What crosses your mind when you read the phrase core values? You most likely, think of the way corporations use their core values and mission statements. That is to say, you probably don’t think that much of them. You may see them as nice thoughts and ideas, but impractical to daily work and life. That’s how most people treat them, as cute but ultimately pointless.
For all the talk of core values and principles, few live by them. The person who spends hours writing them down, getting them just right, and basing their entire day off them, is rare. This is most quickly demonstrated by asking someone what their core values are. The blank stare and stumbling response evidence that few value them.
But they should.
Core values are more than platitudes. They are guiding rails for your life. They are there to keep you on the right track. Running in the right direction. Helping you live a consistent and meaningful life.
They set the direction for who you are and where you want to go.
What is truly important to you? These things frame your life. If these things are in place, you know you’re tracking towards where you want to end up in life. They help create a roadmap to your destination.
They are constant and core to who you are.
They do not change all that often. How you run them down and work on them may change, but your values shouldn’t. They are things so important to you that they are part of who you are. They become part of your identity in a real way.
They simplify decision making.
If you have emails left to respond to, but it’s reaching the end of the workday, your core values simplify that decision. Those emails sit and wait for the next day because family is a core value and comes first.
They focus you on the long-term over the short-term.
People who are successful are willing to suffer in the short-term for long-term gain. It is harder to do the right things today. Today’s temptation is big, loud, and really hard to ignore. That makes it hard to say no. Core values help focus you on your long-term destination instead of the immediate temptation to stray from the path.
You need help getting to your destination.
You can’t get there by wandering here and there. You need a defined direction, and a path to follow. Core values define your path. They set you up for success, and help you become your best self, better still they help you live into your deepest values today.
You already know what they are.
It shouldn’t be complicated. Your core values aren’t things you dream up.They are those things you hold most dear. Putting words to them is the part that takes a little more effort.
Ask yourself questions and google examples. These will help you put words to and define them. They do little to guide your life if you can’t define or articulate them.
Set annual goals and turn them into daily actions.
The power rests in what you each day. Form the right habits. You’ll know you’re tracking in the right direction if you can check off these items each night.
Review them often.
Pull out that note on your phone or word doc on your computer. Don’t let them collect dust. Look at them. Monitor your progress.
Make adjustments as needed.
If you’re not getting closer to your goal, change course. These things aren’t set in stone. You are meant to change how you chase excellence. The destination rarely changes, but you may reroute often. What matters is that you keep going. You put forth maximum effort every day.