Most of us would probably answer the question by listing traits.
You might describe yourself, for example, as friendly, creative, confident, independent, meticulous, or calm.
That’s an understandable response.
We tend to believe that our personalities or other external characteristics are what define us. And, sure, these traits can stem from who you are. But what truly shapes us, what forms the foundation of our character, are our values.
Values are our fundamental beliefs, informing our thoughts, words, and actions. If we don’t set our own core values, we end up losing ourselves in other people’s values. That’s how we become dependent on our friends, family members, or partners to define us. Our identities are no longer our own.
That’s why I recently wrote a list of my own core values, something I can return to whenever I’m feeling lost. Here are my values and how I define them.
Write your values; there could be 3 or 10 or more. Make a first attempt because you'll likely add other values as you think more deeply about your core ethics; what you value in life.
Be the same person regardless of who you’re with — parents, friends, co-workers, in-laws, strangers. Stay true to yourself at all times. The judgments of others is not important to my life.Truthfulness
Tell the truth, especially when it comes to your own life. Don’t have money? Don’t pretend that you’re wealthy. Never went to college? Own it. Be honest about who you are and what you’ve done.Joy/Happiness
Never do something you hate for longer than is necessary. Life’s too short for that. Do what brings you joy, including the small things: listening to music, spending time with other people, working out, walking, laying down, reading.Curiosity
Get to the bottom of everything that interests you, not because it’s required, but because it’s inspirational to know things. Acknowledge that life is fascinating, and continually work to understand it. But also know that some things can’t be understood, and that’s beautiful, too.Responsibility
Own your actions and mistakes. Understand what’s in your control. Don’t like something? Change it. But don’t take responsibility for things that are not in your lane. Focus on yourself and your values.Love
Build intimate and deep relationships with a few people. Depth matters more than breadth. Spend more time with your spouse than your co-workers. Get to know your siblings on a deeper level. Have two or three friends that you make a priority. Love your family.Fearlessness
Don’t fear the future. And don’t be afraid of what people you don’t care about think of you. The only opinions that matter are yours and those of your loved ones. Everything else is noise. Have dignity. Do the right thing, and don’t fear the rest.Take Ownership
Meaning take ownership for your actions and what you commit to do, for yourself and for others. Deliver on your promises. Don't be in the habit of offering to help and then failing to deliver.
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