If someone asked you, “What’s your personal philosophy?” would you know how to answer them?
You probably have some idea of what’s important to you, but have you ever created a statement that sums it up?
Look at a list of personal values, and some will stand out for you.
We all have different reasons for our goals and actions.
Everything you do has a purpose, even if you don’t consciously acknowledge it.
Every successful person has chosen to follow a philosophy based on their core values.
You can do the same. But first, you need to know precisely what that is.
- What Is a Personal Philosophy?
- How to Create Your Personal Philosophy
- 11 Personal Philosophy Examples
- 1. Do no harm.
- 2. There are no failures — just results to learn from.
- 3. You are here to make good things happen.
- 4. Keep stretching and challenging yourself.
- 5. The flow state is where the magic happens.
- 6. You don’t have to understand everything.
- 7. Personal integrity should guide every action.
- 8. Impact matters more than intent.
- 9. Be mindful in both your personal and professional life.
- 10. Learn by doing.
- 11. Be bold, and have big dreams.
- Ready to write your personal philosophy?
What Is a Personal Philosophy?
You make daily choices to work towards a goal. Smaller goals guide your days, while long-term goals guide months and years of your life. All of those goals are based on your core values, which determine the rules you live by.
Those rules are known as your personal philosophies. Some of these philosophies may be tied to your religion or culture, but philosophies vary from person to person even within those frameworks.
You can base your personal philosophy on the following questions:
- What are you passionate about? Or what inspires you?
- How would you describe your ideal life?
- What elements or values do your passions and ideal life have in common?
- What habits do you have that relate to those values?
- How would you sum up your goals and outlook on life, using these values?
How to Create Your Personal Philosophy
Now you have a general idea of what it is, how do you write a personal philosophy?
We’ve outlined a few steps to help you if you don’t know where to start.
- Start with a list of 10 to 20 personal values.
- Narrow down your list to 3 to 5 core values.
- Think about why each of these values is so important to you.
- For each one, write about how you put those values into daily practice.
- Connect each value to your long-term goals and aspirations.
- Write a few sentences about how these values define and guide you.
- Condense those into one sentence that sums up your primary motivation.
If you’d like some help identifying your values, look at our extensive list of 400 value words.
11 Personal Philosophy Examples
Your personal philosophy will no doubt resonate with others. And it will express values like the ones you’ll see in the following life philosophy examples, each of which are important for everyone. Read these for inspiration and to help you articulate your own.
1. Do no harm.
Striving for success is a good thing only if it does not harm others. A victory that comes at someone else’s expense won’t get you closer to becoming a person you’d be proud of.
When you undertake a challenge, commit to doing whatever it takes to get the best result for everyone involved — and for everyone likely to be affected by it.
The more you value your connection to other humans and all life, the less you’ll want to be part of something that violates the rights of any.
Respect others enough to be conscious of how your words and actions affect them to choose the best way forward. And look beyond the surface to see which endeavors genuinely seek the good of all.
2. There are no failures — just results to learn from.
Tenacity is behind this philosophy; no matter what happens to you, you keep going. No matter how many less-than-desirable results you get, you keep moving toward your goal and taking action to get closer to it.
You know that every so-called failure is just a result you can learn from, and you view setbacks with a growth mindset to seek out the lesson.
You look at what went wrong or what you can do to get a better result next time. And you try again.
You don’t accept failure because every result that falls short of your hopes teaches you more than you might expect.. Every faltering step is still a step.
3. You are here to make good things happen.
This is your philosophy (or part of it) If you believe your purpose in life is to make good things happen for the people in your world — those you love, those in your community, and those beyond it.
You’re here to make the world better, one person and one action at a time. You believe your life won’t be well-spent unless you have a positive impact on those around you.
All things in moderation, though. If you take on too much responsibility, you’ll always feel that it’s not enough whatever you do. And you’ll burn out.
Be as kind and compassionate toward yourself as you are to others.
4. Keep stretching and challenging yourself.
This one is about courage since it requires you to step outside your comfort zone. You know that a world of life-changing opportunities exists outside it.
How can you do this?
- Take a hard look at your comfort zone and what it’s kept you from doing.
- Commit to doing something that seems beyond your present ability.
- Watch those who’ve accomplished things you think are beyond your ability.
- Learn what they’re doing differently, and do it yourself (as long as it does no harm).
- If you don’t know what to do, act as if you do, and take action.
Take it one step at a time, but keep stepping. Keep trying new things. Continue asking yourself challenging questions. Don’t wait for someone else to challenge you.
5. The flow state is where the magic happens.
Cognitive understanding is great, but if you’ve ever been in a state of creative flow, you know that the difference between the flow state and cognitive understanding is like the difference between intuition and reasoning.
There are advantages to letting go of conscious control and allowing the flow to take you over. You become a conduit of thoughts, ideas, and feelings you didn’t know were accessible to you.
Getting into a flow state indeed takes more than willingness. But once you learn how to access that state, you won’t be content with what your conscious mind can figure out.
And you’ll want to help others experience the same creative flow.
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6. You don’t have to understand everything.
Having a full life doesn’t require a full understanding of everything that matters to you. How boring would life be if you already had everything figured out?
Life is a lot more fun when you still have learning to do. It’s more exciting to visit a place that’s different from any you’ve seen before. Everyone has a bit of the explorer in them.
And the goal of the explorer isn’t to understand everything they see or even everything they study. It’s to learn and to broaden their perspective.
An authentic learning experience should change you in some way. It should make you more than you were.
7. Personal integrity should guide every action.
Integrity is wholeness. When you act with integrity, you behave in a manner consistent with your beliefs. Operating outside of your values undermines your integrity. It divides you.
Commit to always acting with integrity, and people will know what to expect of you. They’ll trust you to comport yourself in a way that reflects your moral code.
Granted, your beliefs may change and your behavior with it. If you turn away from beliefs you’ve held onto for years and continue to act with integrity, people are likely to notice the change.
But once they know the reason for it, they’re more likely to respect you for acting in agreement with your current beliefs — even if they contrast sharply with older ones.
8. Impact matters more than intent.
However noble your intentions, if someone’s experience causes them to receive your words or actions in a way you don’t intend, you owe it to both of you to take a closer look.
If relationships matter more to you than being right, the impact of your words should matter more than your intent. Never assume it’s the other person’s fault for taking your comments “the wrong way.”
If you first send the wrong message, apologize, learn where you went wrong, and try again. Learn how others can interpret your words based on their experiences. Your filter is yours, and your experience is not universal.
9. Be mindful in both your personal and professional life.
It’s important to stop regularly and look inward. Pay attention to what you’re feeling or thinking, whether you’re relaxed, anxious, or somewhere in the middle.
Don’t judge yourself for thinking or feeling things that don’t seem to fit the person you want to be. You’re human, and you’re still getting to know yourself and the person you want to grow into.
Practicing mindfulness helps you stay connected to the source of your actions. And the more aware you are of what’s going on behind the scenes, the easier it is to build new habits that are consistent with your values.
10. Learn by doing.
As valuable as book-learning is, and as much as you can learn from watching YouTube videos, nothing can replace actually doing the thing. Don’t worry if you don’t do it correctly — or even well. Practice will help you improve.
It also makes you less afraid of “looking bad.” If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.
Ever met a toddler who was too afraid of falling or looking bad to make the first step? We aren’t born afraid of failing. That’s something we learn as we get older.
Think of dance as another example. Your first attempts are not going to be pretty. But people are inspired by those who love dancing too much to worry about how they look.
Do what you love. And never be afraid to try something new.
11. Be bold, and have big dreams.
You don’t like being boxed in by low expectations. Maybe others think your ideas are “extra” or over the top, but you think, “Why bother dreaming if the dream is just a slightly better version of reality?”
You want real change. You want transformation. Whatever others think of it, your metamorphosis will inspire other big dreamers to follow your lead.
After all, what has timidity or “fitting in” ever done for you? You’re either your authentic, bold self, or you’re sleep-walking through life.
Or maybe you don’t see yourself as bold, but you’d like to be more proactive than you have been. You feel the drive in you, and you’re ready to discover where it will lead.
Be brave. Even if your boldness doesn’t make you rich, you’ll like yourself better for taking the risk.
Ready to write your personal philosophy?
Now that you’ve looked through these personal philosophy examples, which ones resonate the most? Or what comes to mind when you make a list of your own personal values?
Think of incidents where someone impressed you by the way they practiced one of those values. Or remember a moment when you were proud of yourself. What were you proudest of?
Writing down your thoughts can help you better understand why you do the things you do. And you’ll be that much closer to articulating your personal philosophy.
Once you do, write it where you’ll see it every day.