Do You Know Your Core Values? Why is It Important to Write Them Down?

Manager speaking to group of people inside room

When applying for a job in any organization you’ll probably want to know the core values of this organization. However, we hardly reflect on our personal core values. When talking about personal core values here are some questions that can help you reflect on them;

  • What are your core values?
  • Why are they important to you?
  • Where do they come from?
  • Are your decisions guided by these values?
  • Do you compromise on your values to get something that you want?

Most people have a set of personal values that influence their decisions and how they live. These values and principles are the personal core values. Personal core values are the backbone of your identity as a person. They define who you are, your behavior and relationships.

These core values aren’t something that you’re born with. You learn and develop them as you grow. So, family and upbringing has a great contribution to the values that you hold on to. Other factors such as schooling, religious beliefs also determine our personal core values.

Personal experiences also shape our core values. Let’s consider an example of a military officer. Some of their core values may be duty, respect, service, courage and loyalty. Their experience serving in the military might have influenced their personal core values.

Knowing Your Core Values!

You might not believe me when I tell you that knowing your core values is much harder than you think. You’ll probably shrug this off with “of course, I know my values”. However, it is much harder than you can imagine.

If I told you to write down your core values, how long would it take you? Some minutes? A day or a couple of days? Or even months? Give it a try.

Congrats! You’ve been able to write down your core values. It doesn’t matter how long it took you, you did it. But, do you know what they mean to you? What are their importance to you? Where do these values emanate from? Where did you get them from?

They might not really make sense to you why they are important to you until you know what shaped them. Is it your upbringing or some religious beliefs? Did you pick them up from the schools you attended or from your professional and personal experiences?

We cannot connect the dots looking forward; we can only connect them looking backward.
― Steve Jobs.

It is only by looking back, at our childhood, upbringing and other experiences in life that you can know what shaped a particular core value. If you know this, then it will become crystal clear to you why these values are important. And, moving on you will know when to fall back to those values when faced by certain decisions and circumstances.

Why Is It Important to Write Your Core Values Down?

Yes, we all have our core values that we function from. We have them at the back of our minds, but we have not written them down. You probably don’t even think it is important to write them down. However, you’ll be shocked to realize how powerful writing them down is.

It is crucial to write down your core values in a way that is meaningful to you. Some might be just single words such as respect. Another person will have a set of sentences defining their core values. It doesn’t matter how you write them down, what matters is knowing what they mean to you.

Here are some reasons why you should write your core values down:

  • For Review

You’ve probably heard a successful person give this advice “write down your values and revisit them”. Writing down the values that are important to you is good for daily review. You can revisit them daily, weekly or whenever need be.

We cannot undermine the impact of revisiting something frequently. If you do something daily, it becomes a habit. Imagine this, your core value is respect. You choose to treat yourself and others with respect everyday. Your actions become your habit, your habit becomes your character.

  • Decision Making

Core values are the foundation of your decisions. They are your moral compass hence they determine your choices and actions. If you know your values and have written them down, it is easy to refer to them when faced with difficult decisions, even when making simple choices in life.

Basing your decisions and choices is important in making the right choices. Every decision and choice is based on a certain value that is important to you, therefore, you’ll shed off some negative habits and behavior. Making choices based on your core values is choosing to be a better version of yourself.

  • Setting Healthy Boundaries

Boundaries are very important. Your core values will define the boundaries for you and those around you. They will set a clear line on what you are okay with and the lines that you’re not willing to cross.
Some people may not realize the importance of your core values and they might attempt to sway you away. However, knowing and writing down your core values will help you stand your ground in such times. And these very people will come to respect you for being grounded in what you believe in, your core values.

There are some values that you should never compromise on to stay true to yourself; you should be brave to stand up for what you truly believe in even if you stand alone.
― Roy T. Bennet

Leadership Begins with You!

There’s no denying that you should begin knowing yourself before you think of leading someone else. You can make decisions that conform to these value systems by knowing your values and moral ideals.

However, knowing ourselves first demands a thorough investigation of our background and upbringing. We must identify our experiences through life and their contribution to the formation of our core values.

Writing down your core values as a leader will help you make better decisions and choices. All your choices and actions will be aligned to these important values. You’ll also be able to have healthy and collaborative relationships with those around you

I have a challenge for you: reflect on what your core values are and write them down. Make sure you know where every value comes from and why it is important to you. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you or in what format you write them. Just do it.

Doing this will be a life changing decision for you!