Personal Values and Core Beliefs

Take Stock of These Assets when Making Self Improvement Plans

Personal growth is most effective when based on a sound plan. Just as a special vacation trip’s success depends largely on planning, so does the success of a personal development journey. As with a vacation trip, a personal growth journey requires specifying both a destination and a starting point.

The starting point of a self improvement plan is established with the six assets of personal growth: Life Purpose, Passions, Unique Strengths, Lesser Competencies, Values, and Beliefs. The destination is the personal growth planner’s vision of whom she wishes to become.

The personal growth planner may wish to first read Personal Growth Plan: A Personal Asset Inventory for an overall process overview.

What are Values?

Values are the fifth asset useful for personal growth planning. Values are deeply held convictions which guide behaviors and decisions. Personal values are the components of a life of integrity. When honoring values a person feels right, in-tune with and true to themselves. Stress often results from being out of alignment with values.

Examples of personal values might include integrity, generosity, diligence, persistence, and humor. There are hundreds of words in the English language describing personal values, though each individual might hold dear to a handful.

Family Values

Most values are established during childhood. Under the influence of parents, teachers, and religious leaders, a child picks up a sense of what is right and wrong, good and bad. As a child matures and has experiences outside the influences of childhood, she may absorb new values, perhaps in addition to her existing value set or replacing earlier values.

A Personal Code of Values

The daily life of a fully functioning adult is an expression of deeply held values. Choices of friends, mate, employment, and entertainment are often the result of decisions based on values. Recognizing the importance of one’s code of values, the personal development planner must clearly understand her value set as it will have a profound influence on her development.

Values and Beliefs

Values and beliefs are important components of one’s personal assets. They are similar in that both are simply thoughts about aspects of life. Both values and beliefs tend to fall into one’s truths about life. To differentiate them, think of values as more self-oriented and beliefs as mostly outward-directed.

Core Beliefs

Beliefs are the sixth and final asset to inventory as the basis for personal growth planning. Beliefs are a person’s truths, the rules for living, and the view of the way life is. While being out of alignment with values causes stress, being out of alignment with beliefs causes anger.

What are Beliefs?

Like values, beliefs are deeply held truths about life. As with values, beliefs are one’s thoughts about some aspect of life, the way it is and the way it should be. Core beliefs are not universal truths, but an individual’s truths. Think of beliefs as long term perspectives about life, about all life not just one’s own life.

Examples of core beliefs might include: all people are created equal, life is hard, life is easy, people of a certain race or gender are inferior (or superior), each person is fully responsible for life’s circumstances, or a person has little control over life’s circumstances.

Inventorying Values and Beliefs

Taking an honest inventory of one’s assets is an inside job, especially those assets of a personal code of values and deeply held core beliefs. Both are deep within a fully functioning adult, both are held to be true, therefore not subject to questioning, and cultural influences tend to pressure a person to ascribe to those of the culture.

Still, the personal growth planner must come to grips with her own deeply held values and beliefs as they will influence her growth path.

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