What does the word “values” mean to you? Though the term gets thrown around a lot, not many of us take the time to actually define what it means… and how our own individual values influence our thoughts, beliefs, and actions. 

In a nutshell, our values — sometimes called core values — are what matter most to us in life. Whether your core values encompass love, compassion, family, friendship, economic success, social justice, financial security, or something completely different doesn’t matter: everyone’s core values are different.

The key lies in identifying your unique values.

Why? Because once you know what’s truly important in life, you’ve got a guide that’ll never let you down… a guide that’ll allow you to live your life with integrity.

Every day (every hour, every minute) you make decisions. From the important to the mundane, these countless choices determine the trajectory of your life. When you make decisions that align with your values, you’ll feel content, free from internal conflict.

But the opposite is true, too. When your decisions and actions conflict with your core values, you’re left with feelings of discomfort, anxiety, fear, stress, and self-doubt.

Read on to learn more about the value inherent in defining your values. 

Find Purpose

What’s the purpose of life? Really, that question would be better phrased as “what’s your purpose in life?”

It’s a lot easier to find the answer to the “big question” when you know what you care about most. Think about it: you can’t really define what you want out of life until you know what matters. 

Once you’ve defined your own individual values, you can develop goals that are rooted in and aligned with those values. And when you connect your career, relationship, fitness, and other life goals to meaningful reasons, you’re more likely to achieve success.

Stay Focused on What’s Most Important

It’s hard to maintain focus on what really matters, when you’re not sure what really matters.

We’re bombarded with information all day, every day. Most of it is extraneous, just fluff and filler, making it easy to be distracted. Identifying your core values allows you to determine what’s really important: What you need and what you believe, rather than what you think you want.

Once you’ve eliminated the excess baggage, you can move ahead with a clear mind and conscience.

Make Positive Decisions

When it comes time to make a difficult decision — or simply to make the everyday decisions we all face — knowing your core values can help you make the choice that’s best for you.

Instead of letting emotions or erroneous information rule your decisions, bring your choices back to your values. When you connect your decisions to a specific value-based outcome, answers become clear. 

As a result, you can feel confident in your decision-making ability and stop second-guessing yourself. Move forward with confidence, knowing your choices are rooted in integrity.

Increased Health, Happiness and Satisfaction

When you use your values to guide actions and behaviors, something wonderful happens. Acting in alignment with what’s truly important to you eliminates much self-doubt and anxiety.

Living in a way that’s true to yourself actually reduces stress. Studies show that those who reflect on their personal values before anxiety-inducing events show lower levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol. Defining your values can literally improve your health, not to mention your happiness and confidence.