Do you want to live a life of integrity in which your actions align with your personal list of values and beliefs? Great, you’re in the right place to begin living true.
Many of us struggle with finding direction, making big decisions, and even knowing how to act in day-to-day situations. When you take the time to consider your core values, these things become crystal clear.
Core values point the needle of your compass, illuminating the pathway toward living a meaningful life — one that’s filled with passion and purpose.
Instead of allowing outside influences like media, pop culture, or social environment to shape your life, you can be true to yourself.
In this article, I will help you uncover your true identity by clarifying your values.
By the end, you’ll have discovered a unique list of values and beliefs to help orient your life. And even better, you’ll have a clear idea of what actions you can take to experience life in true alignment.
What does it mean to be true to yourself?
“A lot of the conflict you have in your life exists simply because you’re not living in alignment; you’re not be being true to yourself.” ― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You
Every house needs a sturdy foundation. You can build a beautiful home, but it will sink into the ground without a solid base.
The same is true with your values. Just like the foundation of a home, core values provide the groundwork for your actions, decisions, and behaviors.
Without a base, your “home” falls apart, and you lose a sense of purpose and direction. You may appear to be successful, but still, feel lost. Until you define what success means to you, you’ll be chasing empty accomplishments.
If you don’t understand your values, you may violate them without realizing it. This can lead to feelings of guilt and shame, without knowing why.
Researchers confirm that when people have a clear set of core values:
- It’s easier to make big life decisions around pursuing passions, long-term career goals, and relationships.
- They are less likely to engage in destructive thought patterns, especially in difficult life situations.
- They tolerate physical pain more easily.
- They have greater self-discipline and self-motivation.
- Social connections are stronger.
Let’s begin by looking inward to discover what really matters to you. It’s a process, and you might need support as you dig deep to find out what makes you tick.
The list of values and beliefs you are about to dive into is adapted from Be True: Discover Your Core Value System. It’s a course in which I personally walk you through proven exercises to find your truth and begin living it.
When you’re ready to start discovering who you are, check out the course. In the meantime, here are some simple ideas to get you started.
Defining your personal core values
When it comes to core values, there’s no “one size fits all” approach. Everyone is different.
That’s why I don’t recommend jumping ahead to the list and choosing words that sound good. Instead, I invite you to pick up a pen and paper, and spend some time on personal reflection — writing about what moves you.
Below are some questions to help you start this exploration. The answers you write down are clues you can use to identify your core value system.
1. Who do you admire?
To better understand what you value, it can help to turn to real-life examples of people who exhibit admirable qualities. Think of some positive role models who inspire you to live a meaningful life.
This could include people you know personally, famous figures, characters in a book, etc.
As you think about these people, write down:
- what it is about them that inspires you
- the admirable qualities they possess
- behaviors and actions you would like to emulate
2. What inspires you to take action?
Often our core values reveal themselves through our actions. Can you think of a situation when you took a stand for someone or something?
Try writing down some of the reasons you felt so strongly to take action. For example:
- the feelings that motivated you to speak up or act
- what you were willing to risk in that situation
- the results of taking action — what you gained or lost
3. When do you feel most like yourself?
When you’re in situations that allow you to be authentic, that’s a clue that you are in alignment with your values. And when you have to betray yourself to fit in or find success, you feel ashamed and alone.
In situations that feel wrong in some way, what’s going on? Write down:
- who you’re with
- what feelings are triggered
- what these experiences cost you emotionally or physically
In situations where you feel real and authentic, what’s going on? Write down:
- who you’re with
- what activities are involved
- positive emotions or outcomes of these experiences
102 examples of values and beliefs
If you found it hard to put words to the qualities, emotions, and ideas in the exercises above, it may help to look through some examples.
Take some time to explore this list of values and beliefs, and consider which ones resonate with you:
|Respect||Love of Career||Appreciation|
|Forgiveness||Encouragement||Trusting Your Gut|
|Work Smarter and Harder||Pride in Your Work||Giving People a Chance|
|This Too Shall Pass Attitude||Friendship||Peace|
Now that you’ve got plenty of ideas, you can begin to narrow it down to a few that could become the basis of your core value system.
Here are some questions to help you see where these values show up in your life:
- How do you define this value?
- What actions and activities reflect this value?
- What else could you do to further align yourself with this value?
- Could you do more to include this value in your daily life?
Putting core values into action
When what you value the most is congruent with what you do, you are standing in your integrity.
Let’s bridge the gap between what you value and how to put that into action with some concrete examples:
Core value example: Freedom
If you chose freedom, you value “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.”
Here are some examples of actions you could take to align more fully with freedom as a core value and belief in your life:
- Express yourself freely and openly.
- Build a life in which you can create your own schedule, travel, try new things, etc.
- Nurture relationships with friends and family who give you the freedom to be yourself.
- Become your own boss.
- Include enough free time in your schedule.
Core value example: Wellness
If you identified wellness as a core value, the active pursuit of health would become a priority in your life.
Here are some day-to-day examples of how your short-term actions would line up with this personal value example:
- Fuel your body with nutritious foods.
- Stay active through regular exercise.
- Take care of your mental health by taking breaks, getting enough rest, spending time with loved ones, and asking for help when needed.
- Avoiding self-destructive habits.
Can you see how your short-term actions can put you more in line with your long-term core values? You can also use your core value system to assess opportunities and make decisions as they arise.
Final thoughts on being true
Through intentionally living in line with your values, you will begin to feel an increase in happiness, peace of mind, creativity, and flow.
Just as with anything in life, identifying core values goes beyond checking boxes on a list. Being true to your core values involves a lifelong journey of discovering, experimentation, trial, and error.
I suggest revisiting your core values from time to time. You can use this core values quiz to assess the degree to which you are following your inner compass. If it feels like you have drifted off course, or you’re completely lost, I’d like to help you get back on track.
You’ve just uncovered a formula for discovering your truth, and you don’t have to do it alone! Isn’t it about time to start living according to your core values?