What Are My Core Values?

Yesterday I had a job interview and I was probably more nervous and awkward than I’ve ever been in front of a potential employer, (which is saying something). It’s a great job, and I was a total mess. It was already a recipe for disaster, and then he asked me a question I was really not prepared for. “What are your values?”

I had no idea.

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Maybe if I were a bit more relaxed and hadn’t just completely forgotten how to function in social situations, I would have been able to think of an answer. Maybe I should have sat down before and actually thought about this. But I never have, and on the spot, I was completely stumped. 

After I thoroughly embarrassed myself a very non-answer, (blurting out “animals” and going on about how I’m against animal testing or maybe about fostering animals or maybe being against puppy farming, I might have actually blacked out because I don’t remember any words that left my mouth) he told me some of the companies core values. Oh, I thought. That’s what you meant.

And then he said something that caused me to spiral into the crisis that has haunted me since. He said that to know your core values, and to be able to articulate them, means you know yourself. To know yourself, to know what’s in your heart, that makes you a more confident person.

He was right.

We all have those values. This isn’t about getting values, it’s about finding the one’s that are already a part of you, a fundamental part of your identity. Sure, it would help him as an employer, to know what I value and if I’m the right person for that role. But it would also help me. It helps with your personal goals, career goals, decision-making, relationships, every aspect of your life. To know what you value is different to knowing what you like and dislike (although knowing that can help). It means you know what you need to have a fulfilled, happy life by your own standards.

So after about 24 hours, a few personality tests, having a fully developed identity crises, some real introspective thinking, and a lot few panic attacks, I finally settled on some core values. Here’s how I came to my final list.

First, I had to admit that I didn’t really understand what core values are. I did some research and found some information from life-coach type blogs. Here’s an example, but there’s plenty out there if you google it. Now that I had a grip on what this concept actually meant, I had the mission of finding the ones that really stood out to me.

I had a quick look at a few of these lists and took note of some key words that stood out to me.

Then I took a look at the ways that I usually define myself. I am a big fan of the Myers-Briggs Type Interactor (here’s some information and here’s the test to find out your own). Another personality definition I love is the Hogwarts Houses, because come on, I grew up in the Harry Potter Era. So I took a look at the “Strengths and Weaknesses” page of the INTP personality type, as well as the traits of the houses I identify with the most (Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, if you’re wondering), and noted that heaps of them came up multiple times.

The last tip, to know what you value in life, have a look at what you absolutely hate. I made a mental list of about five people I’ve had trouble with or just don’t like. Why do I hate the people that I do? There’s an overlapping series of traits among these people, they are all liars, fake, manipulative, selfish, two-faced, and a fair few are cheaters and they use and mistreat their friends. If these are things I absolutely despise in other people, what does that say about me? That I need the complete opposite in my life.

Here’s the full list of core values that I came up with, with little descriptions of what they mean to me. The bolded ones are the ones I feel are the most important, and the italic ones are a bit of an elaboration on the bolded ones above.

Creativity

I value artistic things and people – all forms of art and creation – writing, craft, art, music, performance, creative thinking, ideas and aesthetics.

Curiosity

A precursor to creativity is curiosity. I value the process of finding answers, looking at the world and asking questions. The adventure and exploration of finding out. I value not being cocky or thinking you know everything, but instead being curious about the world.

Originality

I value being unique and original in expression and mentality. Having an original outlook on life, something new to contribute or create, original thoughts and problem-solving, original self-identity and expression.

Abstract Thinking

As a writer, I have entire worlds and endless possibilities in my mind. I value creative minds, abstract and out of the box thinking and problem-solving.

Growth

Goes with all of the above, I value learning and growing as a person.

Compassion

I value and want to be around kindness, selflessness, and caring people. I care about people, equality, animals, and the environment, and value the compassion, courage and passion of those who care about these things too and fight for what they care about.

Equality

I value equal rights and opportunities for every person, a world without prejudice or discrimination.

Loyalty

I am incredibly loyal and value loyalty in others. I have a fierce love for the important people in my life, I am protective and will fight for them at any moment. When a person breaks that loyalty and trust I become the complete opposite, cutting them from my life completely.

Honesty

I don’t have any time or patience for lies, be they big or small. I value telling the truth and being true to yourself. When looking at what I value, I took a look at a few people I hate and liars was a huge trend there. I’ve had experience with people who lie about anything, from simple lies to telling made up stories to make themselves sound cooler, and I’ve always found them fake and hated being around them.

Another note on honesty, I also value forthright, “take no bullshit” type people. People who are direct, outspoken, and straightforward. I value fighting for what you believe in, standing up for yourself and others, calling people out on their lies, cruelty or manipulation. When I meet people like that I really look up to them.

Wit and humour

Taking a look at the qualities I love about people, wit and humour are a must. I love funny people, and I love smart funny people. That’s why I love put up with people who make puns and rely on wordplay. It’s infuriatingly hilarious.

Fun

As a sub note on wit and humour, I value fun as well. I love hanging out with my friends and Ella because we have fun, I love seeing my younger brothers because they’re fun. I love singing and dancing and painting because it’s fun. Life would be super boring without having fun.

Adventure, exploration, experiences

This is a nice thing to end on. I believe that life is all about the experiences. I value exploring the world through travel, learning, personal growth, and helping others. Always asking questions, always doing something new, and just like the world, always changing.

I’d love to hear what you think about the idea of having core values, if you’ve been through the process of discovering yours, how you did it and how it’s affected your life.

– Jess

P.S. The photo I used is a really nice free stock photo from StockSnap. It was really hard to find a visual representation of a concept like core values, so hey, paint is pretty.

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