Tips for Identifying Your Core Values

This Month’s Topic: Core Values
The beginning of a new month brings a new topic to explore. This month’s topic is Core Values. Core Values are fundamental to building a sustainable business and personal life. We will explore various aspects of core values throughout the month.

Tips for Identifying Your Core Values

Your core values guide your personal life and your business life…whether you realize it or not. Getting clarity about your core values helps you make better decisions in all areas of your life, be more productive, and reduces your stress which in turn improves your health.

So how do you get crystal clear about your core values – for your personal life and your business life? Keep reading. In the rest of this article, I share a simple process that will help you clearly identify your core values and how they manifest in your personal life and business life.

What are Core Values?

Before jumping into the process, let’s do a quick refresher.

Core values are those fundamental beliefs or principles that guide your decisions and actions. Because core values are primarily philosophical, it helps to think about them from the perspective of the following six characteristics. Core values are:

  • Fundamental beliefs
  • Provide the ethical framework
  • Are the norms for acceptable behavior
  • Enduring
  • Slow to change
  • Shape the culture of your organization

Core values guide your personal decisions and actions as well as the decisions and actions of your business. For more info, see The Value of Core Values

Use this Process

Here is a simple process to brainstorm your personal core values – and the core values that guide your business. I created it for my Strengthen the Harmony program.

  1. List the values that are most important to you – Start by simply brainstorming words that come to mind when you think about your core values. Write all the words down in a list. Once you have your list, review your list of words, and determine if any are:
    a. More important than others. If so, highlight those words.
    b. An “umbrella” for others. If so, what other words come under that umbrella?
  2. Write a clarifying statement that describes
    a. WHY this value is important to you
    b. HOW it shows up in your life – If you are stumped, think about times in your life, you had to make choices or decisions, or when you were inspired, upset, confused, or stressed. Write/draw/dictate to your phone about an example of when you used this value or would use this value to guide a decision or behavior.
  3. If possible, rank the values. (This does not mean you would compromise on a lower-ranked value. Instead, think of it this way: Is there a value that is the most important? Is there a value that is all-encompassing? Are there values that flow from a broader value?

Create a simple chart like the one below from my Strengthen The Harmony program.

After you have identified your personal core values, use this same process to identify the core values for your business. Then compare the two charts. Are there similarities? What are the differences? How will you react/respond in your business if something occurs that doesn’t align with your core values? 


As you work to identify your core values, keep in mind that your business’s core values are not words that are typically seen in slogans, buzzwords, or catchphrases. Avoid using words that may sound good but are meaningless. Avoid using words that are a passing trend.

Remember, core values describe your fundamental belief for why you do what you do. They do not describe what you do. They describe the reasons behind what you do.

Next: Sharing your core values with others

Create more harmony in your workplace, your work life, and your personal life by clarifying your personal and business core values using the Big List of Core Values that I created. You will also develop an action plan to achieve that harmony.

Judy Whalen
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