How to Discover your Core Values


In the last post, you were introduced to the Hidden Part of an Authentic Life, your core values. Your core values are the principles that are most important to you. They are the fuel that ignites you, fires you up, and propels you forward.





1. Your core values provide motivation. According to the Institute for Life Coaching Training, when we align our goals to our values, we move ten times faster toward the change we are seeking. Now that’s exciting!


2. When you label your core values it provides you with authority over your desires. This way you are in control of your values and not the other way around.


3.  Knowing your core values allows for greater authenticity. When you identify what’s important to you, you’re able to make decisions that align with your authentic self instead of the opinions of others.




In helping clients to articulate their values , I used to start with a rather large list of values (300+) and have them choose the values that resonated with them. The only problem was that everything resonated because there are a lot of good values. Clients would have a hard time narrowing down their choices and especially when they felt that they should have a value. (The “shoulds” in your life are actually someone else’s values. That’s why you never actually do them.)

What I started doing instead was asking questions. Coaches love to ask questions. I now use a Core Values Questionnaire to uncover a client’s deepest desires. I am going to share six of those questions here. 

As you answer the following questions, remember that values are intangibles. For example, hiking is not a value, but what it offers you (ie. ADVENTURE, PEACE, or NATURE) is the value.

Think beyond FAITH and FAMILY as potential values. Most Christian women I work with value these things highly but these words tend to be too general to inspire the motivation, authority and authenticity they are looking for. Think about aspects of your faith or your family that have great meaning to you, such as GENEROSITY, TRUST, COURAGE, or LOYALTY.




Answer these question with several examples from the past, the present, and all areas of life (work, home, church, leisure). With each example, ask yourself, What value does that honor? Why is that important to me?


  1. What things, if they were taken away or you couldn’t do them, would make life unbearable? What makes these things valuable to you?
  1. What did you go out of your way to do this week? What was the underlying reason? 
  1. Identify times at work and home when you were the angriest. What was happening then? What made you so angry? (For example, if disrespect drives you bonkers, your value could be RESPECT. If injustice gets under your skin, JUSTICE could be your value.)
  1. Who do you admire? What about them do you admire?
  1. What are your soap box issues? Why?
  1. What would you regret NOT doing? Why?



Look for themes.

What value did you identify in more than 2 or 3 questions? Those are usually at the top of your list. 

Secret tip:  In my coaching practice, I have found that 75% of a person’s core values lines up with the strengths of their personality type. If you don’t know your personality type yet, it’s a great place to start.

Identify 10 values from your answers and rank them in order of importance to you. Look at the list and ask yourself how aligned your life is with each one. I have clients use a Likert scale and score each value on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being low and 10 being high. If they score below a 7 on any particular value, we brainstorm different ways to honor that value more. 

Post your Core Values list somewhere you’ll see it each day (your bathroom mirror, your car dash, your desk, a kitchen cabinet) so you can set your intentions first thing. In this way you’re much more likely to think, speak and act according to your values.  

If you would like more help with this process, consider setting up a coaching call for assistance.