Core Values and living with intention part 1

Values and intention setting PART 1

This year I am trying to get to grips with living in accordance with my values and living with intention. To do this I must understand what values and intentions are. Then I must discover what my personal core values are and how I can implement habits and processes into each day to help me live to my values and live with intention.


This is part 1 in a series of posts that are going to be based around this process, please feel free to join in at home if you are interested in finding out more about living in accordance with your values, and living a more intentional life.

Today we are going to look at:


So first things first, what are values?


The Minimalists talk about “higher order values” these are things that almost everybody values or should value in some way to have a meaningful existence :health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution. You can read more about these higher order values in the Minimalists book called  “Minimalism, live a meaningful life”.

When I talk of values, I mean CORE values, these are the values that should drive me and the choices that I make everyday, no matter how big or small that are not included in these higher order values.

The dictionary definition of core values is:

principles or standards of behaviour; one’s judgement of what is important in life.”

Essentially, my values are the important things TO ME as an individual. The things I cannot and will not compromise on, the things that make me what I am. The idea is, that if I live a life that is in accordance with my values, then I will have a life well lived.

There are many ways that one can try and determine what their core values are. Here are the questions and methods I am using to help me reach an understanding of what my core values are.

Firstly, what am I passionate about? What are the things that I can’t live without, what do I love to do, what brings me alive, what could I talk about for hours on end?

This is a tricky question, especially if you are unsure of what it is you are passionate about. As we get older and life changes we tend to forsake the things we enjoy for work, chores, caring for others and the culture of busy, or for things that pacify us such as mindlessly watching T.V , browsing the internet or scrolling social media.

I found that when I became a mother I lost my identity a little, as all my time and focus was spent on looking after and caring for a tiny human. I was unable to do the things I previously loved because I didn’t have time or was too tired and emotional. This is perfectly natural and OK but eventually your children become less dependent on you. As your children are developing into their own individual, independent selves I believe it is important for parents to begin that process as well.

Joe asleep on me

Obviously some things that we were passionate about as a child, or even last week, we may not be passionate about today, but it is the underlying value that often remains the same. For example I was passionate about reading “point horror” novels as a child, now, I’m not so keen! But I still love the process of reading and learning.


Often the things we enjoyed or were passionate about as a child are still relevant to us today. Here are some examples from my life:

As a child I loved drawing, art and being creative. One of my favourite things was getting a “get set” art play set at Christmas which would give me something to make and do. I spent a lot of time drawing and colouring in and making stuff. As a teenager I was very passionate about art, painting and expressing myself creatively. I also loved to write and make up stories as a child, I did a lot of imaginative play with my toys, going on mad adventures inside my head, all whilst playing alone in my bedroom. I liked to help as a child too. I liked to help the grown ups with house work or baking or cooking, partially because I was eager to please, partially because I enjoyed messing with grown up things!

For example I loved to dust at my nanny Iris’s house. She had shelves and shelves of little knick knacks, glass ornaments, cups and saucers, tubs and pots with treasures inside. I loved to take all the stuff off a shelf, polish it, then put it all back in a different order- displaying the items I loved the most.

I also loved baking with my mom. Not only did I get to spend quality time with my mom when we baked, I developed a love of making something amazing from a few meagre ingredients- I loved the process of creating something that could bring such joy and happiness.

Joe baking with me

Today I am still the same, (although I hate washing up and hated it as a child too!) I enjoy many parts of home making such as baking (alone and with my Joe!) cooking, organizing and display. I am often rearranging furniture or displaying and editing my space in different ways. Being creative, expressing myself through art and writing is something that I still value today. Therefore I could garner that one of my values would be: Creativity

Bee strong- painting I did last year


I’ve always loved reading and learning. As a child and a teen I would spend hours with my head in a book and I also enjoyed doing homework and studying, especially getting stuck in to writing a lengthy in depth essay or working on a big art project. I’ve always been interested in learning about the lives of others, and how I can use this information to understand myself and others better. I am still interested in these processes today- reading, learning, discovering new things and becoming the best version of myself I can be. Therefore I can garner that one of my core values Is: Learning


Why don’t you try it at home- what things did you love as a child? Do you still have the same values today? Often you can be surprised that the essence of who you are has been the same since you were a child.

Another method I am trying to help me define my core values is to use a list of core value terms.

Examples of terms that express core values are;










Hard work



A great resource is this core values list it is a resource for companies to discover their core values, but is great for individuals too, there is a list of 500 core value words to choose from. Otherwise here’s one to get you started!


So the idea is to get your list of value terms, highlight the words that resonate with you or have deep meaning to you. These words are your values. You may then find that you have a very large list of values. The idea is to gently reduce the list until you are left with around 5-7 core values.

To do this, say if you have a list of 40 values, put them in order of importance to you then pick the top 20, then repeat the process until you have your top 5- these are the five values that are of the most importance to you.

Another technique you could use is thinking of a moment or time in your life when you felt really happy and aligned. What were you doing? Who were you with? How did you feel? The Huffington Post article by Anne Loehr gives an example as follows:

Can you recall a moment where your life couldn’t get any better? When everything felt aligned? It may have even felt like the best day of your life. Take some time to remember this peak moment and follow these steps:


1. Describe this peak moment in detail. If you are working on this exercise alone, write the description. If you are doing this exercise with someone, talk about this moment for 2-3 minutes while the other person takes notes.

Here is an excerpt from my own peak moment:

One of my peak moments was taking leaders on Safaris for the Soul, African safaris that I co-created with Brian Emerson. I loved watching the leaders grow and develop during the two-week program. I remember clearly the blue sky and green savannah, hearing the wildlife sounds, and smelling fresh nature.


2. Think about and discuss what values are recognisable in this particular peak moment.

From the peak moment described above, you could say I value:

  • Being outdoors
  • Working with people to develop their potential
  • Being adventurous

3. Pick the value or values that you’ve identified as most important to you. (Remember that your values apply to both your personal and professional worlds.)

From the three potential values I identified above, I pick ‘adventurous’ as the one that is most important to me in both my career and personal life.


4. Define what the chosen value or values mean to YOU.

To me, ‘adventurous’ means choosing an unconventional path, trying lots of new things, going to new places (literally and figuratively), exploring options and tinkering with ideas to find solutions.


5. Choose a value name that resonates with YOU.

Most people would name the value I identified simply as “adventurous”. However, the word adventurous doesn’t resonate with me. Instead the name “wind in your face” is much more memorable for me as a core value.


6. Continue the process until you define approximately 5 core values


Using the techniques described above I  have managed to get a list of my 5 core values:





Well being



Of course, these terms can mean different things to different people. Someone else may have the same list of core values to me but their definition and meaning may be totally different from what I understand the words to mean. That is perfectly fine, your core values are for you to define and are personal to you as an individual.


Now we have discovered what our core values are we can use this information to help us live a more meaningful life. I hope this has been useful to you if you are interested in exploring your values. In part 2 we will look at intentions!

See you next time!


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