Do your habits, thoughts, and overall direction in life line up with your personal core values and beliefs?
Most people would say “Yes!” in a knee-jerk reaction. But do they really? When was the last time that you stopped to check?
When we make habits, goals, and big life decisions we usually have a particular destination in mind and plan accordingly.
But life is hectic and things change fast. We often have to make adjustments, concessions, and sacrifices as we go. And when we do, we could be slowly shifting away from our core values and beliefs little by little without even realizing it.
The lack of consistency between our actions and our beliefs can lead to unhappiness, self-loathing, and a lack of self-respect.
“There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do.”-Freya Stark
To prevent this inconsistency, it is important to slow down every now and again and evaluate your direction in life. Today I will give you a tool, called the “Integrity Report”, that will allow you to evaluate whether or not you are living up to your own expectations, beliefs, and core values.
I even made a free worksheet just for you, grab it now so you can follow along!
Okay, got it? Let’s get started!
Core Values & Integrity
First, let’s start with a bit of terminology.
“Core values” are the qualities or characteristics that are most important to you and who you want to be as a person. Our personal core values make up our identity (who we are as a person).
Core values could be things like: bravery, honesty, kindness, patience, resilience etc. Each person will have their own unique set of core values depending on what’s important to them.
For example, several hundred years ago, a young man named Benjamin Franklin had a very lofty (and dare I say, dreadfully boring) personal growth goal. He wanted to achieve “moral perfection”.
Young Ben Franklin came up with a list of 13 core values (although back then he called them “virtues”). These core values were qualities that he valued above all others. They were: temperance, silence, order, resolution, chastity, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, and humility.
But it isn’t enough just to HAVE personal core values, we also need to live up to them.
So how did Benjamin Franklin live up to his core values? He made a chart containing all 13 of them and every day he tried his darndest to demonstrate his core values through his words and actions. And every night before bed, he recorded whether or not he had lived up to each of his core values on that particular day.
Talk about dedication!
What Benjamin Franklin was trying to do was to live a life of “Integrity”.
A person is said to have integrity if their actions line up with their core values and beliefs. However, if a person values and believes one thing but does something entirely different, they would be said to lack integrity.
Benefits Of Exploring Your Core Values & Level of Integrity
The benefits of exploring your core values are countless.
One of the most basic benefits is self-discovery which is an important prerequisite to personal growth.
Psychologist, Tal Ben-Shahar, gives another benefit in his book Happier:
“Determine whether or not there is congruence—integrity—between your highest values and the way you live. With increased integrity comes increased happiness.”Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar
It seems that living up to our own values and expectations plays a significant role in our happiness, which makes sense.
If you value certain qualities or characteristics, but for whatever reason you aren’t living up to them, there is conflict between your actions, thoughts, and core values.
It should be no surprise that this conflict can lead to frustration, unhappiness, and even lack of self-respect.
“Our self-respect tracks our choices. Every time we act in harmony with our authentic self and our heart, we earn our respect. It’s that simple.”– Dan Coppersmith
By evaluating our core values and whether or not we are living up to them, we give ourselves the opportunity to make adjustments so that our actions are more aligned with our core values.
This increased integrity can help us build self-respect and in turn, self-love.
Convinced yet? Good! Let’s get started!
How To Explore Your Core Values With An Integrity Report
James Clear, the New York Times best-selling author and popular personal growth blogger, came up with the concept of The Integrity Report. He completes his own Integrity Report every year to hold himself accountable to his core values.
If you’d like to see an example of a completed Integrity Report, check out:
Now it’s time to learn how to do your own Integrity Report!
Step 1: List Your Core Values
Trying to come up with a list of core values will likely take some time as it requires a good deal of introspection. Aim for roughly three to five (or more if you’re feeling ambitious!) qualities or characteristics that you value most. These will be your core values.
If you are struggling to come up with a list of core values, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who do I admire and strive to be like?
- What specific qualities or characteristics of theirs am I drawn to?
- What qualities am I proud of in myself?
- What qualities or characteristics would other people say define me?
- What qualities or characteristics would I want in a partner, friend, family member or coworker?
- Would I want any of those same characteristics in myself?
If you’re still struggling to think of your core values consider the following options:
- Ask someone close to you what characteristics they value in you.
- Are these characteristics you also value in yourself? If so, write them down!
- Look at the examples of the two completed Integrity Reports at the beginning of this section for inspiration.
Do not worry if you cannot complete this step in one sitting. This step was the one that took the most time and thought for me. I thought about mine for probably a week or so before I finally settled on the core values that really defined who I wanted to be as a person.
If you feel stuck, I encourage you to put your list away for a little while. Don’t stress! Your core values will come to you eventually.
When they do, write them down and continue on to step 2!
Step 2: Evaluate How Well You Have Lived Up To Your Core Values
Alright, now that you have a your own list of core values, it’s time to evaluate how well you’ve been living up to them (in other words, have you been living with integrity?).
I plan to do an Integrity Report at the end of every year, so I would look at my behavior for the past year. But you can really look at any period of time that you would like.
In this step, brainstorm as many examples as possible of times that you:
- Have lived up to each core value, and
- Have not lived up to each core value.
Be as specific as possible here. Give examples. The more specific, the better.
Keep in mind that this should be an open and honest evaluation of your past thoughts, habits, and actions. The more honest you are, the more you will get from this exercise.
But, remember that the purpose of this exercise is NOT to make you feel bad about yourself. It is simply to give you perspective and a starting point so that you can work to hold yourself more accountable to your core values moving forward.
Step 3: Determine If Your Current Goals Are In Line With Your Core Values
I have added this step. It was not present in James Clear’s original Integrity Report.
The purpose of this step is to give you the opportunity to stop and think about whether you are living up to your own standards, or the standards of others.
Many times people spend so much time trying to please others and conform to the group that they put their own core values aside in favor of someone else’s.
“The reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.”– Rita Mae Brown
This step allows you to hit pause and ask yourself whether or not the goals you are currently working towards will even make you happy.
If your goals are in line with your personal core values, achieving them will bring self-respect, self-love, and happiness.
But if the goals you are pursuing are not in line with your personal core values and are instead really just to please others, you will have wasted a lot of blood, sweat, and tears working towards a goal that isn’t even going to make you happy in the long-run.
For these reasons, stop and take a minute to ask yourself if your current goals align with your core values. If they do, awesome, keep at it! If not, it may be time to reevaluate them and see if they are still taking you in the right direction.
I think this step has the potential to save you a lot of heartache in the long-run (and who doesn’t want that?!).
Step 4: Brainstorm Ways You Can Live With More Integrity Going Forward
Finally, in the last step of the Integrity Report, you will brainstorm ways that you can make your thoughts, habits, and actions line up more with your personal core values going forward.
Take a look back at step 2. In the past, which of your core values did you struggle to stick to the most? Choose one or two that you would like to improve in the coming year (or other period of time that works well for you).
Now brainstorm different ways that you could live up to this (/these) core value(s) more going forward.
Next, look at step 3. If you found that your goals did not line up well with your own personal core values, brainstorm ways that you could change that.
Do you need to scrap the goal altogether? Are there ways that you could tweak it to make it more in line with your personal core values?
I encourage you to use your creativity as much as possible on this step! Think outside the box. Consider all the options. Don’t worry about the feasibility of the idea right now. Just write down anything and everything that comes to mind.
Then, once you have written down every idea, go back through and circle the options that you would like to try first.
How To Dramatically Boost Your Self-Respect
Whew! How did that go? I hope you found listing and exploring your core values with the Integrity Report as valuable as I did!
After completing this exercise, you should find that you understand your personal core values much better. But you’re not done yet!
The next step is to translate those core values into actions so that they become a reality. Once you are living up to your personal core values on a daily basis, your self-respect, self-worth, confidence and overall life satisfaction will improve.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s far from an overnight fix. It requires plenty of thoughtful effort and purposeful execution, but it can be done!
I can’t wait to hear how this goes for you!
Share your progress, ask me questions, or join in on our FREE weekly personal growth & wellness challenges in my supportive Facebook community!
See you there!
P.S. Don’t forget to snag your copy of the Integrity report if you haven’t yet!