Do You Know Your Core Values? Here's A List Of 99 Important Ones To Help Find Yours
We all have things that we value deeply, whether we realize it or not. Perhaps for you, it's practicality over love—or maybe it's the other way around. Only you can know your core values, and by identifying them, you can make decisions that are in line with the person you are, and the person you're becoming.
Here's how to find your core values, plus an extensive list of common values to help you get started.
What are core values?
Core values are the principles that drive your life and shape who you are, according to licensed psychotherapist Babita Spinelli. As she tells mindbodygreen, core values act as our internal compass to help guide decisions, actions, life purpose, and what's important in our lives—and they're a fundamental part of our self-awareness and knowing ourselves.
"Our core values initially are informed by our early experiences and how we are raised, but that doesn’t mean they don’t evolve, change and develop," Spinelli adds, noting that it's important to always identify and understand your core values as they (and you) change.
And if our decisions and actions don't align with our core values, "we ultimately will find ourselves unfulfilled, disrespected, dissatisfied, and unable to live the better, healthier version of self," Spinelli explains. This can result in a negative toll on your emotional well-being and mental health, whether your core values are being sidelined by your own choices, your relationships, or your job.
How to identify your core values
There are a number of ways to identify core values, according to Spinelli, but she offers this 5-step framework that looks like this: but a common framework that often works looks like this:
- Look at a list of values. Find a good, extensive and thorough list of values (like the one bellow) and start digging through it.
- Identify the ones that resonate. From the list, identify the ones that feel most important and mark it with a 1 for most important, 2 for somewhat important, and 3 for least important. Narrow down your number 1's to six to eight values that feel like an absolute priority. To help you figure it out, Spinelli recommends asking yourself who a few people are that model what you inspires you, and look at your number 1's to see what matches.
- Know your heroes. You can also find your core values by thinking about your “heroes,” according to Spinelli, reflecting on what they embody, what they stand for, and how they embrace it.
- Notice your patterns. Being aware of your patterns that are healthy versus unhealthy can guide you in identifying your core values. You can learn about what you want and what doesn’t feel right to you in this process, Spinelli says, whether you reflect on family history, work with a therapist, etc.
- Assess whether you're happy. Ask yourself whether your experiences or choices are making you happy. If not, Spinelli notes, there are likely core values that aren’t being met in those decisions and situations.
Keep in mind, Spinelli adds, our core values can evolve and shift as we navigate different phases in our life. "New and challenging situations can also impact and add to our core values, [so] it’s important to continuously be conscious of your values and check on where you are with them."
47 personal core values
There are values we hold for our jobs and our relationships, and there are also fundamental, personal core values that overarch our entire life. And according to Spinelli, being aware of these values can guide us in making healthier choices, because you are driving decisions based on knowing what you want and what is important to you.
- Animal rights
30 relationship core values
In relationships, Spinelli says, it's just as important to understand your core values, because when you don't, it can lead to a lot of relationship struggles. "When our core values are in sync with our partners, it promotes a healthier, long lasting and fulfilling relationship," she explains, adding, "We are more congruent with our partners on long term life plans, dreams and goals."
- Ethical non-monogamy
- Personal time
- Quality time
- Reciprocal effort
- Shared goals
- Acts of service
- Physical touch
- Gender roles
- Emotional intelligence
22 workplace core values
We can't forget about values in the workplace! According to Spinelli, knowing your workplace values can help you not only identify the right job opportunities for you, but further help you navigate stressful work situations. And of course, when your values aren't in line with your job, you're likely going to feel unsupported or stressed.
"A company’s core values demonstrates what they prioritize," she explains, noting that if your core value is stability, for example, you would want a job that has a history of employees staying and growing consistently in the organization. "If you want life balance," she adds, "you would want to work in an environment that has work flexibility or doesn’t expect long daily or weekend hours."
- Clear directions
- Intellectual ownership
- Work-life balance
- Working alone
- Service to a cause
- Effective management
- Constructive criticism
What is the meaning of core values?
Core values are the principles that drive your life and shape who you are, acting as your internal compass to help guide decisions, actions, life purpose, and what's important in your life.
What are the 3 main core values?
There are no "main" core values—it entirely depends on the person. However, kindness, integrity, and love are likely high up on the list for many people.
With a little self-reflection, you can probably pinpoint which of these values resonate with you the most. Once you identify the main core values that mean the most to you, you can start making choices that are aligned with those values and live a life you feel proud of.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.