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How to Easily Identify Your Core Values in 15 minutes

Core values - What are they?

Even if you’ve never written down your core values before, I can show you how to do it in less than 15 minutes. 

I can help you define and identify your existing core values, even if you don’t believe they exist. 

I will explain the benefits you will gain from this exercise. 

Are you ready to begin? 

What are core values? 

Core values are traits or qualities that represent your highest priorities, deeply held beliefs that influence your actions and interactions with others. 

Every day you act on your priorities. For example, you go to work instead of the beach because you prioritize earning enough money to pay rent. 

You have some deeply held beliefs about the world that are important to you. An example of this might be whether or not you or others should wear a facemask or receive a covid 19 vaccine. How you feel about the pandemic will be reflected in your behavior with others. 

The question is not whether we have core values; our lives give ample evidence to their existence. The real question is whether we can identify them. 

Three Questions To Help You Identify Your Core Values. 

I believe three simple questions can help us identify our core values. 

First, what prompts us into action? Second, where do we invest our time, talents, and energy? Third, what do we admire about our role models?

Are you ready to dive in and see what your actual core values are? 

What do our actions and reactions reveal about our core values? 

What is it that prompts us to act or react? 

What happened during the pandemic that caused you to react quickly and passionately?

If your house was burning down, what would you take from it?

“Every action is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.” A quote from Atomic Habits by James Clear. An excellent book that provides practical steps to modify habits and behavior.

Where do we invest our time, talents, and energy?

Limited resources lead to limited choices.

Are our values in line with our use of time, talent, and energy?

An analysis of our use of resources will tell us what we value. 

It’s not too late to change our behaviors to reflect what we feel should be a core value. 

“Your priorities are a reflection of what you value. By watching how you spend your time, you can get a grasp on what you put the first day after day,” says Melody Wilding. Human Behavior Professor, Hunter College.    

What do you admire about your role models? 

Try this exercise: make a list of the people you admire. 

Then look at the list. What is it about that individual that you admire? 

What does this tell you about who you want to become?  

What are you willing or unwilling to sacrifice to make this transformation happen?

Once you’ve completed these questions, you’ll have a realistic set of core values. 

This list of core values is not aspirational; it is authentic. It reflects what you value.

Are you happy with your core values? 

If you are happy with your core values, what can you do to strengthen and improve them? Conversely, if you are unhappy, are there actions and behaviors you need to abandon or adopt? 


It can provide a remedy for your decision fatigue and stress.  Recent research has shown that we have a finite capacity for making decisions. That as the day progresses, our brain suffers from fatigue in making decisions. If our values are predetermined, they will reduce the stress in making decisions and bring clarity. If one path supports my core values and the other does not, the decision should be easier and less stressful.

“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” – Roy Disney (1893 – 1971), Walt Disney’s Elder Brother his Efforts’ Financier.

The act of writing down your core values can improve your physical and emotional health. According to Stanford Professor Kelly McGonigal, in her book, The Upside of Stress, “It turns out that writing about your values is one of the most effective psychological interventions ever studied. Writing about personal values makes people feel more powerful, in control, proud, and strong in the short term. It also makes them feel more loving, connected, and empathetic toward others. It increases pain tolerance, enhances self-control, and reduces unhelpful rumination after a stressful experience”‘


 Are your actions and use of resources supporting your stated core values? If not, what steps will you take to change them? 

Interested in my core values?

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This article was initially published in October 2019 but has been updated.

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