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Why You Need to Define Your Core Values

I started seeing this concept of “core values” on Pinterest about a month or so ago.  It seemed kind of silly to me, to be honest.  Don’t get me wrong, the idea of having personal core values is VERY relevant, but the concept that people needed help defining them, struck me as strange at first.  Then I realized something…. core values were an integral part of my childhood. A large portion of our lives was centered around our core values.  We went to church every Sunday and tried to live the core values outlined in the Bible.

Then, I started clicking on those posts that I saw on Pinterest and reading more.  It became clear to me why people needed help defining them.  It was more than “love thy neighbor, be faithful to your spouse, serve the Lord thy God with all your heart.”  While that is a VERY important part of defining your personal core values, it’s not everything.

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What are Core Values and Why are they Important?

Simply stated, core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization.  While that may be short definition, it speaks volumes.  Sometimes I find that a concept makes total sense to me, but when I go to apply them, I find myself confused.  Core values are important for the same reason that a compass would be important if you were navigating a boat in the ocean.  (In ancient times back before GPS and cell phones.)

Picture yourself and your trusty crew on a boat in the ocean.  As captain, you set the course for the ship.  You know where you want to go, chart it out on the map, and then you check your compass to make sure you steer the ship in the right direction.  That’s what core values do for our lives.  They help determine our course of right and wrong and help make sure that we are heading in the direction we want to go.

Sailing the High Seas of Life

Let’s go back to your ship.  You are standing on the deck and sail into a  terrible storm.  Your ship is tossed to and fro with howling winds and waves crashing over the deck.  You stand steadfastly at the wheel, shouting orders to your crew as you try to keep your ship from being overturned.  In the midst of the storm, the crashing waves on the deck sweep your compass away.

By morning, you are exhausted, but you and your crew have survived, along with the ship.  You witness the sun start to peek through the clouds and the once tumultuous sea is now as still as glass.  Then you realize… your compass is nowhere to be found and you have absolutely no idea what direction you are heading in!

Going through life without knowing what your core values are, is like sailing a ship on the sea without a compass.  You might know where you want to be, but you have no idea what direction you are heading in or where your ship will wind up.  Friends, there will always be storms in our lives that pop up from time to time.  I am willing to bet that you have gone through several yourself.  Unlike a flimsy compass, our core values are something that once defined, cannot be swept away from us. They will ultimately guide us through the storm.

Types of Core Values

From what I have been able to gather, everyone has a different opinion on core values.  That’s because core values are often very personal and each individual tailors their own.  Organizations also have core values.  Both individuals and businesses use their core values as compasses to guide and evaluate their decisions.  There are numerous lists of examples of core values for both business and personal

Core Values for Business

Ruth Soukup, who is a big name in the blogging world, was the first one that I heard talk about values for business.  Ruth runs a blogging school called EBA (short for elite blog academy) and she also has a team of people that work for her. Each time when a position opens, she’s usually faced with thousands of applicants.  After hearing her list of core values for her business, I can see why.  Every business, in my opinion, needs to realize that making money at any cost is not a #1 priority.

I am not a business professional, yet I cannot help but think how much better would work environments be if your place of employment valued its people above all else.  Things like being kind, families first, being committed to excellence, and quality could be examples of core values from the ideal workplace.  I know it’s not always like that, but imagine, if you were in charge, what the core values would be for your company.

Personal Core Values

When I think of the importance of core values, I usually think of personal core values.  What beliefs guide your life?  This takes some reflection to determine, and it’s not always easy.  Words like “core values” and “happiness” and “fulfillment” are easy to write, but the concepts and actual practice can be a bit hard.  When I think of my own personal core values, the first thing that comes to mind is my belief and service to God.  If I am trying to make a decision on what to do about something and I’m not sure if it’s the right thing or not, I pray about it, ask God for guidance.  Then I try to evaluate if it lines up with what HE would have me to do.  Core values are the framework on which we evaluate our choices.

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Determining Your Core Values and a List of Core Values

It takes some soul searching to find out which core values are important to you, especially if they are not something that you grew up hearing about.  What things are important to you?  When do you feel the most at peace with yourself?  What are the guiding principals that you want to live your life by?  Define your “why”.    Here are some examples, if you are having trouble getting started:

  1. Patience
  2. Practice kindness
  3. Work hard
  4. Always do your best
  5. Serve God to the best of your ability and put HIM first in all things (Faith)
  6. Family above work (I was going to put family first, but I try to put God first, and then family and everything else seems to fall into place.)
  7. Honesty
  8. Generosity
  9. Do all the good you can, when you can
  10. Dependability
  11. Loyalty
  12. Persistence
  13. Innovation (especially for companies)
  14. Stretch your comfort zones
  15. Never stop learning
  16. Optimism
  17. Respect
  18. Reliability
  19. Compassion
  20. Keep your sense of humor (helps relieve tension in stressful situations)
  21. Passion (for what you do and life in general)
  22. Adventure
  23. Try new things
  24. Flexibility
  25. Open-mindedness
  26. Authenticity
  27. Sincerity
  28. Approachability
  29. Fitness
  30. Neatness

This is a fairly short list, but hopefully, it is enough to get you started when you are trying to define your core values.  I have found a  more exhaustive list of core values if you still need some additional examples.

How I Determined the Core Values for Contentment Questing

When I started this blog, as I have told you in previous posts, I had no idea what I was doing, and the topics were pretty scattered at first.  It’s ok to start with baby steps if you don’t know what you are doing.  Baby steps are still steps and they still get you going forward.  The first thing that I did was tell my husband why I wanted to blog in the first place. I felt like I had lost a part of who l was, after quitting a teaching career to stay home with our kids, and then starting to tend to our elderly family member that was needing some extra help.  I needed something to refill my emotional bucket that was not just passing the time, but something that I felt gave value to other people.

Some of the core values I listed above, are my core values both for myself and for Contentment Questing. As I reflected on my reasons for wanting to start a blog and what I hoped to accomplish, I started to see some common themes.   I wanted to feel the passion again that made me feel alive when I was teaching.  I got that from helping other people and trying to encourage them.  When I started blogging, I felt that spark re-ignite!  (which was exciting!).  I also love learning, and I think that you are never too old to learn and it’s never too late to try or to fix a mistake.  I wanted to do so in an honest way that would stay true to who I am, and my belief and faith in God.

My Core Values for Contentment Questing

From my reflection, I was able to come up with the core values for Contentment Questing:

  1. Honesty
  2. Sincerity
  3. Authenticity
  4. Encouragement
  5. Helping and Inspiring others

Notice that the list is not that long.  While I would LOVE to have a list of core values a mile long, I’m not sure that I could keep all of them if the list is too long for me to remember.  When you are defining your core values, pick a few.  A list of 30 is too long to remember.  I’d say no more than 5-10.

Some core values can be included in others.  For example, my faith is not one of the 5 that I listed above, however, if I’m being sincere and authentic, then in some posts I can’t help but mention God because that’s where a lot of my encouragement and strength comes from, especially when I am struggling.  When I sat down to write The Pearl Perspective: How Changing Your Perspective Can Change Your Life”  I made sure that it aligned with those core values.

How My Core Values have Guided Some of My Decisions

Some time back, I was approached by a company that offered to guest post on the blog and would pay me a small amount (Very small amount) to do so. They did not ask for any acknowledgment, so it could have been more like a ghostwritten post, which confused me.   I could find nothing wrong with the offer on the surface, but my gut feeling was screaming “Nooo!”  I heard the offer out and asked for more information while I did some research on my own.   From what I could tell the offer was legit.  They would write a  post for my blog, I would approve posts or not, and they would pay me for what was published.

However, there were some red flags that I was not comfortable with.  They wanted the material posted ASAP, as in… that day if possible.   In my opinion, did not convey respect for me or my normal posting schedule.  Let’s face it when a blog post goes out is not a matter of life and death.  As I did more research I discovered that their company was employed by other people to build up domain authority for their clients by posting on other blogs with links back to their clients.  Problem: from what others said, it would have undermined mine.  The post and the whole situation did not seem honest to me, nor sincere, nor authentic.

Not true to my core values

I wrote them back and refused to publish their post, and told them that I was no longer interested in hearing from them.  I received another email back from them, seemingly automated that looked quite like the first asking if I could approve this other post right away and how they would appreciate it, and so on.  Again, I refused and told them I wished to be permanently removed from their list.  The next email that I received from them was incredibly polite and acknowledged my removal from their list.  I would LOVE guest posts on Contentment Questing from other bloggers.  However,  I will not publish one that is not sincere or authentic.  I value my readers way too much for that.


Core values help to guide our choices.  They are the guiding principles of our lives, much like a compass helped to guide a ship before GPS.  It takes some heart-felt reflection to determine what yours should be and it’s best to not choose too many.  You can only stay true to so many principles at a time.  The right core values in your life will give you peace in knowing that your life is headed in the right direction.  A storm or two may get in your way from time to time, but you will know which direction to go once it clears.

Now let’s hear from you!  What are your core values?  How did you determine them?

If you are interested in more about my book, “The Pearl Perspective,” you can find more information on it, or buy it from Amazon.  It is available in both paperback and Kindle editions.

Be sure to check out my other books as well: Self Discipline in 6 Weeks and The 5 Minute Productivity Journal! 

God bless and Happy Questing!

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