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This blog post is Part 7 in a 14-part blog series on discovering and living your mission. (If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.) In this blog post, we will explore one final exercise to help you clarify your purpose: identifying your core values.

Values involve what you think is important. We all have a set of values, and these values guide our decisions throughout our lives. Values are linked to goals, which motivate our actions and behaviors.

Sometimes, however, we can lose sight of our values. We live in a busy, crowded world, and we can get distracted. We might make what seems like a small decision here or there, but even a small decision can take us off course. Before too long, our life can feel disconnected from our core values, which causes us to struggle. Because of this, it can be helpful to get clear about our values, and remind ourselves of our values on a consistent basis.

Shalom Schwartz is a psychologist who dedicated his career to studying values. He says there are ten primary values that motivate and direct the behavior of human beings. I have listed the ten values below, along with the overarching goal that is connected to each value. As you read each value, think about how important the value is to you personally. Is this value a driving force in your life? Or is it not that big of a deal for you?

  1. Self-direction. Main goal is independent thought and action—choosing, creating, exploring.
  2. Stimulation: Main goal is excitement, novelty, and challenge in life.
  3. Hedonism: Main goal is pleasure or sensuous gratification for oneself.
  4. Achievement: Main goal is personal success through demonstrating competence according to social standards.
  5. Power: Main goal is social status and prestige, control or dominance over people and resources.
  6. Security: Main goal is safety, harmony, and stability of society, relationships, and the self.
  7. Conformity: Main goal is restraint of actions, inclinations, and impulses likely to upset or harm others and violate social expectations and norms.
  8. Tradition: Main goal is respect, commitment, and acceptance of the customs and ideas that one’s culture or religion provides.
  9. Benevolence: Main goal is preserving and enhancing the welfare of those with whom one is in frequent personal contact (the ‘in-group’).
  10. Universalism: Main goal is understanding, appreciation, tolerance, and protection for the welfare of all people and for nature.

Take some time to think and reflect on the ten values. Try to identify the top 3 values that are important to you. Spend some time journaling about these 3 values. Why are these values most important to you? Then think about how you spend most of your time. Do most of your daily activities line up with your top 3 values? Can you see any connection between your top 3 values and your purpose? How might your top 3 values inform your “why?”

Click here to read Part 8: Explore the How

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