LIFESTYLE: Personal Core Values

Your values represent your highest priorities and are guides for how you behave. They may range from a belief in hard work to concern for others and social justice. They represent your highest priorities.

What are your personal core values?

In the book entitled Stress Less, Live More(2010), Dr. Richard Blonna defines a value as a “combination of a concept, a belief system, and a pattern of behaviour that you hold in the highest regard possible.” (p.25). In his view, we need to think about our values as “as the rudder that steers the ship called your life as it sails toward the goals you’ve set for it.” (p.26)

Dr. Blonna identifies a categorization of 10 key values which may embody what is most important to you:

  1. Intimate relationships– those involving a deeper level of sharing personal information and experience than friendships or other casual relationships
  2. Family relationships– nuclear (parents and siblings) and/or extended (add in aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, …)
  3. Friendships and other relationships– close friends to casual associates
  4. Health – is a process, from a wellness perspective, of moving toward optimal functioning, across the physical, social, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, environmental and occupational dimensions of our life
  5. Spirituality– feeling connected to something or someone beyond ourself, expressed through participation in organized religious activities or from a secular perspective, being part of a community working to save the environment, helping the homeless people, committing to world peace, …
  6. Finances– the amount of money you want or need to earn, your saving and spending habits and budgetary concerns
  7. Learning– acquiring new knowledge, information and skills, degrees, certification, qualifications, license
  8. Work– offers opportunities for personal growth and opportunities for earning income, socialization, and making a contribution to society; includes physical work environment, social relationships and job tasks
  9. Environment – physical context for our activities, ranging from our immediate surroundings (e.g., school, neighbourhood, home, city, recreation opportunities) to  the province or state, country and world-at-large
  10. Civics – the rights and responsibilities of being a responsible member of the community

Dr. Blonna proposes a four-part process to clarify your values:

  1. Identify what is most important to you in life.  This is your list of core values.
  2. Rank these values in terms of most important to least important. Most important core values could include your spouse, children and job. Less important values may include political beliefs, economic issues and recreational pursuits. However, for some people these latter values will be most important. 
  3. Publically affirm your values. Let other people know what you value in both written and spoken words.
  4. Act on your values test their validity. Talk alone is not sufficient. Actions have to follow.

Sometimes it is difficult to affirm and act on a value because of stressful thoughts, personal scripts, scary images in your mind and emotions. Sometimes, you need the courage to accept these elements while you take action. To help you, set one clear attainable goal with measurable objectives (“Who will do how much of what by when?”) to affirm and act on this value. 

Through this process of realistic goal setting which reflect our values, we reduce our stress.


Blonna, Richards. (2010). Stress Less, Live More: How Acceptance and Commitment TherapyCan Help You Live a Busy Yet Balanced Life. Oakland, CA.: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

Prepared by Wally Lazaruk