2 Paths to Discovering Your Core Values


The beginning of 2017, yes just this year, was a pivotal time for me. For quite some time before this year things had felt off. Life had lost it’s luster and the days blurred together. Sure there was still happiness and laughter, don’t get me wrong here.  Depression comes in many forms. I’m talking the grind of cooking and cleaning and serving and just well…doing, but never feeling like I was getting anywhere. Like I just survived each day. I felt like I was battling to stay on top of everything. From home and family to church to friends and neighbors I was just a woman doing and not being. I felt lost and my drive to keep going was fizzling out. And then two a-ha moments offered me a life line.  A beacon if you will. I don’t think looking back that they were happenstance. In fact I know they weren’t.

I’ve knelt in thankful prayer many a night for this open window.

A-ha moment #1:My husband devours business/entrepreneur/self starter type books.  He’s a go getter that one. Anyway, he was reading out of one of them one day- and sharing with me as usual- and was relating something about the need for established core values in a company. Core values? That struck a cord for some reason and I googled it. I began reading about personal core values. About living your life by your own rubric. About knowing EXACTLY what YOU value and living by it.

A-ha moment #2: Not too long after the first a-ha we went out to a beautiful island off of South Carolina for my husband’s family reunion. One night was a family meeting after the kids went to bed and it was all about our family values. About establishing our core values as a family unit, what we stand for, and raising our children accordingly. There it was again. Values. Leaving me speechless at that meeting, but lost in thought and wonder and intrigue.

I began to dive into articles and books about values and living better and more intentionally. The scriptures teach about priorities and living with purpose, but I had struggled to really know how to merge my personal .  A lot of what is out there is about living simply and on purpose. I dove into resource after resource. I came across a pattern:

“If you want to clarify your own life goals, my advice is to start by examining yourself. Get a strong grip on your talents, abilities, and weaknesses and on the issues that get your blood boiling. To facilitate this, grab a sheet of paper and write out your answers to these questions:

  1. What experiences, both good and bad, have shaped your life?
  2. What similarities can you recognize in your most notable achievements? – from “The More of Less” by Joshua Becker

“If we aren’t perfectly clear about what is most important in our lives, it is easy to be swayed by anything that comes our way. Without a precise road map to guide us in knowing exactly what matters most of all, it is nearly impossible to combat the idea that something new is somehow better than what we already have. What would happen if we took the time to actually write down our current priorities? How would our perspective change if we took just a few moments to determine what it is we want most out of life?…Finding your sweet spot often involves a messy process of finding and then learning to embrace the God-given talents and aptitudes you already have rather than the ones you only wish you had. It means taking the time to discover what you are truly good at and enjoy, then figuring out how to merge that talent and those abilities with the ideas and dreams and pursuits you are most passionate about.” -from “Living Well Spending Less” by Ruth Soukup

“What does it mean to live a meaningful life? Generally, through our essays and books, we speak of minimalism as a tool that has allowed us to pursue more meaningful lives, so its important we define what this means. After much cerebration, deliberation, discussion, research, and experimentation, we discovered Five Values that allow us to live a meaningful life…” -from “Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life” by Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus

Do you see that pattern I saw?

Figuring out what makes you tick, about what drives you individually is the keystone to living more intentionally. It all hinges on knowing that about yourself. I began book after book and part way in that theme would surface. How did I ever think I was going to decide what went in or out of my house, my body, my mind, my calendar….without having a rubric to guide me?! I was going to end up right where I started. I needed to figure out what was important to me, now, and let it flow from the inside out.

So here we go!! I had to share a bit of that up there so you would know why this is Month 1 Challenge. I’m on this journey too and I am going to share with you exactly what I am learning and discovering! In preparation for this experiment I realized that finding out my core values was the very very first step before I could move on to all the nitty gritty purging and cleaning and centering.

Month 1 of the 360° in 360 Days Challenge

I am going to offer two paths to go about completing this month’s challenge.

The first was how I went about finding out my values- which was arduous I’ll tell ya- but very rewarding. It was the only way I was going to figure it out because I was truly lost! If you are like me a struggle to align what you know you want with your daily life, then you may want to dig deep and take some real time to figure it out. That is how I started.

I call it Reflect, Ask, Refine. (link here)

So there is that way.

This second option might be for those of you, perhaps everyone but me, who have a sense of who you are and what matters to you and just need to clarify and purposefully write down those values to help you on this journey.

In another book I picked up titled “The Values Factor” by Dr. John Demartini he outlines in chapter 2 some concise but great exercises. Honestly I think these helped me in conjunction with the more in depth study.

First make a little list of sentences that all begin with “I love to…” and then fill it in. Maybe try 5 to 10 I love statements. I love to go out with friends/family. I love to cook. I love to teach. I love to watch movies. (those are me…you do you!)

Next he has you answer 13 questions to reveal what matters in your life so you can identify what you value. Move down on your page from your loves and answer these. They are:

  1. How do you fill your space? (like what is in your house, car etc. Media? books? trophies, family pictures, furniture, souvenirs?)
  2. How do you spend your time?
  3. How do you spend your energy? (like if you are exhausted at night what is the one or two things you would stay up doing or get up early to do?)
  4. How do you spend your money?
  5. Where are you most organized?
  6. Where are you most reliable?
  7. What dominates your thoughts?
  8. What do you visualize most?
  9. What do you most often talk to yourself about?(yep. time to admit that internal dialogue)
  10. What do you most often talk to others about?
  11. What inspires you?
  12. What goals stand out in your life and have stood the test of time?
  13. What topics do you love to study, read about, or research?

With both of these exercises the final steps are the same. Look for patterns. Look for repeating themes and then try to narrow those themes into one or two words- or even a supporting phrase. Wanting to be accepted (or fearing not being accepted!), or a sense of belonging might be a center value of community or relationships.

Keep pondering and refining until you narrow down to perhaps 5 core or top values. Keep going back to your list. Keep making notes of possible values. The top 5 will begin to emerge as you ponder and pray about it. You can have a few more outlying values or even aspirational ones that you keep mentioned somewhere because we are all changing and growing and morphing! They might inspire you. But get those core values up somewhere. Keep drafting until you look at your list and feel at home. It will change over time, but right now is right now. Be you. Get started and don’t look back.


There is infinite value in values!

Want to know my 5 core values? I didn’t list them here becuause I want you to really search for yours. Don’t be swayed by others or by what society thinks is good. Keep those aspirational values on the wing. If you are just curious what mine are you can find them here.

Now go find yours!

Is there a value you discovered that surprised you? A new way of looking at why you do the things you do? Please share! I am where I am because of those who shared.




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