Have you ever gone to the grocery store without a list? We all know what happens next. You spend extra time going through all the aisles. Your mind is racing… what do I need? Do we have ketchup at home? How about eggs? You are a little hungry, so chocolate-covered banana snacks and a bag of weird wasabi-flavored chips end up in the cart.
As you stand in the checkout line, you start thinking… wasn’t there something I actually came here for? By now you’ve forgotten, which means once you return home your spouse is going to “request” you go right back and get the laundry detergent. Now!
The trip would have been more productive if you had taken just a bit of time upfront to make a list. But you didn’t, so you spent money on things you didn’t need and wasted time meandering through the aisles. You were less confident in deciding what to buy, weren’t you? Next time, bring your list.
As we face decisions on family, careers, lifestyles, philanthropy — how we spend our time and money — we could use a similar list to keep us on track and point us in the right direction. A list of what’s truly important to us, a list that can provide guidance as we navigate our way through life. The items on that list — those are your Core Values.
While a grocery list may take a few minutes, your list of Core Values may take a little more time. Let’s get started.
What Are Core Values?
Core Values are the priorities that you value most in your life — such as family, meaningful work, or giving back to your community. Perhaps health and fitness, or the flexibility to come and go as you please.
Core Values are not possessions, activities, or experiences. They are aspects of how you define yourself as a person. They bring about the most positive impact on your life.
They exist on the highest plane. For example, love of music is not a core value. But if part of you yearns to express yourself creatively — well, that is where you start. Creativity and expression are the Values, music is the medium, and piano lessons may be the means.
Core Values act as a guide to help give you clarity in major decisions in your life. They can help you set goals and priorities. At the very least, they are your grocery list for life!
So How Do You Determine Your Core Values?
The following questions will get you thinking:
- What brings energy to your life?
- What do you strive to accomplish over time?
- What achievements are you most proud of?
- What areas within your life do you protect the most?
- Where are you willing to make the fewest compromises?
- What qualities do the people you admire possess?
- What is the legacy you would like to leave?
Considering the questions above, look at the list below and circle any of the words that you feel could be a Core Value. Don’t think too hard — just circle. If you don’t see one that captures your thinking, add it to the list and circle it.
Spend some time looking at the words you circled, take a breath and narrow the list to your top twenty values.
Now narrow it to the top ten.
Take some time and now narrow it to five. Okay, overachievers, you can have up to ten if you need to!
Once you have your Core Values list, write it down. Feel free to add other Values, too.
Keep this list handy. You will refer back to it as you move forward and look at decisions on how you spend your time and money.
Share your Values
Once you determine your Core Values, don’t keep them to yourself! Share them with your life partner, your best friend, your kids, or anyone important to you. Talk about why you feel certain values better reflect who you are, and why others may not. Talk about how your values impact your decisions in life.
Were there any surprises in discovering your Core Values?
Have you used your Core Values in making any big decisions in your life?
- Which decisions?
- What Core Values guided you?
Shari Greco Reiches
Shari co-founded Rappaport Reiches Capital Management with one goal - to maximize the return on life for her clients. Please connect with Shari below. She loves to talk about investing, financial planning, and Barry Manilow.