Do you know your core guiding values? When you’re clear on your personal values, it’s like having your own inner compass. Your guiding values help you stay true to yourself and navigate your life with more ease and grace, rather than feeling lost or being pulled off course by other people’s expectations. In this post, I’ll guide you through the process of finding your core guiding values and using them as your own inner compass. Be sure to download the free Inner Compass workbook — it includes a Values List and is packed with helpful tips and exercises to help you get crystal clear on your guiding values!
Have you ever felt like your life is off-course, or that something is just “off” in your life in general?
Or maybe you’ve wondered why, on the surface, your life looks great, but for some reason you feel unfulfilled and uninspired.
I’ve certainly found myself feeling this way at different points in my life, and I suspect a lot of us have.
I believe one of the biggest culprits in this scenario is when we’re not living in alignment with our personal guiding values.
Our personal guiding values (which some people call core values or personal values) are like our inner compass.
On this amazing journey of life, our guiding values make up the points on our inner compass that keep us aligned with our true Self and heading in the right direction — toward fulfillment, meaning, purpose, and living our best life.
In this blog post, I’ll introduce you to the concept of guiding values, share how they can benefit you, and help you discover your own set of guiding values (aka your own inner compass).
WHAT ARE PERSONAL GUIDING VALUES?
“Values” can be kind of a loaded word, so let’s start there.
I’m not referring specifically to moral values, like what’s right and what’s wrong (like the Ten Commandments, for example).
When I talk about personal guiding values, I’m referring simply to what you value most in your life.
Your personal guiding values are essentially what you hold most sacred.
They’re your life priorities and what you care about most.
These values define who you want to be and how you want to live.
You might also hear them referred to as core values or personal values, but I call them guiding values because they essentially guide you through your life.
They guide your actions, decisions, how you spend your time and energy, who you spend your time with, and what you make a priority in your life.
But before you can tap into this inner compass of personal guiding values, you first have to know what yours are!
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO KNOW YOUR VALUES
Having clear personal guiding values can benefit you in so many ways.
Clearly defined personal guiding values, when embraced, will keep you on a steady and positive course in life . . . moving in the direction of your purpose, joy, and fulfillment.
Without clear guiding values, it’s easy to get pulled off the course of your best life and in the direction of what other people in your life think is important (aka their values).
Without your inner compass of guiding values, you might even lack direction altogether.
It then becomes easy to be pulled in the direction of whatever looks or feels good in the moment, like a seed blowing in whatever direction the wind carries it.
Wherever that seed lands, it sets up roots.
If you leave it up to the wind to decide where you land, you might find yourself putting down roots in a place you don’t really want to be.
I think this is how people find themselves in careers they dislike and find uninspiring (been there!) or in relationships that aren’t serving their higher good (been there, too).
Having clear personal guiding values can simplify your life, because when you’re committed to them, you’ll automatically rule out things that aren’t in alignment.
Here’s an example from my own life . . .
Before I started my life coaching practice, my business was devoted to Pinterest marketing and strategy. I only worked with bloggers and specialized in a specific niche of blog topics, because I knew those topics well and also enjoyed working on them. At one point when I really needed some new clients, I had someone approach me about managing her Pinterest marketing, but her blog was outside my normal niche (and also a topic I was completely uninterested in). One of my personal guiding values is doing work that is aligned with my purpose, values, and passions (aka work that I love), and I knew this opportunity just wasn’t in alignment with that. So, rather than agonize over whether I should make an exception this time for the money, I declined, knowing that this was both in my highest good and hers.
I’m not gonna lie, it hurt passing up that revenue. But that’s one of the hard truths about living a life in alignment with our values . . . it often means not taking the easy path, and giving up something that’s “good enough” for something that’s great.
Those “good enough” opportunities are how we end up settling for less than what we want and deserve.
On a similar note, being clear on your personal guiding values helps you set up healthy boundaries for yourself.
It makes decision-making easier, and helps you make better decisions.
When you have a decision to make, ask yourself “Is this in alignment with my guiding values?”
When used in conjunction with your intuition, or inner wisdom, personal guiding values are a powerful tool for living the life you want and are meant to live.
HOW TO find YOUR PERSONAL GUIDING VALUES
Before we dive into this, let me first say this . . . don’t feel bad if you don’t know what your guiding values are, or if it’s something you’ve never even thought about.
Even though most of us are familiar with brand values and company values through our work, this concept of having our own personal values is new and unfamiliar for a lot of people.
I was well into my thirties before the concept of having my own personal values came into my consciousness.
So, how do you uncover your personal guiding values?
Begin with this in mind . . . there are LOTS of things, qualities, etc. you value in your life, but they won’t all be your guiding values.
Your personal guiding values are the things, qualities, and ideals you hold most sacred.
They’re the values that you’re not willing to compromise. And if they are compromised, it significantly affects your happiness, well-being, and/or quality of life.
I’ve created a workbook to help you get clear on your personal guiding values. You can download it (for free) below!
A few techniques you can use to uncover your personal guiding values are:
- Journaling about it (you’ll find journal prompts in the values workbook)
- Tapping into your inner wisdom by drawing Tarot/Oracle cards or Runes
- Meditating on it
Guiding values can be whatever you want them to be.
Some of them might be objects or people, like “family.” Some might be qualities, like “honesty.”
This is really about what resonates and feels right to you.
A great piece of advice about choosing your values comes from this blog post by Mark Manson: “We need values we can control, otherwise our values control us.”
The more control you have over your ability to live your values, the better.
The example he gives is around money. If you make wealth one of your values, there’s nothing wrong with this, but there are a lot of things contributing to being wealthy that are OUTSIDE of your control. The stock market can crash, an investment can go sideways . . . there are so many things out of your control that affect your ability to be wealthy. Something related that you have more control over could be the type of work you choose to do to achieve and maintain wealth. So, wealth might be replaced by the value of doing work you love and find fulfilling (which just happens to be one of my guiding values!).
HOW MANY GUIDING VALUES SHOULD YOU HAVE?
There’s no one right number here. You really have to go with what feels right for you.
That said, the general consensus on this (based on a quick google search) seems to be no fewer than five, and no more than ten, with five being the ideal.
I agree with this range of five to ten. If you have too many, it will be hard to keep up with them and use them for guidance, but it will likely be hard to encompass everything with fewer than five.
For me, I like multiples of four, as four is a sacred number in Native American culture (I’m not Native American, but I feel a deep respect for and kinship with their culture and spiritual beliefs).
Eight is also my favorite number, it’s considered a very lucky number in the Chinese culture (I’m Chinese by marriage ;), and it represents the four cardinal points + four intercardinal directions on a compass.
So, I personally have eight guiding values.
HOW TO LIVE IN ALIGNMENT WITH YOUR VALUES
The important thing here is to fully embrace these guiding values and be vigilant in keeping them at the forefront of your life.
Your guiding values definitely aren’t a “set it and forget it” kind of thing.
Most people (including me) need to have regular reminders of our guiding values to help us stay committed to them.
In the Guiding Values Workbook, (INSERT HYPERLINK) you’ll find ideas for keeping your values top of mind so they don’t get lost in the day-to-day shuffle of life.
Other ways to live in alignment with your values include:
- Check in with yourself regularly to be sure you’re in alignment with your values. You could make this part of your weekly or monthly planning and review.
- Refer to your guiding values when making decisions. (Is this in alignment with my values? Does this support me in living my values?)
- Use them as a guide when setting your goals and intentions.
- Set boundaries for yourself that support your values.
- Be sure that how you’re spending your time (and who you’re spending it with) is in alignment with your guiding values.
Uncovering and committing to your personal guiding values is one really important step you can take to live a life that’s fulfilling, meaningful, and joyful.
Identifying personal guiding values is one of the first things I do with new life coaching clients, and it guides our work together throughout the course of their coaching journey.
If you’re ready to create your own inner compass of guiding values, the Inner Compass Workbook I created for you is a great way to get started.
And if you’d like to go deeper with this work, life coaching can really help you assess what areas of your life might be out of alignment with your guiding values and get them back in alignment, so that you can start living a fulfilling and joyful life that lights you up!
To learn more about coaching with me and how it works, I invite you to visit my coaching page, where you can sign up for a complimentary consult.
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