Unlocking Your Core Values: A Guide to Living Your REAL Life


What your REAL core values are and how to live them.

Let’s talk about values:

I’m a coach. Coaches love talking about values, and that’s because values are so important – if you know what your values are, you can translate them into action or – if you want to go even deeper – a sense of purpose. When you do this, your life is going to be in alignment with who you really are.

So in this article, I’m going to show you a process that you can go through so that you can figure out what your values actually are because a lot of people are actually just running around on autopilot, living out values that aren’t even theirs. They’re just values that they picked up from society or from their parents or from the government, or from aliens in outer, space or whoever the hell it is.

And so you might need to do a little bit of inner work – which sounds painful, but it isn’t – a little bit of work, let’s say, to figure out what you actually think and feel and value so that you can start to design things in a way that is going to make your life more real, you more aligned in general, and is going to allow you to go deeper into experiencing the amazing feeling of being real because you’ll have tapped into your realness and you’ll be doing something with it -instead of just running around on autopilot.

So if that sounds good, keep reading because you’re probably going to learn some stuff about yourself. And all human beings like to learn things about themselves – after all, that’s one of our defining characteristics as a species.

What are core values and how do you define them.

Here we go. So let’s begin with a definition of what core values even are like. It’s one of these words that we’ve all heard, “values, values, values”. It’s all over the place. But what the hell are values anyway?

The simplest definition that I can come up with is that ‘values’ are just things that matter to you. But when we say “things” here, we actually mean abstract, intangible qualities. We’re not talking about things like material things in the world, although you can value those things, but that doesn’t mean that they’re your values.

Actually, your values are the intangible qualities behind the things. So let’s say, for example, you’re dreaming of getting a Lamborghini. I always use that example. Maybe subconsciously I want to get a Lamborghini. I don’t have one because I’m not rich. But anyway, let’s say you want to get a Lamborghini. That is not one of your values. You can find Lamborghinis valuable, but your values are actually the thing behind your desire to get the Lamborghini.

And if you dig into it, ask yourself why, it’ll boil down to certain things like ‘freedom’ (an intangible quality). You’ve got a picture in your head of you buzzing around in this Lamborghini, driving like a maniac and listening to Limp Bizkit (that’s what I’d be doing) -and that feeling of freedom that you envisaged is actually the value that is pulling you in that direction.

Maybe as you’re driving around in this Lamborghini, people are going to be looking at you and they’re going to think you’re like an amazing, sexy, successful person. And there’s a value there probably around ‘status’ or feeling ‘significant’ or something like that – and you could go on all day looking at the goal behind the goals which is always a value and that is going to show you who you really are ultimately and what you’re actually  looking for in life.

Now, the important thing here is that when you understand it’s not just about the surface level details of the things, but the abstract, intangible qualities that matter to you beneath the things that you think you are chasing, then you also have the added benefit of being able to detach from the external goal and to start building things on that real foundation of the inner qualities that you’re actually seeking.

If  you realize that, “Okay, by chasing this Lamborghini and listening to Limp Bizkit and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, I’m actually chasing freedom”, well, you can still decide to keep chasing the Lamborghini if you want, or you can step back and you say, “Okay, right now I don’t have enough money in my bank account to go out and buy a Lamborghini and listen to Limp Bizkit – but there are many other ways that I can bring freedom, my core value of freedom, into my life.”

And, then you can make a list. You say, “Right, okay, I’m going to go fishing on the canal right now, or I’m going to go for a hike, or I’m going to quit my job just because, why not?”

Etc. You could go on forever. But the point is, if you understand the goal behind the goals – which is always a value based thing – then the goal is still important. But you can be outcome-independent in your approach towards it. And you can also realize that there are many, many other ways for you to get the things that are truly important in your life into your life.

And that is why it’s so important to understand what values are and how you can go about bringing them into your day to day existence. So, the definition, just to keep this clear, is that your core values are intangible qualities or abstract qualities that matter to you and that are driving the goals that you are out there chasing.

Let’s keep going.

Your core values shape and colour your whole life.

This is getting interesting. So what we’ve learned so far is that our core values are very important. That’s kind of stating the obvious, because, as I said, we all know values are important. But they’re more important than we may think, actually, because they’re constantly driving the decisions that we make about our lives and what we want, the choices that we make about who we, are, how we show up, the relationships we get in, the goals that we chase, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Values basically shape and colour your whole life. And so if you’re not consciously aware of the values that you  hold and the reasons behind the things that you’re chasing and trying to bring into your life, then you  risk making a life for yourself that is not a true representation of your REALNESS are and what’s actually possible you in your true potential.

Now, this comes down to something that I’ve said many times. This whole site, if you don’t know, is about growing REAL.

If you put something real into your life, i.e. In this case, real values, then you’re going to get something real out. If you put something unreal into your life, then you’re going to get something unreal out.

And, we all want the real stuff, whether we know it or not. Because if we feel restless, frustrated, depressed, like there’s more to life, that we have a void, that we feel empty, or we need to rebel against the world or whatever it is, it means that we have been putting unreal values into our lives and so the current state of our lives is quite unreal.

And so if you want to make life feel deeper, if you want to make it feel like you’re more connected to it, then you need to make sure that the values that are driving your life are actually yours. And that’s why this is really important.

Some examples of core values.

So now I’m going to give you an overview about how you can figure out what your values are. You might need to reading and do some writing, or you could just read the whole thing and then you’ll figure it out.

Either way, the point is that if you actually sit down and do this – especially if you’ve never done anything like this before – then you’re going to be able to figure out what your values are, and then you can go start bringing the real stuff into your life by putting something real into it, instead of just running around on autopilot, filtering everything through the ego, and then getting something unreal.

So let’s start, with some examples from somebody really interesting. In this case…me!

My values, I have decided and determined after doing some of this work are health. And so I try to exercise every day, do yoga, go hiking on weekends. That’s one of my values. So I feel good when I do those things. Creativity is another – which is why in my coaching business, I work with a lot of creative people. And, my podcast, Creative Status, is about the creative process, because I just love creativity, so I need it in my life. And so that’s why I’ve made some choices about what to do with my business and what my podcast should focus on. I find those things very satisfying now because my values are embodied.

Freedom is another core value. If I don’t have freedom, I go mad and I get depressed – like all human beings, tbh – and that is why I have my own business. I don’t have some boss breathing down my neck, getting me to do spreadsheets and all that kind of bullshit that they make you do. That is the worst thing in the world for me. And so by, realising that that is my value and making choices around that value, I now feel good. It’s actually amazing.

Figuring out your values is quite simple. You say to yourself, “Okay, I value this”, and then you start acting on it. Life improves. You can trust me, because I’ve experienced this myself and seen my clients experience it too.

A final value is humour. I try to value humour because I like to think I’m an amusing person. But, I don’t know, there is a chance that I just think I’ve been funny when actually I’ve been annoying.

Who knows? But it’s one of my values, and it’s why I don’t take myself too seriously with these my writing or in anything else that I do, because I think, ultimately, life is just one big joke without a punchline. And so if you take it too seriously, you’re always going to lapse into being unreal. And ultimately, that is why I say these stupid things and I like to joke around with people in real life and, have relationships where people can have banter and so on and so forth. It’s very important to me.

Maybe you’re a humourless individual, that’s fine. Like, we don’t all have to share the same values. That’s one of the good things about values. They belong to us and we can define them as we choose to define them.

When defining your core values, you need to define them on your own terms.

When you’re defining your values, so in my case, the ones I’ve just said shared health,- freedom, creativity, and  humour –  what those words mean to me, because these are my values, is important.

If you say, “Well, actually, ‘health’ doesn’t mean doing yoga every day and going hiking, because if you do yoga every day, you’re putting your body through too much of [whatever bullshit thing someone might say]”, that’s fine.

But for me, doing yoga every day and going hiking embodies my value of health. That’s what health means to me: looking after myself to the greatest extent possible, my mind and my body, which is what yoga does. And then that’s fine.

Creativity means (to me, again) working on creative projects, duh. It means being present enough to make my unconscious conscious and blah, blah, blah. I won’t talk about that too much. But the point is, once you’ve understood the word, or once you’ve uncovered the word that encapsulates your value, well, the only definition that it really needs to meet is yours, because we’re talking about your values.

There’ll probably be overlap between my definition and your definition but the little nuances are, the things that are going to make it truly yours.

So just remember once you’ve figured out your own values, you need to define them on your own terms so you can truly make them yours. Let’s figure out how you can do that.

Any transformational journey involves three stages: Awareness, Acceptance, and (inspired) Action

If you find yourself on any kind of transformational journey in life, you’re ultimately going to end up walking through three stages, Awareness, Acceptance, and Action. This is something I talk about all the time because I use that in my coaching practice.

Ultimately, Awareness, Acceptance, and Action are going to take you from where you are now to where you want to be. And it’s no different when it comes to your values and figuring out what they are and then translating them into action or a sense of purpose or whatever you want to do with them.

Now, Awareness is always the first starting point of these transformational journeys because it ultimately just means asking yourself different questions to the ones you normally do.

If you ask yourself different questions to what you usually do, then you’re going to get insight and you’re going to uncover some new truth or some reality that you may have been avoiding because of ego resistance or distortion or simple ignorance – or whatever it is – and you’re going to have a stronger foundation on which to build your life.

And when it comes to values, it’s exactly the same thing. If you want to take yourself through, a values elicitation exercise, which is what coaches like to call these things, then it starts with simple questions.

Although there are actually thousands of values elicitation exercises, I like to use two really simple questions which are kind of related. But if you ask them and answer them honestly and then reverse engineer the answers to figure out what values are embodied in said answers, you can actually learn a lot.

So the two questions are basically the same question in two different ways:

  1. When have you felt most alive or best in life?
  2. When have you felt least alive or worst in life?

Now, answering both is recommended, but just for the sake of brevity, I’ll start with the first question.

You can start to figure out what your core values are by asking the right questions.

When have you felt best or most alive?

In my case, a simple answer to that question goes like this (“Simple”. Simple is, okay):

I’ve felt best and most alive when I’m out in nature hiking. I didn’t mention it earlier, but nature is also one of my core values. But anyway, when I am out in nature hiking, I feel totally present, totally alive, totally connected to all of life around me. And I feel free. I feel totally free. And I’m also doing things which I feel like are, making me healthier. And so just in that simple example of hiking in nature, two of my values become really clear – if I look at the experience, not the concept of it, of hiking, the experience.

What do I feel in that moment? I feel free. I feel healthy and I feel alive. And so if I can take that as being a benchmark for how I want to feel all the time, I can say, “Okay, I value health, I value freedom. How else do I bring these Values into my life when I’m not out there hiking – just going about my day to day business or designing my lifestyle?

“Well, okay, I’m going to make sure I have freedom in my business, freedom in relationships. Freedom, freedom, freedom, freedom. How do I bring that into my life?”

And so, if you can answer those simple questions, one, the other, or both, then you can do the same thing: you can start to figure out what your core values are. Now, if you need some inspiration, because obviously we’re dealing with abstract concepts here. Abstract qualities

There’s a big list of values here. Or, if you want to take it up a notch, I have a free course, a seven day course called the Seven Day Personality Transplant System, Shock For Realness And Life Purpose. Long ass title.

The first module of the course is about death and how you can use your time to make sure that you make real choices around your values. And the first exercise for day one of the course is about going through this big list of values and then prioritising what yours are so you can boil it down to your core five values. So you can do that or you can answer those questions.

The 7-Day Personality Transplant System Shock for Realness & Life Purpose is a complete course with 158-page workbook for deep diving into your ‘stuff’ and growing REAL.

Either way, you don’t have to do loads of work. You just have to raise awareness, ask yourself the right questions and then say, “Okay, these are my values. Now what am I going to do with them?”

Let’s talk about that now.

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This article is based on a transcript from this video.

What to do with your core values once you’ve figured them out.

 Once you’ve raised awareness of your core values, you need to actually accept the value and then take action on it. Awareness, Acceptance, and Action – it’s always about these three things.

Accepting your values means basically that you’re going to commit to them. If you don’t commit to them, then you’re just going to kind of let the world push you around and you’re going to compromise on the quality of your lifestyle and all that kind of stuff. And you’re not going to get the values that you need to be brought into your life on a consistent basis. So you need to accept them, which is about committing to them – basically saying, “Oh, okay, this truly is my value and so I’m going to do something with it”.

Then you need to take action. Taking action means that you change your values or translate your values into goals. So let’s keep it simple. If you value ‘freedom’ and your life right now doesn’t really have that much freedom because you’ve got a job that you don’t like and, your relationship, for whatever reason, is kind of toxic or whatever it is (because in this imaginary example, you’ve got unhealthy boundaries, blah, blah, blah). You basically feel that there’s no freedom in your life.

Or let’s take another example, ‘creativity’. You realise that you value creativity because the time you felt most alive was when you were painting a picture or something. And so you’re like, “Okay, I need to bring more creativity into my life. But right now, there’s lack of it.”

Once you’ve committed to that value, because you acknowledge that it is a real part of who you are, you need to act on it and turn it into a goal. So all that means is you come up with something specific that you want to do with it.

Remember the Lamborghini example right at the start where we said it’s the goal behind the goal that makes the real difference.

Maybe you think, “Okay, I want to bring more freedom into my life. My job sucks, so I’m going to quit my job right now.”

It might not be time to quit your job, although you can still put yourself on the path to eventually quitting if you’re truly committed to that value instead. Maybe a better thing to do right now is to find something like hiking or yoga or whatever it is. I’m just using my own examples because I’m so self-cantered but, basically, you need to find something that is going to bring more freedom into your life until you’re ready to quit your job and bring creativity and freedom into your life to a greater degree.

Maybe it just means you set yourself a goal: Painting a picture at least once a week. Keep it simple. None of this needs to be complicated but the point is, the more that you accept those values and commit to them, the more likely you are to act on them once you figure out what the goal looks like. And, day by day, your life is going to become much more real.

Because, as I said earlier:

 Real in, real out; unreal in, unreal out.

And so if you start acting on the real stuff, with real goals based around your values, then your life is going to become much better.

You can do values elicitation work in a real way or an unreal way.

So the final thing I want to say is that – as with anything else in life – you can do this values elicitation work in a real way or an unreal way.

Real means, ultimately, that it’s putting you on the path towards wholeness. Wholeness, for simplicity, means a connection to yourself,  a connection to other people, and a connection to life itself. And you can only have that connection if you’re willing to face the truth.

The opposite of that is, fragmentation. Fragmentation means that you are divided within yourself and you’re identifying with a false version, aka the ego, because of underlying emotional stuff, shame, guilt and trauma, and because of social conditioning from the world telling you that you don’t deserve to live your real values, or that you’re not good enough to live your real values or any other bullshit like that.

Now, when it comes to values, we can fall into the trap that I kind of talked about at the start of the video, where we value surface level things that we think are going to fill the void within us rather than finding the things within us that have been denied and putting them out into the world.

That’s a really subtle distinction, but it makes a big, big difference in your life. And the way that I normally describe it to my clients is that you’re either running towards something real or away from something unreal.

You want to be running towards something REAL – which means you figured out the true values within you that are aligned with wholeness and the journey towards growth and expansion that we’re all on  (because everything in real life is changing and evolving).  If we’re not on track with that, if we’re not moving with it, then we’re always resisting and distorting our relationship with life behind ego (running away from the unreal because the ego is always an attempt to hide from unreal emotions).

If you can figure out the values that are aligned with that journey towards wholeness – that natural drive that we all have – then you’re going to put yourself in a better position to grow REAL.

These kind of values are things like truth, because without the truth, you’re not going to be able to really dive inside yourself and find anything truly of value. Creativity, because we’re all creative when we’re real, and creativity allows us to stay curious and work with uncertainty and keep moving, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, etc.

What I’m saying is there are some values that support your growth, other values that you only really value because you’re disconnected within yourself, because of underlying emotional stuff – usually shame, guilt and/or trauma. The second type (unreal) is going to show up as, things that actually seem attractive to the ego side of you, but they’re going to stop you from growing.

And that’s things like valuing money for the sake of money, not the goal behind the goal that I was talking about earlier with the Lamborghini example, where money is going to give you freedom, it’s going to allow you to give more, it’s going to allow you to do, the things you’ve always wanted to do and get experiences.

If you just value money for the sake of it, probably there’ll be some egotistical thing going on inside you where you think, “Okay, if I have money, then I’m going to fill the void inside myself”, which won’t happen (well… maybe in the short term, but it will be short-lived)

Or maybe you think,  I’m going to feel superior to other people, which is going to help me deal with this feeling of shame, blah, blah, blah.” The point is, there are real values that are going to make you real. There are unreal values that are going to make you feel okay in the short term, but they’re not really going to change anything. And so that is why you need to go through this process. I’m talking about of Awareness, Acceptance, and Action.

Remember that if you become aware and accept and act on something real, you get real out. And if you put something unreal in because you’re not being real with yourself, you’re just going to get unreal back.

That’s how life works. And so if you can figure out your real values, act on them, life gets a lot better. You’ll feel good, and you’ll ultimately end up where you need to be, whether you get the surface level goals that you think you need or not, because you know that the goal behind the goal is always a real value.

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