How To Define Your Core Values And Beliefs?

Living a purposeful and fulfilling life only happens when we live according to our core values and following our personal beliefs. But then, how can you align your actions to your core values and beliefs? It all begins with knowing how to define your personal values and core beliefs to live true to yourself.

A lot of times, we struggle in decision-making and finding direction in our day-to-day life situations. This murky dilemma clears out when we have our list of values and beliefs clearly defined.  They are like the needle in a compass, pointing in the direction of a meaningful and fulfilling life, full of passion and purpose.

Rather than being extrinsically influenced by media, pop culture, and trending habits/activities, you can choose to live true to yourself.

How To Define Your Core Values And Beliefs (With 120+ Examples)

While this world is ever changing oh so rapidly, (and we have to adapt to the changes) your values should never change. They are the one thing that keeps you grounded while everything else is like shifting, sinking sand.

In this article, we will be discovering how to define personal values and beliefs and some examples of these values and beliefs to get you well on the way to finding yours.

What Are Personal Values?

Personal values are the things we hold important to us, the behaviors and attributes that guide our decisions and motivate us to action. Personal values serve as personal guiding principles to our actions and decisions.

Personal values differ from person to person and can be shaped by such factors as culture, life experiences, and other experiences, including those while growing up.

Let’s take an example: you may value honesty. You believe you should be honest in any and every situation, and you believe it is critical always to express who you are and what you think without fear or compromise, and when you do compromise and fail to speak your mind, you may feel disappointed in yourself.

Perhaps your value is kindness. You’re keen to help others at every opportunity you get, and you consider generosity as a way of life as you give your time and resources to worthy causes, family, and friends.

Now, these are just two examples of personal values, and there can be limitless possibilities.

By the way if you’re a business owner, you want your business values to flow from your personal values. When we are working with clients we begin with personal, because your business should be the vehicle by which to achieve your personal goals in life.

Now, you may be wondering, do I really need a personal value statement? Well, let’s talk about that for a bit.

Why It Matters To Have A Value Statement

When you live according to your values, you’re more likely to feel better and fulfilled. It also means you’ll likely feel bad about yourself when you fail to live according to your values. Thus, personal values help us live a life of fulfillment and purpose, being able to enjoy our lives when we live according to our values. It applies to both the micro day-to-day decisions as well as the significant life-altering steps we take.

For example, if you value adventure, then you’ll always feel unsatisfied, compressed, and caged up when others pressure you into taking paths that lead away from adventure into the “safe” route. It can apply to being pressured away from a life of travels to a desk job or settled home life, etc.; with such a value statement, paths that involve risks, new ventures, and challenges will accrue fulfillment and satisfaction.

But if your value statement takes the polar opposite of security, as opposed to adventure, then the reverse is true. Taking on the life of travel and risk in starting your own business and being your own boss may leave you feeling insecure, disappointed, and craving a more settled existence.

Each individual is different, and what excites one may leave another feeling wanting and anxious. It is, thus, essential to define your values and live by them to have a meaningful existence, one full of happiness, fulfillment, and peace, even when those values don’t seem to ride well with others.

Types Of Personal Values

There are universally ten distinct types of values, motivationally distinct and applicable in cross-cultural spheres, as presented by Schwartz (1992):

  • Achievement, e.g., determined, successful
  • Benevolence, e.g., forgiving, loyal, responsible, supportive
  • Conformity, e.g., politeness, restraint, respect
  • Hedonism, e.g., indulgent, pleasure
  • Power, e.g., wealth, authority
  • Security, e.g., social order, cleanliness
  • Self-direction, e.g., freedom, originality
  • Stimulation, e.g., exciting life, daring
  • Tradition, e.g., devout, respect for traditions, modest
  • Universalism, e.g., equality, wisdom, the world of peace, social justice, protecting the environment

The list of personal values can be numerically indefinite but would each fit into one of these ten categories. There is no universal list of values from which to reference, as each individual will develop his/her list of values, assigning a unique degree of priority to each.

What Are Core Beliefs?

Core beliefs are generalized and fundamental beliefs held about self, the world, and the future, on an individual level. Core beliefs are absolute and instrumental in understanding the world around us. Core beliefs guide an individual in making decisions and responding to events as they happen. Beliefs are usually constituted from childhood or at any other formative experience in life.

Sources Of Beliefs

  • Association: beliefs can be synthesized as we interact and associate with other people.
  • Authority: Beliefs could be developed from an authority figure in the life of an individual, usually a parent, religious leader, school teacher, etc.
  • Evidence: Beliefs could be logically and rationally synthesized from evidence or proven axioms.
  • Revelation: Beliefs could also be based upon revelation – divine or a hunch.
  • Tradition: Beliefs could be developed from traditions, family, and society.

Categories Of Beliefs

As seen from the definition of beliefs, they can be categorized based on self, others, the world, and the future. They can either be positive or negative.


“I am strong and able to do it.”

“I am weak and incapable of succeeding.”


“People like me for who I am.”

“People are disloyal and not to be trusted.”

The World

“The world is full of opportunities and adventure!”

“The world is a dangerous place.”

The Future

“The future is bright, and success awaits me.”

“There is no hope – things will keep getting worse.”

Types Of Beliefs – Enabling vs. Limiting Beliefs

Enabling (Positive) Beliefs

Enabling beliefs generally portray optimism and good self-efficacy – the self-belief that you can achieve something.  Enabling beliefs portray positivity.

Some examples of enabling (positive) beliefs include:

  • I am able
  • I am intelligent
  • I always try my best
  • I am hardworking

Limiting (Negative) Beliefs

Negative beliefs are limiting beliefs that can hold an individual back from attaining personal potentials. People with limiting beliefs usually regard these beliefs as absolute, even though they are largely inaccurate and unhelpful to the individual. Individuals with such negative beliefs can be judgmental of themselves and others.

Some examples of limiting (negative) beliefs include:

  • I am not smart
  • I am weak
  • I am a disappointment
  • I am unlovable
  • I always fail
  • I am worthless

It is important to note that beliefs, whether enabling or limiting, aren’t always accurate and can sometimes mislead into making poor decisions due to their inaccuracy. At the same time, people with inaccurate enabling beliefs can sometimes make decisions based on inaccurate beliefs that score them a better life. People with inaccurate limiting beliefs can sometimes easily suffer from depression and anxiety.

Defining Your Personal Core Values

The key to a lasting house is the strength of its foundation. No matter how beautiful a house is, it will sink to the ground without a study found. The same holds for your values. As a foundation is to a lasting house, core values are instrumental in our decisions, actions, and behaviors.

Without a base, you lose a sense of purpose, fulfillment, and direction. You may appear to be a success but still feel empty and lost. Until you clearly define what success means to you, you may end up chasing empty accomplishments and never be truly fulfilled.

What you don’t define, you may violate inadvertently and end up feeling guilty, ashamed, and not knowing why.

When people have a clearly defined list of personal values, the following holds true for them:

  • It’s a lot easier for them to make the big decisions and steps that have macro-consequences on their lives regarding passions, careers, and relationships.
  • They are less likely to indulge in destructive thought patterns, especially when the going gets rough.
  • They have a greater tolerance for physical pain.
  • They are more self-disciplined and focused.
  • They quickly establish stronger social connections.

To define your personal core values list, start to look inside to uncover what matters to you. It may take some time and a lot of digging deep to find what works for you.

One size does not fit all when it comes to core values, as each individual may have a different set of core values. So, it may not just be as simple as looking through a list and picking some values to go by; spend some time in personal reflection to discover yourself.

Here are some questions to start you out on this self-discovery journey. As you think about them, be sure to write down answers as they’d serve as clues to identifying your unique personal core values.

Who do you admire?

It is helpful to identify real-life examples of people you admire and look up to. Carefully consider and write down some role models you admire whose meaningful lives inspire you. This could be people you know, characters out of a book/movie, etc.

Specifically, you’ll want to note down

  • What, particularly, about them inspires you
  • The admirable qualities they possess
  • Specific behaviors you would like to emulate

What inspires you to act?

Most often than not, personal core values often manifest through actions and behaviors. Was there ever a situation where you took a stand for someone or something? Why did you feel so strongly to act?

Try writing down:

  • the feelings that pushed you to act or speak up
  • the risk you were willing to take at that moment
  • the consequences of acting — what you gained or lost

When do you feel most like yourself?

When the situation presents itself that permits you to react with external influence/pressures, it clarifies your values. And when you do betray your core values, the feeling of shame and guilt sets in, and you feel defiled.

In situations you feel wrong, guilty, or ashamed, you should write down:

  • who you’re with
  • the exact feelings being triggered
  • emotionally and physically cost of the experience

In situations you feel authentic and genuine, write down:

  • who you’re with
  • the exact activities involved
  • positive emotions as a result of these experiences

If you find it hard articulating the words that describe the qualities or emotions you feel from the exercises above, it may be helpful going through a list of values. Here are some examples.

List Of Core Values

  1. Abundance
  2. Achievement
  3. Advancement
  4. Adventure
  5. Affection
  6. Appreciation
  7. Balance
  8. Be True
  9. Beauty
  10. Career
  11. Caring
  12. Change
  13. Charisma
  14. Clarity
  15. Commitment
  16. Commonality
  17. Communication
  18. Compassion
  19. Connection
  20. Consistency
  21. Contentment
  22. Contributing
  23. Cooperation
  24. Courage
  25. Creativity
  26. Dependability
  27. Determination
  28. Diversity
  29. Education
  30. Effectiveness
  31. Efficiency
  32. Encouragement
  33. Endurance
  34. Enjoyment
  35. Entertain
  36. Entrepreneurial
  37. Environmentalism
  38. Excellence
  39. Excitement
  40. Facilitation
  41. Faith
  42. Fame
  43. Family
  44. Finances
  45. Finesse
  46. Forgiveness
  47. Freedom
  48. Friendship
  49. Relationship
  50. Fun-Loving
  51. Generosity
  52. Giving People a Chance
  53. Good humor
  54. Goodness
  55. Grace
  56. Gratitude
  57. Happiness
  58. Harmony
  59. Health
  60. Home
  61. Honesty
  62. Humanity
  63. Humor
  64. Independence
  65. Innovation
  66. Integrity
  67. Intelligence
  68. Invention
  69. Involvement
  70. Influence
  71. Joy/Play
  72. Justice
  73. Kindness
  74. Knowledge
  75. Leadership
  76. Learning
  77. Love
  78. Love of Career
  79. Loyalty
  80. Motivation
  81. Open-mindedness
  82. Openness
  83. Optimism
  84. Order
  85. Passion
  86. Patience
  87. Patriotism
  88. Peace
  89. Perfection
  90. Perseverance
  91. Personal Development
  92. Positivity
  93. Power
  94. Pride in Your Work
  95. Professionalism
  96. Prosperity
  97. Quality
  98. Reciprocity
  99. Relationship
  100. Reliability
  101. Religion
  102. Renewal
  103. Respect
  104. Security
  105. Self-Respect
  106. Service to others
  107. Simplicity
  108. Sincerity
  109. Speed
  110. Spiritualism
  111. Spontaneity
  112. Strength
  113. Success
  114. Teamwork
  115. This-too-shall-pass Attitude
  116. Trusting Your Gut
  117. Understanding
  118. Wealth
  119. Wellness
  120. Willingness
  121. Wisdom
  122. Work Smarter and Harder

By Alan Melton

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