“We don’t have to be perfect, just engaged and committed to aligning values with actions.”
— Brené Brown
Another aspect of knowing yourself is recognizing your core values — what you believe and hold important in life. Recognizing your core values is foundational to practicing those values. After all, you may not always practice your values if you’re not clear on what they are.
Why Knowing Your Values Is Important to Goal Setting
Knowing your values allows you to ensure your goals are aligned with those values. This is important because the road to achieving your goals is filled with challenges and setbacks. When your goals align with your values, your commitment to them is stronger and you are more likely to persist in the face of obstacles.
As sports psychologist Jim Afremow discusses, “Goals are all about what’s coming tomorrow, next month, or next race season. Sometimes, we can waver from them because they seem too distant. That’s where our behaviors and habits can be informed by core values that help us identify the most important things in our lives and then double down on our commitment to them.”
How to Identify Your Core Values
In her book, Dare to Lead, Brené Brown walks through an exercise to help us identify our core values so we can then live into them.
The exercise starts by looking at a list of over 100 values to which you can add any that you feel are missing. Your task is to winnow that list down to the two values that are most important to you. Not 10 or 15, but two.
If you’re up for the challenge, here’s how to do the exercise. You can do this on a piece of paper or in the workbook for this course.
- Start with the list of values on Brown’s website.
- Highlight all the values that resonate with you. You may have identified up to a few dozen at this point.
- Organize those values into a handful of categories by placing similar values together. Within each cluster of like values, place one at the top as the organizing value that represents the cluster. This may leave you with up to a half dozen values at this point.
- From those handful of values, narrow your choices down to two values. Remember, these two values may headline lists of sub-values related to them. But these two are your core values.
- With your two core values identified, write a sentence that communicates each of these two values. Use the list of related values you categorized under those two core values to help you articulate what those two core values mean to you.
Equipped with self-awareness of your core values, now go live those values in your everyday life.
As Brown writes, “Living into our values means that we do more than profess our values, we practice them. We walk our talk—we are clear about what we believe and hold important, and we take care that our intentions, words, thoughts, and behaviors align with those beliefs.”
The workbook provides templates for all of the practical applications in the course. Download here if you haven’t already:
- Practical Application Workbook (Google Doc)
For an example of this exercise in action, see this blog post by Colin Breck.