What’s the Value of Knowing Your Core Values?

core values

Did you know that your personal core values play a huge role in determining whether or not you experience a sense of satisfaction from reaching your goals in life? Did you know that if you don’t take the time to figure out what your core values and standards are, you can easily undermine your own success without even realizing it?

Just to be clear, we are not just talking about success in business.  We are talking about success in life and how your core values relate to your personal sense of self-worth, your relationships, and your level of joy and satisfaction.

If you want to have a life that feels satisfying and worthwhile, you must be clear on what is right and what is wrong according to your personal code of ethics. That’s what forms the bases of your core values.

Justification creates internal conflict

When we want something in life, there is a tendency to justify our actions and excuse behavior that is out of harmony with our deep down sense of right and wrong.  We may not even know we are doing it on a conscious level, or we may minimize the situation, telling ourselves it’s no big deal.

The problem is, on a much deeper level, we have created conflict, an internal battleground between our core values and our actions.  If we allow ourselves to continue without correcting the problem, sooner or later that internal conflict will undermine our efforts and we will be forced to compensate.

Internal conflict robs us of our joy

How will we compensate?  It could be in any number of ways.  We may end up self-sabotaging our own success.  We might turn to excesses in an effort to drown out our internal discomfort.  Even if we manage to succeed on some level, the success we do have may be a hollow one, lacking any true sense of joy and satisfaction.

No matter how it plays out, an exceptional life filled with joy and inner harmony is only possible if we honor our core values and conduct ourselves within the boundaries of our personal code of ethics.

Getting to know your TRUE SELF

Before we start setting goals or choosing a direction for our life, we need to align with our personal core values and get very clear on what is acceptable and what is unacceptable.  That means we need to take the time to figure out who we are and what we stand for.

That might sound easy, but there is a little more to it.  You see, for us to get past our tendency to rationalize our own behavior, we need to discover why we feel something is right or wrong.  Why do we feel that it’s okay to do one thing, but not okay to do something else? What core values are influencing those feelings?

The best way to approach this is not with a long list of rules.  A much better approach is to develop a short list of the guiding principles that support our core values and that can be applied to every aspect of our lives.  Let me illustrate the difference between rules and principles.

Rules versus principles based on core values

In the US thousands of new rules, laws, ordinances, regulations and codes are added to the law books every year in an attempt to regulate how people behave and how they treat one another.  Now let’s compare the hundreds of thousands of written laws with one guiding principle. This simple principle is often referred to as the Golden Rule and it boils down to, we should treat others the way we would like them to treat us.

How eloquently simple and amazingly powerful that principle is. If everyone followed that one principle we would not need all of those thousands of rules and laws.  Obviously it would be next to impossible to get billions of people to live by a few good principles.  But we are not talking about billions of other people, we are only talking about one person, YOU.

Choose the high road

One of the most valuable things you can do for yourself is to develop a list of 3-5 guiding principles for your life. These principles will allow you to live in harmony with your core values and align your actions with your true  self. Doing so will help you avoid the consequences of living in a state of internal conflict.

This is such an important concept that in Find Your TRUE SELF I dedicated the entire second lesson of module one to teaching you exactly how to create your very own list of Guiding Principles for Internal Harmony. Having this list will provide you with a yardstick by which you can measure your thoughts, words and actions.  Living in harmony with your core values and standards will help bring a deep sense of satisfaction to everything you do in life.

Do you think there is value in knowing your core values?
Are you crystal clear on your personal core values?
The lines are open!

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If you’re ready to discover your core values and passions, and make a deeper connection with your true self, then you’re ready to Find Your TRUE SELF.


  1. Michelle Green February 9, 2008 Reply

    I totally agree and see people living in a state of self sabotage every day (I was once one of them!). It is definitely time for people to stop and think about their values and apply them in their every day activities.

    • Jonathan January 7, 2011 Reply

      Hi Michelle, even when people recognize their own self sabotaging behavior, they usually feel helpless to do anything about it. Why? Because they don’t know where it’s coming from. They are unaware of the inner conflict between their actions and their values.

  2. Stuart January 7, 2011 Reply

    Is there value in values? Certainly. Just the very word ‘value’ evokes images of goodness and worth.

    Applying this to our own values, whatever they may be, will strengthen them in our minds and hearts and make us proud.

    Thanks for sharing Jonathan, got me thinking :-)

    • Jonathan January 7, 2011 Reply

      Hi Stuart, I know it seems obvious, but sadly many have allowed their values to be dictated by outside influences rather than doing some deep personal reflection to discover their own.

  3. Sandra Lee January 7, 2011 Reply

    Hi Jonathan,
    I found this fascinating: “When we want something in life, there is a tendency to justify our actions and excuse behavior that is out of harmony with our deep down sense of right and wrong. We may not even know we are doing it on a conscious level, or we may minimize the situation, telling ourselves it’s no big deal.”

    I don’t think I generally operate that way at least in big ways. It might come into play in small ways.

    I’m quite clear on what my values are and I agree with you – know your values makes all the difference in the world in terms of living and meaningful and satisfying life. I really enjoyed the sections of your book that focus on connecting with our true values.

    • Jonathan January 7, 2011 Reply

      Hi Sandra, thanks for you support for my book as well as here on the blog. This is an area that can have such a profound influence on our quality of life and yet it is often passed over. It really is a core issue that no one can afford to ignore.

  4. Ande Waggener January 8, 2011 Reply

    I totally agree, Jonathan, that values are essential to a happy life. It’s like having a fence for your dog. It may seem confining, but the confinement is what actually gives us freedom. When people don’t have fences for their dogs, the dogs are often cooped up inside or tied up or they’re wandering in ways that aren’t safe. The same is true of valueless lives. A few core values give us a sort of playground area for our lives.

    I violated my values twice and paid high prices for it. Misalignment with your true self limits us in MANY ways.

    • Jonathan January 8, 2011 Reply

      Hi Ande, that is a great metaphor to explain how things that may seem restrictive can sometimes give us greater freedom. Commitment works much the same way.

  5. Shailender January 8, 2011 Reply

    Yes, I do think that there is value in having values as only values build the personality & personal standard not anything else, I like your concept to create a list of 3-5 guiding principles for life. I think everybody should develop their principles to live in harmony.

    • Jonathan January 8, 2011 Reply

      Hi Shailender, it is indeed a very empowering process to actually define our guiding principles and then write them down.

  6. gee January 8, 2011 Reply

    I’m wholly for choosing our direction in life and very much agree that this needs to be supported by our personal values and beliefs. Treating others in a way that we’d like to be treated ourselves, says it perfectly. When I think about it, this approach seems to resolve many more situations than I’d originally imagined! Thanks, Gee.

    • Jonathan January 8, 2011 Reply

      So right Gee, it really does solve a lot of issues because internal conflict is actually the source of a large percentage of those issues. It doesn’t make all of life’s problems disappear, but it does change how we experience those problems.

  7. Rocket Bunny January 8, 2011 Reply

    I value myself and the rules I have set down to follow even if I have cut across the grain of them from time to time. I bounce back over time. Hopefully,it doesn’t take a long time. I think you have to remember always who you are and love yourself no matter what. Failure or disappointment is stimulation for your character building. Besides being a part of life. I have always been told I’m a hard nut to crack.

    Enjoyed your article very much.

    • Jonathan January 8, 2011 Reply

      Thanks Bunny, glad you liked it. I don’t necessary think that every nut needs to be cracked. What do you think?

  8. Dandy January 8, 2011 Reply

    Hi Jonathan,
    It is so important to know our values and be driven by them. To not know what your values are then you’re wandering aimlessly and yes sometimes very “successful” people are aimless. Having values is like coming home to yourself!

    • Jonathan January 8, 2011 Reply

      Hi Dandy, knowing what we stand for certainly adds greater dimension to our lives. I think hit helps define a person in many different ways.

  9. Amit Sodha January 9, 2011 Reply

    I love that simple statement Jonathan, treat others as we wish to be treated. I find that I naturally gravitate to that which I value most.

    I’ve seen people say they want to be wealthy but they place little value on saving. That’s a great example of in-congruent values and so if we establish that which we truly value and then focus on that, we go with the current rather than against.

    • Jonathan January 9, 2011 Reply

      Hi Amit, I like that term “in-congruent values.” that is a great way to phrase it.

  10. Steve January 10, 2011 Reply

    Steven Covey speaks of timeless values and principles that are to human behavior as gravity is to falling to the ground. If we don’t follow those principles, we are in for a bumpy ride. Thanks for this article and for your book!

    • Jonathan January 10, 2011 Reply

      Hi Steve, I think in past generations there was more focus on values as kids were growing up and in society in general. These days, perhaps not so much. I like the comparison to gravity because it reminds us of what a powerful force values really are.

      So, you got my book! I will be most interested to here your feedback.

  11. Nea January 10, 2011 Reply

    I agree wholeheartedly. There are so many people living with internal conflicts that rob them of any chance for happiness. I’ve been there so I know how painful it is. I just want to reach out to others and remind them to get to know themselves (values, hopes, beliefs) so that they can live life accordingly.

    • Jonathan January 10, 2011 Reply

      Hi Nea, thanks for adding your voice of experience on this. As much as I stress this concept, I still feel that it’s a trap that many are dealing with and they don’t really understand the cause.

  12. Marnie January 11, 2011 Reply

    I’m always telling my eldest daughter to choose the highroad but it’s a hard concept for a 9-year-old to grasp. Great advise – Thanks!

    • Jonathan January 11, 2011 Reply

      Hi Marine, you might try giving her some examples that illustrate the difference between those who live their values and those who violate them. On of the most important concepts a person can grasp it that everything we do, say, and think has consequences. If we want the best possible consequences we need to choose the highroad.

  13. rob white January 14, 2011 Reply

    Very true and wise, Jonathan. I know when I was young I was driven to succeed to appease my ego. I valued being right and looking good over my authentic expression. One can achieve great results when the ego is in command, but alas it is a Pyrrhic victory. Listening to our heart-mind will always lead us to the land of milk and honey where real happiness resides.

    • Jonathan January 14, 2011 Reply

      Hey Rob, looks like you grew out of that phase and took some valuable lessons with you. I think that for many motivated people the ego is a driving force when we are young (notice I said we). Hopefully, it eventually leads us to understand what really matters in live and let go of that limiting mindset. Always a pleasure to hear from you Rob. Thanks!

  14. Aejaz Karim January 19, 2013 Reply

    It is awsome, I am just in love with this site. each and every topic posted here. everything is amazing. it halps me help youth in building thier basic life skill by getting an indepth understanding of it.

  15. Ben January 21, 2013 Reply

    I’ve really spent alot of time digging up my internal conflicts, letting them go and directing them the way I want to go.

    Those times I have violated my values and did something I really didn’t like i’ve always regretted it. A lot of those times was my emotions getting in the way.


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