most emotional experiences are tied to our core values.

2. Consider Role Models

  • Who do you admire? It could be a family member, a public figure, or a fictional character. Identify the qualities in them that resonate with you. These traits often mirror values you hold dear.

3. Prioritize

  • List out all the values that resonate with you. If you had to choose just five, which would they be? Prioritizing helps you identify values that are truly core to your being.

4. Test Them Out

  • Imagine scenarios or decisions where each value comes into play. Do they lead you in a way that feels right? It might be worth revisiting if a value consistently feels out of place.

5. Seek Feedback

  • Sometimes, those close to us can offer insights we might overlook. Share your list with trusted friends or family and get their perspective. They might see a value in you that you haven’t recognized.

6. Put Them in Writing

  • There’s power in penning things down. Write your core values in a journal, create a vision board, or even set them as reminders on your phone. Seeing them regularly reinforces their importance.

7. Stay Open to Evolution

  • As we discussed earlier with James’s story, core values can evolve. Life experiences, personal growth, and changing circumstances can all influence shifts in our values. Regularly revisit and reflect on your list to ensure it aligns with your current self.

Crafting your core values isn’t a one-time exercise; it’s an ongoing journey of self-discovery. Your roadmap might need recalibrating as you grow, learn, and evolve. And that’s okay. The goal is to have guiding principles that help you navigate life with authenticity and purpose.

Fictional Case Study: Brittany – Guide to Navigating the Path of Medical School with Clarity

An artistic portrayal of Brittany, a medical student, in a core values fictional case study. She is at her desk busy studying.

Brittany had always been a star student, excelling in her studies and showing a keen interest in the sciences. As she embarked on her journey through medical school, the path seemed clear: she was destined to be a doctor, just like her father. However, as the rigors of medical school intensified, a nagging doubt began to creep into her mind. Was she pursuing medicine for herself or trying to fulfill her father’s dream?

Determined to find clarity, Brittany decided to embark on the exercise of defining her core values:

1. Reflect on Past Experiences

  • Brittany remembered volunteering at a local clinic during her college days. The joy she felt helping patients, and the satisfaction of making a difference stood out. These memories were hers, not influenced by her father.

2. Consider Role Models

  • While her father was undoubtedly an inspiration, Brittany admired other figures like humanitarian aid workers and researchers. She realized she admired anyone who positively impacted others’ lives.

3. Prioritize

  • Among the values she listed, “compassion,” “self-determination,” “growth,” “service,” and “authenticity” topped her list. These were values she felt deeply connected to.

4. Test Them Out

  • Brittany imagined a world where she wasn’t a doctor. The thought of being unable to help and heal didn’t sit right with her. This reaffirmed her commitment to medicine.

5. Seek Feedback

  • Brittany’s friends often spoke about her innate ability to comfort and help. They saw her as genuinely driven by the desire to aid, not just someone following a family legacy.

6. Put Them in Writing

  • She penned her journal’s core values and placed them by her study desk. Every time she felt overwhelmed, a glance at these values reminded her of her ‘why.’

7. Stay Open to Evolution

  • Brittany recognized that her journey was beginning. While her core values provided clarity now, she remained open to evolving and understanding herself better with time.

At the end of this introspective journey, Brittany’s path became clear. While she deeply respected her father and his legacy, her drive to become a doctor stemmed from her passion and values. She wasn’t just following in his footsteps but creating her path, driven by her genuine desire to help and heal.

9 Examples of Core Values

You know, core values aren’t just fancy words we throw around. They’re like our personal rulebook, shaping how we think, act, and interact with the world around us. These aren’t just things to nod at and move on; they’re fundamental, actionable beliefs that can make a huge difference in our day-to-day lives. Use this list as inspiration to write your values.

1. Integrity

  • Action Statement: Always act honestly and consistently, ensuring your actions align with your words and beliefs.

2. Compassion

  • Action Statement: Approach others with understanding and kindness, seeking to alleviate suffering whenever possible.

3. Perseverance

  • Action Statement: Face challenges head-on, remaining steadfast in your goals, even when the path becomes difficult.

4. Respect

  • Action Statement: Value and honor the feelings, rights, and traditions of others, treating everyone as you’d like to be treated.

5. Accountability

  • Action Statement: Take responsibility for your actions and decisions, acknowledge mistakes, and seek to make amends.

6. Creativity

  • Action Statement: Embrace new ideas and perspectives, always seeking innovative solutions and approaches.

7. Growth

  • Action Statement: Continuously seek personal and professional development, embracing opportunities to learn and evolve.

8. Collaboration

  • Action Statement: Work harmoniously with others, valuing diverse perspectives and skills to achieve shared goals.

9. Courage

  • Action Statement: Face fears and uncertainties bravely, standing up for your beliefs, even in adversity.

Embracing and living by these core values can transform individual lives and ripple out to impact communities and societies at large. As you navigate your path, consider which of these values statements resonate with you and how you can put them into action, creating a life that’s both fulfilling and aligned with your deepest beliefs.

Walking the Talk: How to Live Your Core Values

Identifying your core values is a significant first step, but it’s just the beginning. The real magic happens when you start living by them, letting them guide your daily actions and decisions. It’s like having a roadmap for life, ensuring you’re always heading in the direction that feels right for you. So, how do you truly walk the talk? Let’s dive in:

1. Daily Reflection

  • Start or end your day with a few minutes of reflection. Ask yourself: Did my actions today align with my core values? This simple practice helps keep your values at the forefront of your mind.

2. Set Boundaries

  • If “family” is a core value, ensure you’re carving out quality time with loved ones. If “integrity” is on your list, be vigilant about not compromising, even when it’s tempting. Setting clear boundaries helps you stay true to your values.

3. Surround Yourself with Like-minded Individuals

  • They say you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Surrounding yourself with people who share similar values can reinforce and strengthen your commitment to them.

4. Take Action

  • Values aren’t just about beliefs; they’re about action. If “community service” is a value, volunteer. If “lifelong learning” resonates with you, pick up a new book or take a course. Let your values guide your actions.

5. Celebrate Small Wins

  • Living by your core values is a journey with challenges along the way. Celebrate the moments when you truly embody your values. These small wins keep you motivated.

6. Hold Yourself Accountable

  • We’re all human, and there will be times when we might stray from our values. Instead of being overly critical, acknowledge the misstep, learn from it, and commit to doing better next time.

7. Revisit and Reflect

  • As you grow and evolve, so might your understanding of your values. Regularly revisit them, reflect on your journey, and adjust if needed.

Living by your core values isn’t about perfection but intention and effort. It’s about making conscious choices that align with who you truly are. And when you do that, you find personal fulfillment and inspire those around you to embark on their own journey of authentic living.

The Evolving Self: Re-evaluating Core Values

Change is the only constant in life. As we journey through different phases, face challenges, celebrate milestones, and grow as individuals, it’s natural for our perspectives and priorities to shift. Just as a snake sheds its skin to reveal a new one beneath, there are times when we might need to re-evaluate and refresh our core values to ensure they still resonate with our evolving self. Here’s how to approach this introspective process:

1. Recognize the Signs

  • Feeling restless, unfulfilled, or consistently out of alignment with your actions can be indicators that it’s time to revisit your core values. Listen to these internal cues; they’re your soul’s way of seeking alignment.

2. Reflect on Life Changes

  • Major life events, be it a new job, a move to a different city, starting a family, or even personal challenges, can influence our values. Take stock of recent changes and consider how they might have impacted your priorities.

3. Seek External Perspectives

  • Sometimes, a fresh perspective can offer valuable insights. Engage in deep conversations with trusted friends, family, or even mentors. They might highlight shifts in your behavior or mindset that you haven’t noticed.

4. Journal Your Thoughts

  • Writing can be a powerful tool for reflection. Dedicate some quiet time to journal your feelings, aspirations, and internal conflicts. This can help you identify values that might have evolved.

5. Compare with Your Past Self

  • Revisit the core values you identified earlier. Do they still resonate? If not, what has changed? This comparison can offer clarity on where adjustments are needed.

6. Embrace the Evolution

  • It’s essential to understand that changing or evolving core values isn’t a sign of inconsistency. It’s a testament to growth. Embrace the evolution and recognize it as a part of your journey towards a more authentic self.

7. Integrate the New Values

  • Once you’ve identified new or evolved values, integrate them into your daily life. This might mean changing your routines, setting new boundaries, or making significant life decisions.

Life is a beautiful, ever-changing tapestry; our core values are the threads that give it color and pattern. By regularly revisiting and realigning with these values, we ensure that our tapestry remains vibrant, authentic, and truly reflective of who we are at every stage of our journey.

Conclusion: The Power of Authentic Living

In the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s easy to get swept up in the currents of societal expectations, external pressures, and fleeting trends. But at the heart of a fulfilling and meaningful life lies the power of authentic living, and our core values are the anchors that ground us in this authenticity.

By identifying, living by, and periodically re-evaluating our core values, we chart a course that’s true to ourselves and inspire others to seek their own paths of genuine self-expression. Just as “Be Your Own Invention” encourages us to uncover and embrace our unique brilliance, our core values are the guiding lights that illuminate this journey.

So, as you move forward, remember not just to know your values but to live them, breathe them, and let them infuse every aspect of your life. Because in a world full of imitations, there’s nothing more powerful than being your authentic self.

Personal Core Values Helpful Resources

Values Factor: The Secret to Creating an Inspired and Fulfilling Life by Dr. John F. Demartini

  • Dr. Demartini delves into the role of values in shaping our destiny. He provides practical exercises to determine one’s true values and how to align them with life’s goals.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

  • Pink explores the dynamics of motivation, touching on the role of autonomy, mastery, and purpose. It offers insights into how values can drive our actions and motivations.

https://www.amazon.com/Atomic-Habits-Proven-Build-Break/dp/0735211299Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” by James Clear

  • While primarily about habit formation, Clear touches on the importance of aligning habits with personal values for lasting change.

The Tim Ferriss Show

  • Tim Ferriss interviews top performers from various fields, often diving into their guiding principles, values, and habits that have led to their success.

The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes

  • Lewis Howes interviews a variety of guests, from entrepreneurs to athletes, discussing their paths to success and the core values that have guided them. The podcast often touches on personal growth, mindset, and the importance of authenticity.


What is a core values list, and why is it important?

A core values list is a compilation of fundamental beliefs and principles that guide our decisions, actions, and overall approach to life. It’s essential because it acts as our internal compass, ensuring that our actions and decisions align with our true selves and what we stand for.

How does integrity fit into the list of personal values?

Integrity is often a cornerstone in many people’s list of personal values. It represents honesty, consistency, and being true to oneself, regardless of external pressures. For many, it’s the guiding principle that ensures actions align with beliefs, making it a foundational value in personal and professional settings.

How often should I revisit my ultimate core values to ensure they still align with my growth?

Personal growth and life experiences can influence our values. It’s a good practice to revisit your ultimate core values at least once a year or after significant life events. This ensures that they remain relevant and continue to guide you authentically.

Wayne Ergle

Wayne firmly believes that each of us possesses extraordinary gifts and talents, just waiting to be unleashed upon the world. But life's hurdles often obstruct our path to greatness. That's why he birthed Be Your Own Invention – to ignite the flames of motivation in everyone's transformation journey. Wayne’s transformation story includes conquering a 20-year battle with severe alcohol addiction, emerging triumphant and sober since 2018.