We all have decisions to make in our lives. Often, we are happy with the consequences of our decisions; sometimes, we are not. How do you make your decisions? Out of impulsiveness? Obedience? Fear? Excitement? What do you base your decisions on? What others think? What you think others will think? What you think? What you see others doing? What you feel like doing right now? There is a simpler way of making decisions: core values. I first heard about core values from author and crossfit coach Ben Bergeron. He uses core values in his own life to decide how he will spend his resources – especially time and energy. I have come up with core values for my own life, and they help me prioritize my use of resources. In this article, I want to share with you the what, why, and how of core values so that you can apply them to your own life.
What are core values? Core values are a small set of people, places, things, or ideas that are the most important to you in life. They can be anything: faith, family, work, education, fitness, character, self-improvement, integrity, honesty, honor, etc. However, the fewer you have, the better. Fewer core values will make your life, purpose, and priorities clearer. Your core values are the most important things in your life. I have five core values, and they all start with the same letter, which helps me remember them: faith, family, friends, fitness, function. I also list them in order of importance.
Why do we need core values? Why can’t we just decide in the moment what we want to do? Because often we don’t know exactly what we want, and we let our impulsiveness get in the way of making strides toward our long-term goals. If we already know what we want out of life in the long term–the goals we have for our core values–then we will know how to make the decision in front of us to reach our goals. For example, let’s say I schedule a workout for 4 pm. However, at 4 pm I don’t feel like working out. I want to watch YouTube. I consult my core values, and I am reminded that fitness is one of my core values and watching YouTube is not. Therefore, I should accomplish my fitness – prioritize it higher – than watching YouTube. Here’s another example: Let’s say I get offered an evening job, Monday through Friday, from 5 pm to 8 pm. My family has dinner at 6:30 pm every night, so if I take the job, I will miss the family meal. Do I take or leave the job? According to my core values, my family is more important than my job. I choose to decline the job because I value my relationships with my family and the time spent with them more than the money I could make during that time.
So how can you find your own core values? Ask yourself questions. What do you want to have at the end of your life? Who do you want to have impacted? If you were to die tomorrow, what would be your legacy that you would leave, and are you confident and secure in you hope of life after death? Think about what you want out of life.
We all have core values, even if we are not aware of them. However, when you become aware of your core values and consciously put them into practice, you automatically make bigger strides toward your long term goals and accomplish the things that are the most important to you. So go identify your core values and accomplish your goals!