Most people have goals that they want to accomplish in life. You may make New Year's resolutions at the start of each January. Perhaps you have a bucket list of the big things you want to make sure you do before you die. When you are asked where you see yourself in five or 10 years in an interview, you have an answer ready to go.
The goals you are most likely to reach are those that correspond to your most important beliefs. Your core values are the elements that you consider your highest priorities. Oddly enough, if asked, many people would not be able to list these important themes off the top of their head. If you want some clarity in this area, following these five steps can increase your ability to articulate your core values more easily.
You probably need to look no further than your faith to find a whole slew of virtues that your belief system considers important. The first step to refining your personal core values is to list as many things as possible that you consider essential to living a good and ethical life. It's ok to start with a big list. If you have trouble coming up with anything, a quick internet search can reveal lists that others have made. While your own ethics are very personal, it's likely that enough people share similar views that you should be able to come up with a meaningful list this way.
Once you have a robust list, take some time to think about the people you admire. What are the things you like most about them? The answers to that question probably align with the traits you consider most valuable in a person. This step helps you whittle down your large list of values as the things you love most in others rise to the surface.
Next, look at your own behaviors. Chances are that you are already acting in ways that reflect your values, even if you haven't fully articulated exactly what they are. Think of the responsibilities that you have that bring you the most joy. Conversely, think of those that seem like nothing more than drudgery or obligation. How you feel when you work toward a goal often reveals how much that effort reflects what's important to you.
It's possible that you still have a pretty big list at this point, particularly if you are heavily involved in your church and community. Many values intersect, so it can be hard to separate them into separate issues to determine their relative worth to you. To further hone your focus, consider seeking the guidance of a life coach, career counselor or spiritual advisor. They have the tools and experience to help you identify the things that really matter to you. A life values inventory may also be helpful if you don't have the time or resources to seek professional assistance.
At the end of your reflection, it's finally time to choose your core values. Don't let this stress you out. Making this list doesn't mean that you don't care about anything else; it just helps you narrow your focus to what is most important to you. Keep in mind that it's also highly probable that your core values will change throughout your life. Those that drive your decisions in your 20s are not likely to be the same things that still motivate you in your 50s. After a major transition, it's a good idea to reevaluate to see if anything has changed.
It's good to know what is important to you. Finding your core values can help you not only set goals that you are more likely to achieve but also can give you a greater sense of overall satisfaction in life.