Your core values are the guiding principles of your life that help you determine your behavior, words, and actions.
It's essential to your personal evolution to take stock of your values on a regular basis, and then make the necessary changes to align your life with these most important core values (also called personal values).
(Don't have time to read the entire article? Then click here to get a free printable list of 400 personal core values.
- What are core values?
- How to Find Your List of Core Values
- The Ultimate List of Personal Core Values
- 1. Accountability
- 2. Awareness
- 3. Balance
- 4. Beauty
- 5. Boldness
- 6. Calmness
- 7. Cleanliness
- 8. Closeness
- 9. Commitment
- 10. Compassion
- 11. Confidence
- 12. Connection
- 13. Consciousness
- 14. Contentment
- 15. Cooperation
- 16. Courage
- 17. Creativity
- 18. Decisiveness
- 19. Determination
- 20. Dependability
- 21. Dignity
- 22. Diligence
- 23. Discipline
- 24. Discovery
- 25. Diversity
- 26. Duty
- 27. Education
- 28. Effectiveness
- 29. Empathy
- 30. Encouragement
- 31. Excellence
- 32. Experience
- 33. Expertise
- 34. Exploration
- 35. Fairness
- 36. Faith
- 37. Flexibility
- 38. Focus
- 39. Freedom
- 40. Frugality
- 41. Fun
- 42. Generosity
- 43. Gratitude
- 44. Growth
- 45. Happiness
- 46. Health
- 47. Honesty
- 48. Hopefulness
- 49. Humility
- 50. Humor
- 51. Integrity
- 52. Intimacy
- 53. Intuition
- 54. Kindness
- 55. Leadership
- 56. Learning
- 57. Love
- 58. Loyalty
- 59. Mindfulness
- 60. Moderation
- 61. Motivation
- 62. Openness
- 63. Optimism
- 64. Organization
- 65. Originality
- 66. Passion
- 67. Peacefulness
- 68. Persuasiveness
- 69. Professionalism
- 70. Reason (or Logic)
- 71. Resilience
- 72. Respect
- 73. Sacrifice
- 74. Security
- 75. Sensitivity
- 76. Sensuality
- 77. Serenity
- 78. Significance
- 79. Simplicity
- 80. Sincerity
- 81. Spirituality
- 82. Stability
- 83. Strength
- 84. Structure
- 85. Success
- 86. Support
- 87. Sympathy
- 88. Thoughtfulness
- 89. Thrift
- 90. Timeliness
- 91. Trust
- 92. Understanding
- 93. Uniqueness
- 94. Usefulness
- 95. Virtue
- 96. Vision
- 97. Warmth
- 98. Wealth
- 99. Wisdom
- 100. Worthiness
- Why You Need To Establish Your Personal Values
What are core values?
Your core values tell you what you consider important or deeply meaningful. These personal values should reflect your life’s purpose and who you want to be.
Research confirms that your personal values, though subjective in nature, not only reveal what we feel about ourselves but also influence our attitudes, preferences, and behaviors.
Your values in life don’t arise spontaneously. You need to seek them out. Take some time to ask yourself what qualities you particularly admire in your parents, grandparents, and others who have influenced you.
- What common values does your family celebrate as defining traits?
- What values do they communicate that make you swell with pride?
- Consider the music you listen to, the books you read, your spiritual and political beliefs, your mentors, your friends, and other company you keep.
- Do you feel a strong compulsion to ensure your children pick up the same values?
- What qualities do you want to be known for? What words elicit an immediate positive emotional response from you?
Maybe you already have at least a vague idea of what’s important to you.
But how great would it be to have a clearer understanding of those values and how they define you and your life’s purpose?
How to Find Your List of Core Values
Creating your own list of personal values helps you focus more on cultivating those values in yourself and finding ways to pass them on.
Step #1: Ask yourself questions about good values.
To create this list of personal values, you can ask yourself the following questions and write down your answers:
- What do I look for in a friend or spouse? In a mentor or guide?
- How do I respond in a crisis or other difficult situation?
- What qualities would I expect to see in the best version of myself?
- How do I interact with people, and how do I treat them?
- What qualities in my parents, grandparents, ancestors do I admire?
- What choices have I made in the past that made me proud?
- What makes me angry or frustrated revealing repressed values I may have?
- What gives me a sense of fulfillment and meaning?
Step #2: Identify core value themes.
As you look through the list of core values, you will see that some words have similar meanings or fall into a specific “theme.”
Group these words together and give them an overarching value word that you choose from your list of personal values.
For example, the words calmness, simplicity, and peacefulness may fall under a “mindfulness” theme.
Remember, you don't have to choose common values that you think you should prioritize. Select those that resonate most with what you want for your life.
Step #3: Narrow it down.
When you go through the list of values below, probably many of them (around 20 or so is not unusual) will stand out as more important or more meaningful to you than the others.
Then when you go through that smaller list, some will stand out more than the rest. See you if can reduce your personal core values list to no more than ten core values.
You may even want to consider what are your top 3 personal values that define who you are.
Step #4: Prioritize them.
See if you can rank your list of personal core values so you clarify what is most important to you.
This may take some time, but do your best to examine where the buck stops for you.
Of course, your priorities will change and evolve over time, so consider this on-going work you revisit yearly to ensure you are prioritizing the correct values.
Ready to get started? Begin by reviewing the list below.
The Ultimate List of Personal Core Values
Below are 100 core values examples with explanations for each. But you'll find PDF download further down on the page with 400 human values to give you a broader list.
As you read through these examples of values, ask yourself, “What are my values?” Remember to select those that feel authentic to you — the personal ideals you hold dear.
You take responsibility for your actions and their consequences, and you respect others who do the same.
You take pride in your conscious awareness of what exists or is happening around you – as well as within you.
You want everything in your life to be in the right proportion to everything else; no one thing dominates your life.
You make time to enjoy everything you perceive with your senses that makes you feel an inexplicable surge of happiness.
Those who are bold aren’t necessarily fearless; they’re just good at giving the impression that they are.
Think of the stillness of a lake’s surface when nothing disturbs it.
Essentially, this is the absence of any filth or contaminant — and you work to maintain it.
This word implies intimacy or a strong personal bond, especially between people.
Commitment is the difference between a goal and a daydream; it involves decisive action.
When someone has hurt you, you value sympathy and forgiveness more than the chance to punish them.
You have unshakable faith in your own powers or rightness of purpose or a strong desire to feel that faith.
Without a deep, personal connection, you can’t feel attracted to someone.
Living intentionally means living consciously, but you may be seeking consciousness on a higher level.
Contentment is a mental or emotional state of satisfaction wrapped in peacefulness.
You value your ability to work toward a common goal as part of a team; meaningful collaboration is central to your mission.
Courage is the ability to do what needs to be done in spite of fear.
Creativity uses the imagination to create new things and find new solutions to problems.
You place a high value on your capacity for making decisions quickly and effectively.
Determination is a firmness of purpose in spite of challenges in the relentless pursuit of a goal.
Others can count on you to do everything possible to keep your commitments, and you want the same from them.
You feel strongly that people should be treated in a way that show’s respect for them as fully conscious equals.
Someone who is diligent is persistent and careful in his work or other efforts.
Think of this as a set of expectations for yourself or others and the means used to enforce them.
This is the act of finding out or learning something new through exploration or experimentation.
You’re committed to exposing yourself to and appreciating the diversity of cultures, experiences, and beliefs in the world.
Think of the moral or legal obligations that bind you or someone else — and your commitment to seeing those obligations are met.
Consider this the process of learning through study, exploration, instruction, experimentation, or recreation.
Something is effective if it succeeds in producing the desired result.
You feel what others feel, and you probably consider this empathic value as an essential part of your identity.
You cherish the ability to give hope to others and build up their confidence.
To excel is to be outstanding in something or to have an exceptional degree of some knowledge or ability.
This can be a felt encounter with something or the foundation of your superior knowledge and understanding of something.
You embrace the title of expert in your field because you excel in your knowledge or skill
If you enjoy traveling in or through new places to learn about them, you have the heart of an explorer.
With your strong sense of justice, you insist on equal pay for the same amount and quality of work.
Faith is complete trust in someone or something, and it stands apart from both fanaticism and complacency.
You place a high value on your ability to bend easily without breaking — physically, mentally, or emotionally.
You pride yourself on your ability to focus on something (or someone) to the exclusion of everything else.
Freedom is the ability to do what you must without interference from external or internal forces.
You take pride in the way you handle your finances and in your avoidance of waste and unnecessary expenditure.
You look for ways to delight or amuse others to enhance their enjoyment of life — and your own; making time for fun is a priority.
You enjoy giving of yourself and of your time and other resources to others, and you want to pass along this value to your children.
It’s vitally important to you to show thankfulness and express your appreciation for the good things in your life.
You invest a considerable amount of your time and energy in your own personal development and in that of others.
Experiencing and sharing joy, satisfaction, and contentment are high priorities for you.
You prioritize a wholesome diet and an effective fitness regimen. You might start running or some other easy-to-begin workout to solidify health habits. You also recognize the value of self-care to your well-being.
You place a high value on truthfulness in others, and you’ve made sacrifices to develop or preserve this quality in yourself.
You pride yourself on your optimism or sanguine perspective on the future.
Humble people base their self-worth on what they know to be true about themselves, and this makes them immune to the opinions of others.
You prioritize laughter for yourself and seek to bring more of it to others.
Integrity is when your actions and words are in congruence with your beliefs.
Intimacy can refer to close relationships or to activities that bring two people closer together.
Gut-level directions and insights are your 24-7 copilot (or maybe even your pilot).
You treat people exactly as you would want to be treated, and your kindness attracts others.
The motto, “Throw me to the wolves, and I’ll return leading the pack” resonates strongly with you.
You find opportunities for learning everywhere you go, and you can’t imagine your education ending before you do.
To show and to experience love in its fullness is inseparable from your will to live and your sense of self.
You expect the people close to you to be unwavering in their faithfulness, just as you are to them; loyalty is love put to the test.
Living in the present moment and enjoying all the good things in it — with intention and gratitude — is vital to you.
You enjoy all good things in modest or measured amounts — all the better to savor them and leave more for others.
You breathe in motivation throughout the day and keep the fire in you stoked and ready; you also love to motivate others.
You leave your eyes, your mind, and your heart open to new people, new knowledge, and new experiences.
You believe your tendency to focus on blessings and expect more of them is more in alignment with the truth than pessimism.
You value order — keeping everything in its place and making it easier to keep your spaces clean, clutter-free, and calming.
You love the novelty and buzz of new ideas, adventures, and artistic expressions; you breathe originality into each new creation.
You feel fully alive and electric about your life, your purpose, your relationships, and the work you do.
Life is too short to spend it in turmoil; let there be calm, forgiveness, and harmony within you and in your relationships.
You value the power of communicating effectively and persuading others to do things or to share your perspective.
Professionalism is kindness in a business suit; you treat your customers, coworkers, and other contacts as equals.
70. Reason (or Logic)
Dismantling poorly-constructed arguments and countering them with effective reasoning is your Legoland.
Your life motto could be “Use it,” because no pain or mistake is ever wasted — and you never give up.
Whether it’s authority, accomplishments, or service, you feel compelled to honor it with a certain degree of deference.
You know that real love involves sacrifice — giving up something good for something better or to serve someone else.
You want to feel free or safe from danger or the threat of violence to you or to those you care about.
Your greater susceptibility to pain comes with a greater receptivity to beauty and inspiration.
You’ll try anything once and some things on a daily basis, if possible — just to enjoy the sense experience.
You value your peace of mind so much, you prioritize words and actions that help you preserve it.
It’s not enough for you to get stuff done; that stuff has to have deep personal meaning or it has to contribute to a meaningful goal.
You like to keep things simple and to expel things from your life that make you feel cluttered inside or tied down by a million threads.
You’re drawn to genuine people, even if they’re not always nice; you admire their authenticity and work to emulate it.
You believe not only in the existence of spirits but also their power and your ability to connect with others through your own.
You need to feel that each step will meet solid, level ground; you hate uncertainty and imbalance and look for ways to correct both.
You cultivate bodily strength as well as inner fortitude, and you recognize and admire it in others.
The best stories (and buildings, etc.) have a solid, reliable structure, and you appreciate this when you see it.
Essentially this word means you’ve obtained the results you wanted — ideally without doing something you’ll regret.
You want to feel supported by others, and to be the kind of person others can count on for support when they need it.
Rather than rush to judgment, you put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to see the situation from their perspective.
You put thought into the gifts you give and the actions you take for others, and you appreciate it when others do the same.
You spend as little as you can on everything from food to clothing to that new (to you) used car — regardless of your income.
You value other people’s time and expect them to return the favor by being punctual and finishing things in a timely manner.
You want people to know they can count on you to keep their secrets and have their backs, and you want to be able to expect the same.
When you truly know someone or something, you comprehend them with your heart as well as your mind.
You delight in your own uniqueness, and you enjoy helping others appreciate how they are unique and why it matters.
You value utility in the things you hold onto. You also strive to make yourself useful when the situation calls for it.
You appreciate virtue when you see it in others, and you work at cultivating it in yourself.
You see things most others miss, and you pursue things most others consider impossible.
Warm and messy trumps cold and immaculate every time; it’s all about the people.
You want to never have to wonder, “Do I have enough in the bank?” Wealth means living your life without being limited by money.
True and profound insights into people and things are a defining characteristic for you — or one you greatly admire in others.
You feel renewed when someone or something reminds you of your worth.
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Why You Need To Establish Your Personal Values
Ultimately, knowing your core values is essential to knowing yourself and the power you possess.
Knowing those values is a prerequisite to creating a life in alignment with them.
In order to live intentionally, you need to be aware of the values behind your own words and actions and the values you want to see in yourself and to pass along to your children.
The more your life aligns with your core values, the better able you are to discover your purpose, to grow in that direction, and to contribute in the way only you can.
Need more specific motivators? Consider the following:
- Your Relationships: If you know your values, it becomes easier to identify those who share those values and those who do not.
- Your Peace of Mind: If something in your life is contrary to your values, you experience cognitive dissonance; this conflicted state prevents growth and even pushes you in the opposite direction.
- Your Legacy or Influence: If you know your personal values, you can decide which ones you want to pass along to your children — and how you’ll do that.
- Your Time: If you know your core values, you can stop wasting time jumping from one thing to another; you’ll have a better understanding of what fulfills you and why.
- Your Attention (and all that goes with it): Knowing your values and the ones you want to live by makes it easier to cut things out of your life that draw your attention away from what you truly consider important.
Ready to make your personal core values list?
Have the examples of values listed above helped you identify the ones that define you?
Are you ready to make your own list and to whittle it down to your top ten?
For now, don’t try to copy every word that makes you think, “Well, that’s a good value to have.” There are no bad values in the list, but some will feel more familiar and motivating to you than others will. Go with your gut.
And when you’ve made your list, why not challenge others you know to make their own lists and compare notes.
See which values you hold in common and invite them to elaborate on the values that differ from yours, so you can better understand them.
And may your curiosity and passion for growth influence everything else you do today.