Previously, I shared how to define your personal core values and shared how I discovered my own. Since that time, many have asked, "OK, now what?" Knowing your true core values is only a step in the path to an authentic life. Learning to apply them daily is a major component to happiness and success.
The key to daily application of your core values is to establish behavior that keeps them front of mind. You want to identify the opportunities that will lead to your success and prevent decisions that will get you into trouble. Here are the methods I use to make sure that my core values take root and precedent.
1. Put them where you can see them.
My core values are all a single word so they are easy to apply in multiple places. But even if they are four to seven word phrases you can still put them on Post-it notes, your screen saver, home screen, and anywhere else that is in your line of sight. The important thing is to keep them top of mind when you don't have the time to dig into your brain.
2. Discuss them with close family and friends.
Your core values take on life when you have deep discussions about them. Share them with your significant other and your best friend. Get in the habit of using them to describe your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. My core value of Truth is an important topic when dealing with the critical people in my life. The more intimate the discussion, the more the values will comfortably settle into your soul.
3. Put the right people in your life (and eliminate the wrong ones).
The most impactful way to use core values is to manage the company you keep. Other people don't have to share your core values, but they do need to fit them. One of my core values is Creativity. I don't require all people in my life to be creative per se, but I do require them to be supportive of a creative approach. Otherwise, I know we will have useless conflict. Time is a limited commodity that other people consume. Use your core values to make sure your time is being spent with people worthy of your values.
4. Assess your daily tasks each morning.
Core values are great filters that help you make good decisions. When I list out my daily tasks, I use my values to evaluate whether or not they are the right things for me to be doing. For example, I determine each day if each task meets my core value of Impact. I want to know that everything I do will achieve maximum results for minimum effort. Make sure everything you do is consistent with who you are and you'll find your day running efficiently and effectively.
5. Integrate them into your regular conversations.
Core values take on a whole new life when they become an integrated part of your dialogue. Even casual conversation spurs opportunity to express yourself through value-speak. Since Consistency is one of my values, I often use that word to explain why I must stay true to my own writings even when it feels unnatural. Make your values a key part of your normal vocabulary and you won't have to remind yourself which one you are constantly forgetting.
6. Apply them as key motivators.
Your personal core values are the basis for determining your preferred future. Every opportunity and goal should be looked at through the lens of your core values or you will create unnecessary self-conflict and struggle on your journey. Take a day or two each quarter to do strategic planning and really think about how your life objectives and core values fit together. As long as they are in sync, your mind and soul can work together to accomplish great things.
7. Evaluate your day at bedtime.
The only way to truly improve is to see where you have strayed from the perfect path. Every day I take time to offer prayer and determine if my behavior was consistent with my core values. Here I apply my core value of Diligence and thoroughly examine my day for transgression. Because I'm human there is always something I could have done better, so I consider the better alternative and look to improve tomorrow. No need to beat yourself up. Embrace the benefits of living values and enjoy the personal growth.