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Write a List of Your Values and Everything Else Will Follow

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What kind of person are you?

Most of us would probably answer the question by listing traits. You might describe yourself, for example, as friendly, creative, confident, independent, meticulous, or calm.

That’s an understandable response. We tend to believe that our personalities or other external characteristics are what define us. And, sure, these traits can stem from who you are. But what truly shapes us, what forms the foundation of our character, are our values.

Values are our fundamental beliefs, informing our thoughts, words, and actions. If we don’t set our own core values, we end up losing ourselves in other people’s values. That’s how we become dependent on our friends, family members, or partners to define us. Our identities are no longer our own.

That’s why I recently wrote a list of my own core values, something I can return to whenever I’m feeling lost. Here are my values and how I define them.


Be the same person regardless of who you’re with — parents, friends, co-workers, in-laws, strangers. Stay true to yourself at all times. And never be afraid of other people’s judgments.


Tell the truth, especially when it comes to your own life. Don’t have money? Don’t pretend that you’re wealthy. Never went to college? Own it. Be honest about who you are and what you’ve done.


Never do something you hate for longer than is necessary. Life’s too short for that. Do what brings you joy, including the small things: listening to music, spending time with other people, working out, walking, laying down, reading.


Get to the bottom of everything that interests you, not because it’s required, but because it’s fun to know things. Acknowledge that life is fascinating, and try to understand it. But also know that some things can’t be understood, and that’s beautiful, too.


Own your actions and mistakes. Understand what’s in your control. Don’t like something? Change it. But don’t take responsibility for things that are not in your lane. Focus on yourself. What other adults do is neither your concern nor your responsibility.


Build intimate and deep relationships with a few people. Depth matters more than breadth. Spend more time with your spouse than your co-workers. Get to know your siblings on a deeper level. Have two or three friends that you make a priority. Love your family.


Don’t fear the future. And don’t be afraid of what people you don’t care about think of you. The only opinions that matter are yours and those of your loved ones. Everything else is noise. Have dignity. Do the right thing, and don’t fear the rest.


Once you build a bond with someone, don’t break it unless necessary. Do what it takes to maintain that bond. But even more important, stay loyal to yourself. Never sacrifice your own well-being for others. Treat yourself like you would treat anyone you love.

Your list will likely look different. But once you make one, you’ll know what a relief it can be to see the most important parts of you clearly spelled out. Once you know who you are in life, you stop trying to be who you’re not.

Author of 7 books, including Think Straight | My online course, Wealth Strategies, is now free:

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