Do you know what you value most in life?
If I were to slide a piece of paper and a pen across the desk right this second and ask you to list out your top 5 to 10 core values, would you be able to write them down without much hesitation?
Can you answer these?
Just for fun, let’s do a short Quiz:
Q1: What is the #1 core value that drives all your decisions and behaviours? Please write it out in a sentence.
Q2: Why is that your top value?
Q3: What other values comprise your list of top 10?
Q4: What short- or mid-term financial and life goals are you currently working on?
Q5: How are those goals tied to your bigger-picture goals?
Q6: Are your goals congruent with your top values?
Q7: Will your current set of goals and values lead you to the long-term financial and life results you want?
Q8: Are your behaviours consistent with your values or is there a gap?
Q9: How do you currently determine the best use for your money?
Q10: How do you currently determine the best use for your time?
How’d you do?
Was that a piece of cake? Did the answers roll off your tongue or your pen with ease?
Why is that?
It seems like it should be super easy to list off our top values. Surely, we know what matters to us.
And we do – to some extent.
We know that we like people with integrity.
We know that we would do just about anything to support our nearest and dearest.
But beyond those and a few more easy lob balls, it gets tricky.
Here’s the thing about identifying core values: it’s a simple concept, but it’s not easy to pull off.
In my last post, you read part of my story about coming back from a staggering amount of debt. When I finally paid off the last bill, I realized I had no clue what I wanted or what mattered to me beyond the basics.
What followed was ten years of work. Really. Hard. Work. to figure out who I am, what matters, what lights a fire in my belly and, most important of all, why.
📚 I read stacks of books and blog posts; I Googled “values” and compiled a list of possibilities, most of which I rejected as “not quite right”.
Countless lists were written, scrapped, rewritten, amended, and scrapped again.
Until I figured it out.
I now have a clear vision, purpose, and goals – and they’re all driven by my list of core values.
Those same values drive my money management system, which keeps serving me better and better with every passing year, just as it does for all my students and clients.
When you connect with your core, the results follow.
I have distilled years of digging, thinking, writing, reconsidering, and direct experience with hundreds of people into a course –> Identify Your Core Values.
Today, I’m going to share three of my personal core values to show you how I boiled it down for myself. Then, I’ll walk you through the step-by-step process so you can do this for yourself.
My first, my last, and one in between
My #1 core value reads as follows:
- Health, Fitness, Energy and Vitality for me and my family
There’s a reason health shows up at the very top for me. When someone you love dies at 31 after more than a decade of health problems (i.e. my first husband), it doesn’t take long to figure out that health takes top billing in your world.
The first time I wrote out my list of values, I just wrote something like “Being healthy”. I soon realized that the statement was far too vague. What on earth does that mean? Is it OK to be healthy but not fit? Not for me.
So, I mentioned fitness.
Then I realized that I know someone who is super fit, but they’re always tired. They look muscular, but they have no vitality. I didn’t want that.
I kept asking myself, “What do you want then?”
Eventually, I came up with my answer: I want to be hiking up mountains at 89, passing grumpy teenagers with ease, and loving every blessed minute of it. I want to get to the top and think, “That was awesome! Let’s do it again.”
To pull that off, I need to be vital and energetic on top of being fit and healthy – for the rest of my life, not just while I’m young.
So, I added “energy” and “vitality” to the list.
I still wasn’t done, though.
At first, my value statement simply mentioned my family.
And guess what? I focused so much on ensuring that my family was super healthy that I got lost in the shuffle. I stopped exercising for a million reasons that sounded reasonable, but were total BS.
It’s not that I was last on the list; I didn’t even make the list.
I changed my value statement again. This time, I put myself in first spot: First, I take care of my health, then I show up for the rest of the people in my world, including my husband and daughters.
When I did that, I started to exercise once again.
Isn’t that interesting?
- Make a difference in the world by closing the wealth gap for women
I hated the work I had been doing. There was no way I was going to get stuck in mind-numbing work ever again.
My new value reflects the fire in my core that drives me – a steadfast determination to help women beef up their finances so that they aren’t so damned vulnerable when life happens AND so that they can make choices from a position of strength.
“Choices” and “great options” – these are beautiful words. I want this for all women.
- Have cool, inspiring, memorable experiences while travelling the world with my favorite people.
Self-explanatory. I want to travel. A lot. And well. Makes me happy just reading that. (Please go away Covid-19.) ✈️
The core values process goes like this:
1. Write down as many values as you can think of. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of possibilities. Write them down without editing the list.
2. Triage your list down to the top 30 for you.
3. Next, see if you can group the 30 into categories. Some broad categories should jump out at you – e.g. work-related, health, relationships, etc.
4. Boil down the categories into key words that best represent that category.
5. From those key words, pull out the top 5 to 10.
6. Word them in a way that resonates with you. Sentences often work best for values statements.
7. Prioritize your list, in order.
8. See if you can spot what I call a Values Gap – a place in your life where your stated values don’t line up with your behaviour.
9. Does the behaviour need to change or do you have the wrong value? Sort that out.
10. Write down your list on an index card and keep it in front of you. Keep reworking the list until it resonates with you.
Once you’ve got your list of values, you are ready to create values-based goals – that is, goals that will bring you the joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment you seek.
They’re the kind of goals that would make you look back over your life at the end and think, “What an amazing life I’ve led! I’m delighted with the way it turned out.” 🙌
Get clear on what matters to you (i.e. your non-negotiables).
Turn that into a list of core values.
Use that list to create meaningful, big-picture goals.
Refer to the list every step of the way. That list will effectively guide your financial decisions. It will also guide your decisions about how best to use your time.
And, it will help keep you on track, or get back on track, during those inevitable moments in life when we stray off course.
Is it doable by yourself? Absolutely.
Is it a simple process? Yes it is.
Is it easy? NO!
Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about my Identify Your Core Values mini course and how I can guide you, step by step, through the process for faster results with your finances and your life goals.
If you’re a DIY kind of gal, have at her. The process is above.