Imagine you are in a job interview. The person across the desk says, “What values matter most to you?” If you’ve never thought about your core values before, this can be a really challenging question. Taking time to understand what matters to you and what your driving principles are can help you grow and move forward in many ways.
You can better understand if a job opportunity is the right fit for you. You can better understand the people around you and align yourself with those who share similar values. And you can better understand what motivates you every day and find things that align. But how do you figure out what those core values are?
Describe Yourself to Yourself.
Start off by making a list of words you would use to describe yourself. These can be words or phrases like loyal, honest, strong, dependable, passionate, funny, active, creative, or service to others. Challenge yourself to think of at least 15 words so you have to think a bit. Then ask your friends and family to describe you and see what words match up and what new descriptions come up. These words and phrases that consistently come up are your core values.
Pay Attention to Your Decisions.
Many times we can see what matters most to us by the decisions we make. For instance, did you turn down an invite from friends to go to family dinner? Family oriented is likely a strong core value for you. Are you constantly choosing to help others with something going on or volunteering your time for organizations? Service to others is a strong core value for you. Are you the friend or family member that everyone calls for a friendly ear and a shoulder to lean on? Dependable and loyal are core values for you.
Look at Those People and Organizations You Admire.
There’s a good chance you’ve aligned yourself with friends, organizations and opportunities that reflect those values that matter to you. Look at some of your closest friends and describe them. Notice what values you feel that you both share. Do the same to your favorite stores, organizations and brands. Everyone has core values they are working to live by. If you value service to others, you likely aren’t going to support or work for an organization or brand who doesn’t have some kind of commitment to the community. You also likely won’t have tons of friends who don’t return the favor and help you when you need it.
The goal of understanding your core values is to create a filter where you can sift out the things that matter to you and where you feel like your most authentic self. Look at all your opportunities through the lens of these words and feelings to ensure you are doing things that fit with who you are and what you care about.