Personal Core Values – The Ultimate Guide – 2023

Personal Core Values – The Ultimate Guide – 2023

A seldom-taught life tool critical for maximizing your potential is defining your personal core values or beliefs.  This article will help you understand what personal core values are and how you can select the three most important to you. 

Think about your decision-making process and what causes you to get to the desired outcome? Why do you choose one way to do something over another? Whether you realize it or not, your values and personal beliefs are what influence you to come to your conclusion when going through the decision-making process. In this article, you will do some introspection about your motivations when making decisions. Discovering your core values will make a powerful impact on how you live your life because values provide your brain with guidance for the goals and choices you make. 

John C. Maxwell, a famous leadership author, says,  “Your core values are the deeply held beliefs that authentically describe your soul.”

As you discover your core values, you will be able to define your purpose and set your goals more effectively. With the proper alignment of your core values, purpose, and goals, you will gain a sense of clarity and fulfillment because your motivations, aspirations, and actions will all be working together to improve your life.

This article will explore core values and reveal their impact on your purpose and goals.


Table of contents of what we will cover:


What happens when you have a clear understanding of your core values?

What are personal core values or beliefs?

What is the value of knowing your core values?

Where do you get your personal values?

What core values are not.

How do core values differ from goals?

Core values quiz

How do you determine your primary values?

How do you determine your core values?

How do you determine the importance of your core values?

How do you deal with roadblocks/obstacles to your core values?

How do you put your core values into action?



What happens when you have a clear understanding of your Core Values?


Let me give you a visual….think of a cutaway image of a tree with a very strong root system that goes deep into the ground. The roots are your values, and a strong root structure will support and feed your purpose in life (which is the trunk of the tree) and will help you develop your goals (which are the branches, leaves, and fruit). 


Your personal core values support your purpose and goal setting. Your core values act as a strong foundation for your decision making.
Personal Core Values provide a strong foundation for your purpose and your goals.


As you face life’s inevitable challenges, just as this tree weathers tropical storms, with a strong value system or root system, you will be able to weather severe storms without incurring too much damage. 


Personal core values help you weather the storms of life
Personal core values help you weather life’s storms.


Compare this to a tree with a very shallow root system or a person who doesn’t know or hold true to their values. The tree with a shallow root system will easily topple over when challenged by the storms that invariably come. A person without clear values will be easily swayed in different directions because they did not discover a purpose or set solid goals.


Trees with a shallow root system will topple easily. The same is true if you don't have a clear set of personal core values and beliefs
Trees with a shallow root system will easily topple over in a storm.


In this article, you’re going to determine what your core values are, why these values are important to you, and how you put them into action. With the clarity this process provides, you will act out of wisdom rather than just chance and impulse when making decisions. 

As you think about your future and creating the best life possible for yourself and your future family, what values do you need to support this vision?

The clearer you are when defining your values and stating why they are important to you, the more confident you will be when making decisions. As you get older and wiser, you may change the purpose of your life, and you may want to revisit your values, and that’s OK.  However, if you’re going to make your current vision for your life a reality, you need to clarify what values will support where you want to go. 


What are personal Core Values?


Your core values are ideas you closely identify with and are willing to pursue and defend. Values govern the way you behave, communicate and interact with others. Think of them as personal boundaries you set that are non-negotiable as you go through life.

Your personal core values provide clarity and confidence
Your personal core values provide clarity and confidence.

Values are guiding principles that you count on to direct your behaviors to feel confident you can make your mark on the world. The core values you select will become the strong foundation for your purpose and goals. You will use your core values as a lens through which you evaluate your decisions and actions. If your values align with your desired action, you can continue pursuing that action. If they don’t, you need to pause and reconsider the next step to avoid conflict with your values.



Focus on determining your personal core values or beliefs
Focus on determining your personal core values or beliefs.


Where do you get your values?


We all have values, whether we realize it or not. Your current values may be strongly influenced by parents, teachers, coaches, friends, or other role models you admire. You’ve been taught specific values that you are following consciously or unconsciously. 


It is normal to assimilate your families personal core values
Early in life your personal values will be influenced by your family.


By determining your own personal core values, you will be on your way to realizing your purpose and creating your life goals. You will gain a sense of clarity, confidence, and control knowing that your values, aspirations, and goals are all aligned. This knowledge will also be beneficial as you decide which college major and career path to follow.

One of the significant advantages of this process is that you will be able to rely on this valuable insight with confidence as you create your unique and compelling college application essays, which will enable you to stand out from your competition. Click here for a quick 3-minute video that explains how you can make this happen.


Knowing your personal core values drives alignment and clarity
Knowing your personal core values drives alignment and clarity.


What Core Values are not.


Personal core values are not to be confused with goals. They are not the tasks or responsibilities you are expected to fulfill at school or work. They don’t typically change and don’t depend on where you go to school or work or your social-economic status. personal core values, once discovered and embraced, are tested daily. Properly defined personal core values, coupled with an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses and your purpose and goals, serve to help you maximize your potential.


How do Core Values differ from goals?


Core values are not “right” or “wrong.” They have no time constraints, are not “one-off” accomplishments, and are unique to each individual. Goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. They are either achieved or not. 

Core values are a mental construct, like the horizon. When you look out the window of an airplane as you fly toward the horizon, it becomes clear that the horizon is not your destination, but it keeps you moving in the right direction.  Your set of core values serves the same way; it is not an arrival point, but it keeps you moving in the right direction.  You can view goals as the achievements you attain as you keep your life journey aligned with your values.


It's not hard to make decisions once you know what your values are - Roy Disney
It’s not hard to make decisions once you know what your values are. – Roy Disney


Core Values Quiz



Personal core values quiz will provide clarity
Completing the Personal core values quiz will provide clarity.



To help you determine the personal core values that resonate with you, here is a list of 60 values with their definitions. Take a few minutes to scan the list and see which values resonate with you.

  1. Accomplishment: an act or instance of carrying into effect; fulfillment
  2. Accountability: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility for one’s  actions
  3. Charity: generosity and helpfulness towards the needy
  4. Commitment: an agreement to do something in the future; a pledge
  5. Community: a social, religious, or occupational group sharing common interests
  6. Compassion: feeling sympathy for those stricken by misfortune, with a desire to alleviate the suffering
  7. Competition: a contest for some prize, honor, or advantage
  8. Conviction: a fixed or firm belief
  9. Creativity: the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, or relationships; originality
  10. Decisiveness: displaying no or little hesitation; resolute; determined
  11. Discipline: behavior in accord with rules of conduct; behavior maintained by training and control
  12. Diversity: the inclusion of different types of people
  13. Effectiveness: producing a purpose; producing the intended or expected result
  14. Efficiency: able to accomplish something with the least waste of time and effort
  15. Excellence: possessing outstanding quality or superior merit; remarkably good
  16. Faith: belief in God or the doctrines or teachings of religion
  17. Freedom: the power to determine action without restraint
  18. Fun: what provides amusement or enjoyment
  19. Generosity: readiness or liberality in giving
  20. Grace: favor or goodwill; unmerited divine assistance
  21. Gratitude: the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful
  22. Growth: development from a simpler to a more complex stage
  23. Harmony: when people are able to work together
  24. Health: the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit
  25. Honesty: uprightness and fairness; truthfulness, sincerity, or frankness
  26. Honor: high respect, as for worth, merit, or rank
  27. Humility: freedom from pride or arrogance
  28. Imagination: creative ability; ability to face and resolve difficulties; resourcefulness
  29. Independence: freedom from the control, influence, support, or aid of others
  30. Innovation: the introduction of something new
  31. Integrity: firm adherence to a moral code and ethical principles; honesty
  32. Intelligence: capacity for learning, reasoning, and understanding; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, etc.
  33. Justice: righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness
  34. Kindness: having, showing, or proceeding from benevolence; indulgent, considerate, or helpful; humane
  35. Learning: knowledge or skill acquired by instruction or study
  36. Love: strong affection for another
  37. Loyalty: faithfulness to commitments or obligations
  38. Optimism: an inclination to believe the most favorable in actions and events
  39. Passion: intense, driving, or conviction
  40. Perseverance: to achieve something despite difficulties or failure
  41. Power: ability to act or produce an effect; authority
  42. Professionalism: the conduct, behavior, and attitude of someone in a work or business environment
  43. Prosperity: a successful, flourishing, or thriving condition, especially in financial respects; good fortune
  44. Purpose: the reason why something exists or is done, made, used, etc.
  45. Quality: character with respect to fineness or degree of excellence
  46. Recognition: special notice or attention; the acknowledgment of achievement, service, merit, etc.
  47. Relationships: a connection, association, or involvement with those you care about
  48. Respect: high regard; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment
  49. Responsibility: the state being answerable or accountable for something within one’s power, control, or management
  50. Risk Taking: the willingness to embrace challenges that may be hazardous
  51. Security: freedom from fear and anxiety
  52. Service: contribution to the welfare of others
  53. Spontaneity: arising from a natural impulse or tendency; unplanned
  54. Stability: steadfastness; constancy, as of character or purpose
  55. Success: the accomplishment of one’s goals; the attainment of wealth, position, or honors
  56. Teamwork: work done by several associates with each doing their part
  57. Tolerance: a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions, beliefs, and practices that differ from one’s own
  58. Tradition: an inherited or customary pattern of thought, behavior, or action
  59. Trust: reliance on the integrity, strength, ability of a person or thing; confidence
  60. Wisdom: knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; discernment, or insight

After scanning the list above, hone your selection by determining where each value stands in your order of priority. To help you with this process, think of your core values or beliefs in the following categories:

Must-Have: This is a personal core value that really resonates with you as very important and non-negotiable. This is a core belief that you are committed to defending. If you have a different value that is important to you that was not mentioned in our list, please add it at this time.

Like-to-Have: This is a core value that is important to you but not as important as the Must-Have values.

Neutral: This is a value for which you have no strong feelings one way or the other.

Now, take a blank sheet of paper or create a Google Doc and list two headings across the top of the page. Under each heading, you will list the appropriate value.

                        Must-Have                             Like-to-Have

With these options in mind, review the 60 core values above and pick at least seven Must-Have values and at least seven Like-to-Have values. 

Everything else needs to be considered a Neutral Value and, by default, does not need to be listed. 


Next, you will determine your Primary Values



It is important to establish your primary personal core values
It is important to establish your seven primary personal core values.


Now, review your two lists and make any adjustments necessary. Again, if you already have a different value that is important to you that was not mentioned in the list, please add it to one of your categories. 

As you review your list of seven Must-Haves, place them in order of importance to you by numbering each of the values from one to seven, with one being the most important. These will be your seven Primary Values that will help make your future success a reality.  


Now it’s time to determine your Core Values



It is key to determine your top 3 personal core values
It is key to determine your top 3 personal core values.


Now that you have selected your 7 Primary Values and put them in rank order, you are ready to determine your 3 Core Values. To do this, review your list of 7 Primary Values again to ensure they are in the correct order. 

Next, simply select the top three Primary Values that are most important for accomplishing your vision of the future. These three values will be your 3 Core Values.


Determine the importance of your Core Values



To help you embrace your personal core values you must determine the importance of the value to you
Determine the importance of each personal core value to you


Now that you have selected your Core Values, it’s essential to determine the importance of each of these values to you. These Core Values will guide you to take the steps toward creating the future you imagined.

On the same sheet of paper or Google Doc you used to list your Primary Values, create a section to list each of your 3 Core Values. Under each value, describe why this value is important to you and how it will affect your thoughts, words, and actions. Don’t overthink this, just explain why that particular value is significant to you in a few words.

For example: 

“Integrity is important to me because it means being honest and truthful in every part of my life. Integrity will keep my thoughts honest, my words truthful and sincere, and my actions trustworthy.”  

“Excellence is important to me because I want to always do my best and produce exceptional work. Excellence will keep my thoughts pure, my words virtuous, and my actions of admirable quality.” 

Now, complete the importance of each of the three values. This step helps you validate why that particular value is crucial to your success in life.


How do you deal with roadblocks to your values?



Determine what roadblocks or obstacles you have that impact your personal core values
We all have roadblocks or obstacles that impact our personal core values.


This step will address any roadblocks you have relative to each of your Core Values. For each value, add a category called Roadblock/Obstacle below your explanation of why the value is important to you. List any obstacles or roadblocks that impede you from properly implementing each value. It may be an estranged relationship with a parent that impacts your core value of love. You may be cheating in class, which violates your core value of integrity. You get the picture. Do this for each of your three Core Values.


How do you put your values into action?



Put your values into action
Knowing your personal core values or beliefs allows you to make better decisions.


To strengthen each of your Core Values, you need to put in place a specific Value Action Plan. First, determine what you are doing now that you will Continue doing to strengthen each core value?  Next, determine what you will Start doing relative to each value to ensure success for that value? And finally, decide what you need to Stop doing relative to each value in order for you to fully implement that value as part of your future success? For example:

Value 1 is Integrity

     Importance: Integrity is important to me because it means being honest and truthful in every part of my life. Integrity will keep my thoughts real, my words genuine and sincere, and my   actions trustworthy. Integrity is essential for being successful in school, building a career, and having a strong family. Others will know they can rely on me. 

     Continue Doing: Do what I say I will do.

     Start Doing: Be more deliberate and sincere about the activities I choose. 

     Stop Doing: Overcommitting so that I don’t complete what I say I will do.

Value 2 is Love 

     Importance: Love is important to me because it is essential for happiness in current and future family relationships and friendships. Love will keep my thoughts kind, my words positive, and my actions appreciative. I want my family and friends to know that I love them. 

     Continue Doing: Tell everyone in my family that I love them daily. 

     Start Doing: Visit my Grandmother more often and let her know that I love her. 

     Stop Doing: Stop getting angry and saying something I later regret to my parents.

Now go back to your sheet for each value, and under the answer for Roadblocks, add three more headings: Continue Doing, Start Doing, and Stop Doing. Enter your response below each heading for all three values.


How can your Core Values guide your decision-making?


Now that you fully understand the importance of your Core Values let’s see how you can put your values to work! 

As you make decisions in everyday life, you will consider the impact your values have on your actions. To accomplish this, just follow this vetting process for each decision. In the beginning, it may seem a bit unnatural, but as you practice this process, it will become more instinctive. 

For example:

Question: Should I attend Northwestern University in Chicago ?

1st Core Value: Intelligence

  • Will going to Northwestern University satisfy my need for intellectual challenge?

Answer: Yes, this school offers a great learning experience where I can be stretched.

Decision: Continue


2nd Core Value: Excellence

  • Will going to Northwestern University support my desire for excellence?

Answer: Yes, this school is highly selective and accordingly ranked.

Decision: Continue


3rd Core Value: Relationships

  • Will going to Northwestern University support my relationships?

Answer: Yes, my family only lives 3 hours from Chicago, and I will make new friends when I’m there, so this works great!.

Decision: Continue


Let’s take another example:


Question: I have been invited to a party tonight, should I go?

1st Core Value: Creativity

  • Will going to the party be fun and supportive of my creativity?

Answer: Yes, parties at this friend’s house are always unique and fun!

Decision: Continue

2nd Core Value: Risk-Taking

  • Is this a risk-taking activity?

Answer: No relevance to this value, as parents will be present.

Decision: Continue

3rd Core Value: Discipline

  • Do I have more important things I should be doing instead of going to this party?

Answer: Yes, I have an important test first thing in the morning which I’m not ready for. 

Decision: Stop


The key is to ensure that when you are going to make a decision, you test the decision against each of your Core Values, not just one! 


Your decision needs to pass all three core values for best results
Your decision needs to pass all three core values for best results.





Congratulations! You’ve learned a ton in this article! You have been able to determine the Core Values that support you in your quest to live your best life with a purpose! You now can easily describe your Core Values to others, and you also know the vital role your values play when making decisions and taking actions. Now, you will be able to use your values as you create compelling college applications and scholarship essays that help you stand out from your competition. If you want to get a head start on your competition, click here to learn more about our self-discovery courses.

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Email me with any questions at Greg@CollegeFlightPlan.com.

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