DISCOVERING YOUR 6 CORE VALUES

Explaining why you need to know your 6 Core Values and how they apply to your decision making process. #midlife #values

WHAT DRIVES OUR DECISION MAKING?

As anyone who reads my blog knows, I've been thrashing around what to do next with my life. I talk about it a lot with my husband and I think he'd finally been talked to death, because he suggested I look at my core values because they'd help me to see why I was vacillating so much in my decision making.

I had no idea what my core values were or where to begin the process of narrowing down to my Top six. That's where being married to a Family Counsellor comes into play. He happens to own a deck of "Values" cards from ACT Mindfully that look like this: 

Values cards from ACT Mindfully - used to determine your core values

DETERMINING YOUR CORE VALUES

There is a process you work through with the cards to determine your top half dozen values. You could do the same by using a Core Values List from somewhere like THIS and whittling the list down to your top 20 and from there you choose your top 10 and from those you narrow it down to your Top 6 Core Values - and even the Top 3 if you want to drill down further.

It seems a bit daunting when you start, but as you get into the process it becomes a really interesting exercise. The thing you're trying to figure out is what your values are at this moment in time. Our values stay the same, but some slide further up or down the list depending on the time of life you're in and the circumstances you're dealing with.

MY TOP 6 CORE VALUES

After narrowing down my list, these are the six core values that are important to me right now FLEXIBILITY, AUTHENTICITY, FREEDOM, COURAGE, HONESTY, and MINDFULNESS. None of these overly surprised me, but I believe Flexibility and Freedom made the top 3 because they're on my mind a lot at the moment - I obviously have a strong need to not be squashed into an unworkable environment again.

Determining my six core values from the ACT Mindfully Values card deck

HOW TO APPLY YOUR 6 CORE VALUES

Once I picked my top contenders, I wasn't sure what they actually meant when applied to my questions about what to do to move forward with my life. This is when my husband asked me a few valuable questions that well and truly turned on a light in my head. The first question was "Could you hold these values if you returned to your old job?" and my answer was of course, a resounding "No". The next question was harder "How can you live these values out in planning what comes next?"

I didn't have an answer to this question, but one that came up in response was "Why do I feel like I don't deserve those top 3 values?" And "Why do I feel like I only have value if I'm earning a wage and contributing financially?" I actually became a little bit teary as I tried to figure it all out and apparently that's because something deeper in me was being challenged - and the next question is "Where did this feeling of unworthiness and lacking in value stem from?" So many unexpected questions and a complete inability to answer them in a way that made sense.

RE-TRAINING MY INNER VOICE

Apparently the secret to moving through these difficult questions is to create a different thought pattern about worthiness and value. Holy Cow! That was a big one for me, but it's more straightforward than I imagined. To change unhealthy thinking, we need to create a replacement thought that challenges the unhealthy belief we're carrying inside us. So, we acknowledge how we're feeling, but we choose instead to live according to our values rather than letting that negative feeling drive us. 

So, basically what I'd say to myself is: "I recognize that I feel like I don't deserve to be at home and I should be doing a tedious 9-5 job, BUT freedom and the flexibility are my top core values, so I choose to not start working again in a job that takes them away from me." It doesn't preclude me from exploring what else might be out there waiting for me, but it allows me to give myself permission to stay home for as long as it suits me, without feeling the need to take any job that comes along so that I can earn the almighty dollar. What a relief!

THINGS CAN CHANGE

As I mentioned previously, the order of our core values can change. If I'd done this exercise a year ago, freedom and flexibility may not have been in my top 3, but because they're so important to me right now, they've crept up the list. I need to honour that order and acknowledge the importance I've placed on them at this time of my life. They're probably up the top because I finally have time to devote to them, so it's even more important that I make them a priority.

Everyone's Top 6 Core Values will be different - we all come from different backgrounds and life experiences, but what's important is that we honour those values. We need to figure out what they are and then use them to drive our decision making so that our heart and head are in sync with each other. If we ignore our values then conflict and confusion result and we're caught in the crossfire. Defining what we value and then acting upon those values brings clarity and direction - something I was sorely in need of.

If  we ignore our core values then conflict and confusion result and we're caught in the crossfire. LLC #inspirationalquotes

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Are you struggling with any conflicting decisions in your life at the moment? Do you know what your core values are? Do you think your priorities are aligned with your values? If you're not sure, maybe take a look at the list I linked earlier in the post and have a think about what you value at this time of your life.

RELATED POSTS


Explaining why you need to know your 6 Core Values and how they apply to your decision making process. #midlife #values

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Explaining why you need to know your 6 Core Values and how they apply to your decision making process. #midlife #values


57 comments

  1. I love this - and am going to do the exercise. I suspect freedom & flexibility will top my list too...

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    1. I was surprised when they were so high on the list Jo - but I think my mind (and soul) were telling me that I never wanted to be trapped in a toxic situation - like the one I'd escaped from - ever again. And I'm going to listen carefully to what inner me is saying!

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  2. It's always a good idea to examine your values, whether you are undergoing a life change or not. I am going to have a look at the list and see if I can select my top 6 and maybe even my top 3. Your hubby gave you some great advice!

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    1. I liked that it gave me a different way of looking at my situation and a way forward through the "should I?" questions that had been spinning around inside my head. I think it's a great exercise for anyone to do - and maybe to do it every few years to see how the order changes.

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  3. I love this! I have been going through a lot of changes myself. More like a spiritual journey. I have been mediating for a little over a year now and it has changed my life. To the point my core values have changed for the better. Good for you. Great read.

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    1. I was surprised at a few that were in my top 6 - and it really brought home how damaged I'd been by the toxicity I'd been embroiled in for the last few years. The sheer joy of being free of it certainly pushed a freedom and flexiblity to the top of the list! I'm glad you're figuring things out too - it's so good when our lives get back on track isn't it?

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  4. Husband and I have been wondering what to do when we grow up for decades. It's tough. I love this idea. Harnessing the inner voice especially.

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    1. I'm back to Square One for wondering "what's next?" and it's strangely freeing and yet a little bit scary too. Weird to have life do a back flip and then to figure out where to head from there - but in a good way that I'm really coming to love.

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  5. Fascinating Leanne! It is logical that our values change but being flexible and honest one can embrace these changes!

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    1. I thought they'd be written in stone Haralee, and I think most of them are, but the order swings around when you have a bit of an upheaval. I like how mine had a few surprises tossed into the mix - it certainly gave me some clarity after all the uncertainty.

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  6. This is so interesting! I am going to do this exercise as well.

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    1. Go for it! And I'd love to know what you come up with x

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  7. Hi Leanne, Amazing advice from your husband. You remind me of reading where indecision is far more stressful than making a decision. Although, these life decisions are complex. I like how you say "values are at this moment in time.". Using the word "squashed" speaks volumes. I plan to reflect on what values I need to honour. I appreciate your candor. A relatable, thought-provoking post:) Erica

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    1. Thanks Erica - I found it really strange to see Flexibility and Freedom featuring so strongly - not ones I would have consciously chosen, but obviously my inner self felt that they needed some attention. I'll definitely be applying them to any future decisions I make before leaping into something that I feel trapped in again.

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  8. This is just great Leanne. When I have some time I'm going to do the exercise too . What a handy husband you have! I can understand the teariness, it seems to be an emotional time for you in lots of ways. Wishing you well and what a great start you've made in figuring how to move on. Love it!

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    1. Thanks Deb - it might be helpful for you with your Midlife Mojo questions. I think we get left a little adrift when we have a decision made for us that wasn't in our timing or control. I have no second thoughts about leaving - the further away I get from it all, the better I feel, but it still left me floundering for a while and having something to ask my questions around was really helpful.

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    2. I had similar thoughts about the fact that the decision was made for me! I am so glad you have no second thoughts about it all. Sharing for #mlstl

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  9. Thank you so much for this post! I am a relatively new reader of your blog and am in a similar life stage as you are. I appreciate you sharing the links to the list of values.

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    1. I'm so glad you found me and hopefully we'll ride out this stage of life together. I'm choosing to look at it as a growing experience - one that has taught me some valuable lessons about myself and what I'm prepared to bend on and where the line in the sand is!

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  10. wow...I haven't done something like this since I was working and even then that was a few years ago. I will certainly do this.

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    1. I was surprised at my results Bree - it's not what I expected, but was actually more accurate than if I'd consciously chosen the top six cards - the subconscience is a pretty smart cookie!

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  11. Interesting. Not sure if I think you have core values or situational values. I sometimes have strong opinions on things but if you put them together,they're opposite - yet unbudging on each situation. Interesting. Need to think aobut it more.

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    1. I wondered the same thing Lydia - then I thought maybe we have a number of core values and some rise to the surface dependant on our situations? All six of mine were things I stand on but the order was a surprise for me.

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  12. I really enjoyed reading about the process you went through to identify your core values, Leanne. I went through a similar exercise several years ago and identified health/fitness, joy, growth/learning, and love as my core values. I may spend some time re-evaluating to see if anything has changed for me. Thanks for the inspiration. #MLSTL

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    1. I'd like to re-do the exercise in a year Christie and see if they've changed at all. I think freedom and flexibility rose to the top because they're so important to me right now after what I've been through. When I'm more settled they may go down the order a little, but at the same time they've made me consider their value more.

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  13. Hi Leanne - Helpful advice from your husband. I hope the exercise makes it easier for you to figure out your next steps. #MLSTL

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    1. I'm hoping so too Natalie - they've made me see that I could never go back to a similar situation againn - being trapped in that toxicity has really impacted on the way I view my life choices and having the strength to say "No" much sooner in future!

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  14. Seems like we wrote about similar things this time at MLSTL. I think you explain your point about identifying and discovering core values well. Good luck with your journey. Hang in there for yourself!

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    1. Hi Nancy - I noticed the similarities too - obviously this is something that Midlife makes us consider - a little bit of re-evaluation never goes astray!

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  15. I did this too via ACT when reading Russ Harris' book on Happiness Trap. I loved the cards idea. Much more visual. I found what my core values were and they certainly match when I realised where I was coming from. Great plan from your Mr! I too am married to a counsellor but needed to say a while back, just be my husband for a bit too. We are both fortunate. Denyse #mlstl

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    1. I like that my husband can turn his "counsellor self" on and off - I think he was a bit over all my soul searching and was trying to provide me with something concrete to centre my thought processes - it was certainly really helpful. He loves the Happiness Trap and all ACT - and has been to a seminar or two with Russ Harris.

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  16. I've re-looked at my core values a few times since I retired and they have stayed pretty consistent. When I created my life vision, I used my values, strengths, and interests as the foundation. Then, when I think about things to do, I can review them versus that vision...which is based on values. So it actually has helped me make some choices (both to do and to stop doing).

    It's interesting to see your values also. I'd never have flexibility or courage even in my top 20!

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    1. I didn't think that flexibility and freedom were as important as the exercise showed Pat, but on reflection, I can see that they've risen to the top because they were areas where I'd lost my power and didn't ever want to be put in that position again. I think I'll do a re-take in a year and see what floats to the surface then.

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  17. I'm bookmarking this as I keep reading it and nodding but need to do through the list. I 'think' I know what my values are but wonder if they've moved a little as I've lived via some trial and error over recent years.

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    1. I thought I knew mine too Deb - the authenticity one wasn't a surprise, but a few of the others were definitely featuring because my inner "me" has finally put them where they should be instead of compromising on them all the time like I did in that job.

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  18. This is so cool. I will bookmark it and refer to it. Very nice. Love it. Something I really need to do. #MLSTL

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    1. It's an interesting exercise Patrick - even going down the list and circling the ones that stand out and then culling them down is worth a few minutes of your time.

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  19. Hi Leanne
    My daughters and I did this and it was so enlightening! I'm hoping this exercise gave you clarity for making future decisions. Stick to those core values!
    -Theresa
    fabinyourfifties.com

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    1. They certainly spoke strongly to me Theresa and have given me some clarity (like you mentioned) as far as what I'll accept and reject in my future decisions. I know I'd never lock myself into a full-time job, or stay somewhere that stifled me - knowing what's important to me will definitely be a help down the track.

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  20. It sounds like this was a great and valuable activity for you. Your husbands card deck may also have saved you a lot of therapy fees! I did something similar when I left my job. I do believe that there is work that you can do that aligns with your values and is not soul sucking! Be choosy if you go back to work.

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    1. I think I'm finally coming out of the tunnel Michele and thinking about whether there's work out there that would align with what those cards showed me. They've given me a bit of a compass as to whether the direction I'm heading in "feels right" rather than blindly stumbling into something that isn't all it seems - no more sucky jobs for me!

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  21. Wow, I think I need to consult with your husband! lol I'm not sure what my top six core values would be but it would be interesting to find out. Maybe if I'd done this, I'd have a little more clarity about things now instead of still being confused as to what it is I want to do!

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    1. You should print off the list I linked in the post Min - circle the values that "speak" to you and then narrow the list down from there - it'd be interesting to see what you come up with.

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  22. Even though I didn't have this information in front of me a year ago, I think the shift in my core values (and the ability to listen to them) are the reason I gave up my profitable business in Florida, and moved back to MI to be with family. It was a tough move for me, but I knew in my heart it was right. Very thought provoking post!

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    1. Hi Candi - isn't it interesting what we learn by listening to our gut instead of doing what's expected of us by the world's standards. I've come to see that money isn't my driving force any more - selling my soul wasn't good for me at all (surprise!) Now it's about what engages my mind and what feels right - rather than what makes money. I think you made the right choice - family first always xx

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  23. Hi Leanne,
    I love that your core values process was sparked by your husband. And it certainly did open a "can of worms" didn't it? Our core values do move around and you've hit on an interesting exercise to get them prioritized and out in the open. You have a great luxury in taking the time to decide what is right for you and don't need an immediate paycheck to pay the bill.s
    Love #MLSTL sharing on sm.

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    1. I'm so grateful that we've lived frugally for so long and money isn't a driving factor in this recovery process. I've really needed this time to sort myself out, get over the stress, and to decide what feels right for me - rather than what I felt I "should" be doing. Who knows? I might go back to work eventually, but it will be somewhere that feels like home - not somewhere that constantly gives me a headache!

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  24. Hi BBB, what an excellent post and you are fortunate to have Ross to talk to not only as your life partner but someone who actually knows about the subject. Our core values are so important if we want to live our lives authentically and they help us understand who we are and what we want - our Why? Although leaving your job was scary you have grown so much during the last three months and it really was the best decision for you. You are doing the right thing working through your thoughts and not rushing to find something to fill the void financially. Love this and sharing on SM. #MLSTL

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    1. Hi Sue - you've been such a help to me as I've tried to figure my way through this. I thought at the beginning that I'd hit the bottom and wasn't sure where "up" was anymore, the exercise gave me a few tangibles to work from and having a starting point for my "Why?" as you put it so perfectly - was a real turning point for me. Anyway, onward and upward and hopefully forward too :) xx

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  25. The comment that really stood out for me, Leanne was "without feeling the need to take any job that comes along so that I can earn the almighty dollar." - that is a huge piece of "freedom" to relish and appreciate.
    I'm wondering how many emails your husband will be getting from your readers asking for a "session"!! :-)

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    1. I think one Midlife woman is all he can handle atm Agnes ;) but you're right about the freedom of not "having" to work. I don't think I'd realized how stable we were until I had to step back and re-evaluate. Maybe this is the end of work and maybe it's not, but it's been wonderful not feeling the pressure to help with the bills for a change!

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  26. I will definitely need to do this. Although we've been through a big move, I'm feeling a little stuck right now. I need to figure out my new direction to go with my new location.

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    1. It's funny how a life upheaval gives us a moment to pause and re-think things Jennifer. Why not print off that list I linked and circle all the values that appeal. Then cull them down and then cull them down again and see what you're left with? I'd be interested to know what your top 6 are now. :)

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  27. Hi Leanne. For whatever it's worth, in my opinion, you are doing enough right now. Don't you realize how many lives you touch with your blog? You help a lot of people including myself. Maybe you need more, and of course that's a personal choice, but you really do get through to people with your writing. Who knows, maybe you'll write a book someday. I know you're still struggling with what you want to do with your life, but I want you to know, for your readers, it's enough to be doing what you are doing, right now.

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    1. Christina that was such a lovely thing to read. I do struggle with the whole "what's next?" question and my blog has been a life saver for the connections and for having a place to work through all these changes. I'm so glad you think it makes a difference for you and for others (I doubt myself way too often in this area). I'd love to think that sharing and connecting goes both ways because it's brought me such joy and I love the friendships I've made along the way (aren't we all so cosmopolitan and global!) xxx

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Thanks so much for your comment - it's where the connection begins.