The Big Idea
If you’re living a life focused on your values people will almost know them automatically from the way that you speak, the actions that you take, and the life that you lead
Questions I Answer
- How do I figure out my core values?
- Where can I find a list of core values?
- Why are core values important?
Actions to Take
- Grab your FREE download… the Core Values list and begin defining your core values for your personal life or career and business.
Key Topics in the Show
What really are core values and why you need to definitively state or write them out.
Examples of big and small choices you can make that will align with your core values.
The easy 3-step process for defining your core values and a free download to help you get started.
The 2 types of core values you may need to define to allow yourself feel fulfilled & satisfied.
Using breadcrumbs, or patterns, to understand and cultivate your core values.
Welcome to Productivity Paradox from inkWELL Press, a podcast focused on finding success and happiness through the power of productivity. Each season Tanya focuses on specific strategies to help you discover your own priorities and purpose. Season five is all about investing in you. You can also join Tanya for more interaction and support in her free Facebook group at inkwellpress.com/group. Now, here’s your host, Tanya Dalton.
Hello, hello everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host Tanya Dalton, owner of inkWELL Press and this is episode 58. Today’s episode is brought to you by Trunk Club, an easy and streamlined way to stay in style. I’ll be sharing later in the episode how I use Trunk Club.
Today I’m wanting to talk to you about defining your core values, and before we dive into this I want you to stop for a second and I want you to understand that core values doesn’t have to be this frightening or big thing. People get really caught up with words like core values or mission statements and they think that these words work to define you now and always. Oftentimes I find that this causes a huge stumbling block and I don’t want you to get caught up in that. Your values might change and develop over time, so it’s important that we reflect on our values periodically. These are not the words that will define you 20 years from now or 30 years from now necessarily. You’re not the same person that you were two years ago or five years ago, and certainly not the same person you were 10 years ago. Why would your core values stagnate if you’re continuing to grow and evolve?
I wanted to talk about that first because, as I mentioned, a lot of people do find when we’re talking about topics like this, they get really nervous because they feel like once they decide on these words, these words have to stay the same and they don’t. Let’s talk about what are core values? What does that mean? Well core is the essence or the embodiment of the whole, while values stand for your behavior. This means our core values are essential and unique standards that guide our behavior. They’re unique to you because everyone’s core values are different. Your personal core values are the filter that guide your behavior and your choices, they provide a clear direction and they help you make the best decisions in achieving your goals, and going down that path that you really desire for yourself.
When these core values are ambiguous, you might find yourself wondering how you got into the situation you’re in. A lot of people claim they understand their own values, but it really is hard to know or embody them in our daily lives unless you take the time to articulate them clearly in writing. We want to take the time to figure out internally what’s important to you. Your core values work towards a greater good, whether that greater good applies just to you, for example living a healthy lifestyle or valuing education, or a larger scope of people through values like tithing or volunteering. Ultimately it’s really up to you, but values should answer to your responsibilities and they should help you grow. They answer to the important, not the urgent. Urgent tasks will always exists, and if you’re not checking your values against
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them, those urgent tasks will take over your life. Your values speak to your passions, to your purpose, and who you want to be defined as.
You can see core values are important. Following our personal core values consistently fulfills us, while not knowing or not really having them as a guide can leave us out of alignment and we’re more likely to get into bad habits or to escape and uplift ourselves in ways that are not constructive. Most of us have a hard time knowing exactly what we personally value because a lot of times we focus on societal, cultural, or media values. Can you articulate your top values that are really most important to you? When you’re running on auto pilot and your values aren’t aligned with your choices, you can find yourself incredibly unfulfilled and you may now even know why. Definitively stating your core values doesn’t just help with large decisions, they also help with the seemingly small ones as well. It really helps you guide your daily life.
For example, have you ever bought anything that you really didn’t need but you just felt like buying on impulse? That decision doesn’t factor into the value of spending money wisely, and when the bills are due you might feel a little bit regret due that that impulse purchasing. This is what the disconnect between what you value and what you do can feel like. Beginning to make small choices that tie to our values builds into that domino effect of good choices. Think about this as a small choice, if you value personal relationships you could start putting your phone away or even in a completely different place when you’re spending quality time with loved ones. Choosing to be on your phone the whole time doesn’t align if your value is relationships. It’s about these big choices and the small ones as well. It’s really apart of that long-term investment you make in yourself so you can become the person you truly want to be, just as we talked about in the future self episode at the start of this season.
It can feel really easy to conform to societal pressure, but this too can have long-term consequences and create a feeling that something just isn’t right without really knowing how to fix it. When we have these conflicting concepts of how we want to live and how we actually live, we can experience some dissonance and some unhappiness. The value of knowing your core values is in connecting how we want to live and how we actually live, and we use those core values to help us make the right decisions. Let me give you an example of how core values work in business.
In 1997 Steve Jobs had just returned to Apple and he gave an internal presentation to his employees to let them know where the company stood and where it was heading. He reminded them that Apple is one of the worlds top brands and even big brands need care, which he felt had been lacking. He said, “This is a very complicated world, it’s a very noisy world, and we’re not going to get the chance to get people to remember much about us, no company is.” We have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us. Jobs pointed out that marketing isn’t about touting features or comparing yourself to your competition, it’s about identifying your own story, your core, and being clear about what you stand for. Once you have that core you’re able to communicate it clearly, simply, and consistently. He said, “People want to know who you are and what you stand for. Knowing this is part of knowing your core values.” He, at the time, used the example of Nike.
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Nike sells a commodity shoes and athletic wear, but when you think of Nike you don’t necessarily think of it as a shoe or clothing company. In their ads they don’t talk about the product or compare their shoes to Reebok’s. They feature and honor great athletes and athletics, which is what they’re all about. At it’s heart Jobs says, “Apple believes people with passion can change the world for the better, and that those people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones that actually do.” This led to Jobs introducing Apple’s famous think different TV ad, which doesn’t feature any products and it barely mentions the brand, but it focuses on that key message that embodies their core values, and it works exactly the same for you in your personal life.
I think it is so important to understand so that your message, your branding of who you are truly reflects the person that you want to be. I think that’s true if you have a business and you have core values for your business, and I really think it’s important for you, for yourself to understand and know and share even your core values. I want to take some time to talk about the how. How do you discover your core values?
First I want to take a minute to share that this episode has been brought to you by Trunk Club. If you aren’t familiar with Trunk Club it’s like having your own personal stylist who gets to know you and then hand picks outfits just for you. Then they ship you a complete collection designed to work together and mix and match. Because you use the same stylist again and again, they really begin to understand your unique needs and styles. I’ve been using Trunk Club for some time now and I absolutely love it. I want to feel like I’m up on the latest trends, but I don’t really have time to do the shopping. I have a chat directly with my stylist and I tell her what I have coming up. I choose the budget and she pulls together a collection for me.
The best part, there’s no charge for the stylist if you purchase anything in your collection. It essentially works as a free service to help you understand your personal style. Because it works through Nordstrom, everything is a breeze. I love that. Do you want to use my personal stylist? Just go to inkwellpress.com/trunkclub and you’ll
be introduced to her. I really believe you’ll love how much easier this makes shopping for you.
Let’s get to the heart of what I really want to talk about for the rest of this episode. I want to talk about what are your core values? I want you to be able to discover and write out what are the values you want to guide your life? Do me a favor, don’t presume that you know your values at the start of this exercise. Instead I want you to adopt the mind of a beginner and let go of any preconceived notions. Don’t worry, I’ve got an easy three step process to help you dive into this. Reflect and collect, refine and define, and then believe and achieve. Let’s go through each one of these steps.
Let’s start with step one, which is reflect and collect. Now you knew, if you’ve been listening for any length of time, that I would start with reflection because you know I often say you need to look back to keep moving forward. It should be no surprise to you that this first step involves reflection. This season two we’ve discussed breadcrumbs back in episode 55 and how important it is to take the time to look into where you’ve been to develop where you want to be. Ask yourself some questions to
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help with this process, that will give you some momentum. Starting from nothing makes momentum difficult, so taking time to really ask yourself some key questions can start moving your forward. Before you start that though, I do want to point out there are two kinds of core values, for business and for yourself.
If you own your own business I think it’s really important to create these core values for your business, but even if you’re not a business owner you may want to think of yourself in these two categories of personal and work. I think it’s a great idea because we have different focuses in those areas of our lives, so you may have two sets of core values, one focused on personal and one focused on business. We want to make sure that we separate the two. I would recommend focusing on only one at a time. We don’t want to muddle them together, so when you go through these steps first think about yourself in your personal life and then you can go back and do the three steps again for business. If you think about it, even though these are different areas of your life, they’re still interconnected and you want them to work in harmony with one another. After all, you’re not Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, you’re not two different people, you just have different areas of focus in those two sections of your life.
Let me give you a little big of guidance as to how you can reflect on these different areas. Here’s some questions you can ask yourself. Think about a meaningful event or moment that stands out. What was happening to you? What values were you acting upon at that time? A meaningful event in your personal life could be the day that your child was born. In your business this would be very different. It may be the day you landed a big customer. See how these two answers are vastly different because we’re talking about two very different sections of your life.
Here’s another question. How do you want to be described? In your personal life how do you want others to talk about you when you aren’t around? In business how do you want your customers or clients to tell others what you do? Ask yourself what do you do to impact others. In your personal life what do you do that helps others that fulfills you? In business what problems do you solve for your customers? Think these answers through, and then next I want you to go through a list of core value words. Don’t worry, I’ve got that list for you. Just go to inkwellpress.com/ podcast and look under episode 58. I’ve gathered together a good sized list of words I see often used by other people to name their core values.
What I want you to do is print out that list and then take a highlighter and simply go through that list of words. Think about how you answered the reflection questions and let that be your guide, don’t overthink it. Just highlight or mark the words that resonate with you when you think about those questions you answered. You don’t want to highlight them all, but don’t worry about how many you should mark. Just mark the ones you immediately think are a good fit for you, and that’s it for step one.
Step two, refine and define. At this point, after you’ve gone through that list, you’ll probably have ended up with a long list of values. Too many to be actionable and really to be held accountable for. When I was working on the core values for inkWELL Press I did some research to see what others had chosen, and I found one company had 500 core values, 500 and here’s my thoughts on that. If you’re busy trying to be all the things you end up standing for nothing. Too many dilutes the
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values that you really want to uphold. I decided for myself and for my business that I wanted to have six. I think you can have less, but I would be really careful having too many more. Start really going through those words that you highlighted and that you chose. You know what you’re going to start finding? Patterns, yes there’s that word again. It seems like it’s popping up a lot this season doesn’t it?
You’re definitely going to see patterns, so what I think you should do is you start refining these words. Start grouping these words together into common themes. For example, when I was doing this exercise for inkWELL Press, I grouped together words like generosity, giving, grace, authenticity because they all embody one aspect of my business. Again, these are words that are different but they’re related to what I wanted to convey. After you’ve done that, after you’ve taken the time to take those words and put them into groups I want you to refine your words, so give your groups names. Each word you’ve chosen and have put into these groups has it’s own connotations that come with it, so think about what each of these words means to you. Which one embodies the full idea of what you want to convey? You don’t have to go with a word that literally describes what you like. Think too about the emotion that goes along with it.
For example, let’s say you like travel. You might find the word adventure embodies it, or the word experiences because there’s going to be seasons in your life perhaps where maybe you cannot travel, but you can still enjoy adventure and experiences in other ways. Think about what’s the word that really embodies this group as a whole? For me I had a group of words like empowerment, support, and encouragement, and I ended up labeling that group of words with the overarching value I call love. Really think through what those words mean to you. Now that you’ve refined each one of these groups I want you to define what it means. Take each of those core value words and explain what it means. For my core values for inkWELL Press I created a we believe statement for each. For example, for my core value of intention I follow it up with a statement we believe in living a life focused on priorities. That time is spent best on the things that are important to you and your goals. In other words, what does this core value mean to you?
Words mean different things to different people, so spell it out and allow others to understand your meaning. Take the time and really write out what that word means to you, and then we’re ready for step three. I told you this was easy, right? Step three is believe and achieve, and this last step is truly making your life or your business, if these are your business core values, embody these words that you’ve chosen. Consider if any of these feel inconsistent with your personality. If so make some changes and modify them, make some edits that are necessary to make them feel right. We don’t want our core values just to be for show, we want to use them for our day to day decisions. To test your core values ask yourself this question, “Would you stick to these values even if they created a competitive disadvantage?” If you or your company aren’t willing to sacrifice for your values it’s much more likely that you’ll lose your way when the going gets tough. The long-term benefits of sticking to your values far outweighs any disadvantage you may have in the short-term. You have to fully believe them.
Thinking about a situation where your core value might hurt you rather than help you is a great way to test this. A good example is the value of innovation.
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Sounds great, but does your life thrive on stability rather than the constant change that innovation demands? Innovation means risk and taking chances on new ideas. It’s the complete opposite of stability, so if that’s not really going to work for you in the way you really want to run your life you may want to rethink that. You have to truly believe in these core values, and if you can’t think of a real situation where your values steer your wrong it probably is a great value for you.
Then what we want to do is we want to create a plan so your life is a reflection of these values. If you see one that you really want to focus on use the action roadmap worksheet to make a step by step plan for how you’ll work including that value in your everyday life. If you’re using one of my inkWELL Press planners, log these steps into your mission boards and into your goal setting pages. Make it so you’re keeping yourself accountable each month to stay on track. For the next few months, focus on these steps as being your highest priority. Hold yourself accountable, ask a friend or a partner to help keep you on track. Watch your progress and celebrate your wins. Check in with yourself along the way and reflect on how it feels to work on a personal priority rather than handling urgent tasks all day long.
If you’re living a life focused on your values people will almost know them automatically from the way that you speak, the actions that you take, and the life that you lead. I’m hoping that when you hear that the core values for my business are harmony, family, intention, love, generosity, and excellence you thought, “Yep, that makes sense.” That’s my goal is that everything I do in my business guides me towards those values. You can actually see my full list of core values for inkWELL Press and the statements I use to define each of them at inkwellpress.com/about.
Gandhi once said, “Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.” As we talk through this season of investing in yourself and really looking at who the person is that you want to be, values are so important because that is helping align your destiny with where it is you want to go. I’m really excited for you to grab that free download. Again you can find that at inkwellpress.com/podcast under episode 58. In my mini episode called The Weekender this week, I’m going to be sharing the person in my life who I believe embodied their core values on a daily basis and how he did that. Next week we are going to be continuing talking about investing in yourself by talking about being protective of your time. In the meantime, if you’d like to connect with me you can find me in my free Facebook group at inkwellpress.com/group. I’d love to see you there. Until next time, happy planning.
Thanks for listening to Productivity Paradox from inkWELL Press. To join Tanya’s free groups simply go to inkwellpress.com/group.