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Build your core values, and the rest will follow: 4 simple steps to change

Taking action toward your dreams can often feel like getting your teenage son to clean his room.

Maybe you bribe him with use of the car or threaten him with being grounded, and he cleans it once or twice. But then, what happens? It stays clean for a few days and then gets strewn with pizza boxes and dirty underwear again, because your son is still a messy person.

The same is true for us in our lives. We decide that we want to find love, or lose weight, or get promoted, and so push ourselves to take action. We may sign up for online dating, limit our calories, or work a few extra hours. But after the initial surge of motivation, we fall back to old habits and return to the status quo.

This is because we have not changed who we are AT THE CORE. A boy who is messy at the core will have a messy room. Period. A would-be dater who is selfish and judgmental at the core will have shallow and weak relationships. No matter how much they try to be on their “best behavior,” eventually their real selves will call the shots and they will be back in the same pattern.

In order to attain your dreams in a real and lasting way, then, you need to develop who you are. And then what you do will follow suit naturally.

For example:

  • if you wanted to find love, you would be compassionate, caring, and merry.

  • If you wanted to lose weight, you would be determined, visionary, and honest.

  • If you wanted to be promoted, you would be loyal, generous, and thoughtful. T

This is how lasting change truly happens. From calling out your best qualities, deep inside yourself, so that the right actions happen naturally. It’s not about chasing the dream, it’s about becoming the person who would have that dream.

So how do you build those values? It’s actually more straightforward than you would think:

  1. Identify your values. Think about what you most want in your life. What qualities do you need to cultivate in yourself to have that life? These are the core values that you need to build. If you are new to this work, I recommend that you start with just one value until you master it.

  2. Remind yourself of your values each morning. If it’s written on a piece of paper somewhere, it does you no good. Read your list of values to yourself each morning, out loud. Reflect on what each one means. For example, one of mine is kindness. What does kindness mean to me? How can I be kind in my day today? This prepares your mind to actually be kind today.

  3. Catch yourself. Observe your behavior throughout the day. Does it align with your values? Does it go against them? This will likely be hard at first, but don’t worry. The more you practice observing your life from the vantage point of your values, the easier it will become. For example, a few weeks ago, I saw someone approaching the elevator and did not hold the door for them. Seconds after the doors closed, it struck me: that was decidedly NOT kind. But because I was aware of it, it made it easier for me to cultivate kindness the next time.

  4. Reflect on your day. At the end of each day, reflect on how well you did. I make a list of moments when I embodied my values, and moments when I did not. What tempted me to stray? How will I do it differently the next time? This part is crucial, because it is where you learn.

It sounds simple, but this is truly some of the most deep and powerful work you can do on yourself. Day by day, you will evolve to become a person with a solid core.

And then your dreams will follow.

Come join me in making April be “core values” month. What values do you need to cultivate in your life so you can have your dreams? Write a note and share so I can help you!


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