Unveiling Your Core Values: The Path to Authenticity and Fulfillment 

Maegan Bradshaw, July 17, 2023

In the journey of self-discovery and personal growth, understanding your core values is like finding the compass that guides you through life's intricate paths. Your core values define who you are at your essence, shaping our thoughts, actions, and priorities. These deeply held beliefs and principles act as a moral compass, providing clarity, purpose, and a sense of fulfillment. In this blog post, we will explore the significance of discovering your core values, how they can empower you, and share RAFT's exercise to find your own. 

Defining Core Values: 

Core values are the fundamental principles and beliefs most important to us. They are a reflection of your true self, giving your life purpose, meaning, and passion. These values act as a guiding force, influencing your choices, decisions, and interactions with others. They may include qualities such as honesty, compassion, integrity, freedom, fairness, creativity, or any other principles that resonate deeply with you. Core values are unique to each one of us; your upbringing, experiences, and personal reflections all shape them. Our values also grow and evolve with us as we continue to gain life experience.  

illustration of person organizing squares that symbolize goals

The Importance of Discovering Your Core Values: 

  • Self-Awareness & Clarity: Identifying your core values provides a deep understanding of who you are and your beliefs. This allows you to clarify what truly matters to you, helping you align your actions and decisions. Living in alignment with your core values provides you with a greater sense of authenticity, integrity, and pride. 
  • Decision-Making & Prioritization: Core values are your compass when making decisions. They provide a framework to help you evaluate options, weigh alternatives, and make choices that align with your personal beliefs. When facing difficult decisions, referring to your core values can offer you guidance to prevent you from drifting away from what truly matters to you. 
  • Setting Meaningful Goals: Living by your core values is essential when setting meaningful goals that align with your authentic self. When your goals align with your values, you feel more motivated, fulfilled, and satisfied with your achievements. Your values act as a driving force, propelling you toward a purpose-driven life. 
  • Enhancing Relationships: Sharing your core values with your family, friends, and colleagues can be a powerful conversation and allow them insight to who you truly are, how you make decisions, and how to best build a relationship with you. Surrounding yourself with people whose values align with your own creates a foundation of trust and understanding. This allows you to form deeper connections and nurture relationships. Recognizing the core values of others can help you build empathy and navigate conflicts with greater understanding.  
  • Foundation for Healthier Work Environment: By recognizing and embracing your personal core values, you gain a powerful tool for navigating your work life with purpose, authenticity, and fulfillment. They serve as a compass that guides your decisions, motivates your actions, and enables you to create a positive impact in the workplace. 
  • Resilience and Inner Strength: Think of your core values as an anchor during especially challenging times, providing a sense of purpose, resilience, and inner strength. When we stay true to our authentic self while facing obstacles, we can navigate adversity with integrity, courage, and self-worth. 
illustration of a person writing in a journal, wearing headphones and burning a candle.

Discovering Your Core Values: 

Finding your core values is a deeply personal and introspective process. It requires self-reflection and exploration of your personal beliefs and principles. Here are some steps to help you on your journey of discovering: 

  1. Self-Reflection & Introspection: Find a quiet and comfortable space to think deeply about your life, experiences, and what truly matters to you. Consider your past accomplishments, moments of joy and fulfillment, as well as times when you felt most aligned with your true self. Really give yourself space and dedicate time for this self-reflection. 
  2. Identify Significant Life Experiences: Take a moment to reflect on those BIG moments in life; on the experiences that have shaped you. Consider moments of success, challenges, turning points, and moments that changed your point of view. Explore the values present during those experiences and how they influenced your thoughts, emotions, and actions. Pay close attention to the values that bring you a sense of fulfillment and authenticity. 
  3. List & Prioritize Values: Start by brainstorming a list of values that resonate with you (*or use RAFT's exercise below. We've already done some brainstorming.) Consider the qualities, principles, and ideas that feel most important in your life, and list the values that most deeply resonate with you. Next, ask yourself which values are non-negotiable and essential to your identity; this will help you to narrow down your list & prioritize their significance to you. Prioritizing these core values can be a turning point in goal setting, conflict resolution, and aligning our intentions/actions.  
  4. Test Your Values: It is time to put your values into action and observe how they impact your life. Notice whether they bring you a sense of joy, fulfillment, and alignment. For example, if your top value is 'Family,' start by prioritizing scheduling family dinners weekly. If a top value is empathy, stop to reflect in a moment of guilt/shame and practice empathy with yourself first. Recognizing and practicing these values will ultimately help you set and stick to healthy boundaries.   
  5. Refine & Revisit: Discovering your core values is an ongoing process. As you grow and evolve, your values shift and expand. Reflect on any fine-tuning needed as you gain more clarity through lived experiences. Regularly revisit and refine your values to ensure they align with your authentic self.

Exploring and identifying your core values is a transformative journey leading you to a more authentic, purposeful, and fulfilling life. By understanding what truly matters to you and living in alignment with your values, you can make conscious choices, set meaningful goals, build meaningful relationships, and navigate life's challenges with resilience. So embrace the process of self-discovery, explore your core values, and embark on a path that honors your authentic self.

** Here at RAFT, we strive to improve the level of care for sexual and domestic violence survivors by providing support to the heart of the agencies, the staff. One way we do this is through workshops; teaching the tools needed to build resilience to compassion fatigue and stressors related to work (like healthy boundary setting.) RAFT provides these workshops free of cost to SV and DV agencies and coalitions! 

For more information on how RAFT can share these tools and support your organization please email me at outreach@raftcares.org 

Art Provided by: Raft's Workshop & Team Admin, Sophie