What Are Core Values and Why Do You Need Them?

core values

I’m an entrepreneur. We are known for thriving on change, but let me tell you, near the end of 2020 when we were about a year into the pandemic, I was required to change so much that I was careening toward burnout. Normally, I love problem solving, but owning a financial services business during economic uncertainty maxed out my capacity for doing it. 

One day as I was trying to talk some clients down from the ledge, I thought, “Wow, I have no idea what my core values are. I don’t know where I’m headed or why.” 

Have you ever had a moment like this? 

The reason that core values came to mind is that core values have always driven my business decisions. These deeply engrained principles drive everything my company does and how my employees function and they’ve worked—we have achieved great heights. Why, I thought, not apply them—even if they’re different from my business core values—to my personal life? 

 

 

My first core value—adventure—was easy. I’ve always loved adventure. During the pandemic, adventure was nearly impossible to find and the effect of not having any meant that I was having zero fun. I wasn’t in awe of anything, I was bored. Working within the restrictions of the pandemic, I started getting up a 5 a.m. and taking a walk at sunrise. While it wasn’t the magnitude of adventure that I’m used to, watching the light fall on an awakening world was enough to reignite my creative brain. As the city slowly started coming back to life, but travel remained largely off of the table, I started wandering down to a wine bar down my street, sitting at the bar and getting to know strangers just like I used to do when traveling to Europe or Central America.  

By the time the Great Freeze of 2021 happened (I live in Texas, this is when we had an ice storm that brought us to our knees), my adventure core value had so opened my mind to possibility, that I sold my house (who wants to deal with frozen pipes?), moved into a townhouse and paid for a lot two doors down from my brother in Honduras for a future home. That’s what happened from watching the sunrise! 

Next, I focused on my second core value: Alignment. 

The concept of alignment comes from a personal relationship that I have with a higher power. I believe that everyone is here to do something and if you're not doing that something, it’s basically like slapping that higher power in the face. I’m here to help others align with their own purpose. Hence, alignment and the founding of Vixen (see how creating core values leads to action even if you’re not aware of it?). 

My third core value—affection—goes a hand-in-hand with alignment. Just like I’ve always loved helping people align with their purpose, I love giving affection. Yet during the pandemic, I realized that while I’m good at giving affection, I’m not great at receiving it. When I go into Super Woman mode I give and when people try to offer love, I keep them at arm’s length, which is actually really insulting. I mean think about anytime you’ve tried to give affection—even to someone you don’t know well— and they say, “I’m fine.” It doesn’t feel good. That was a major ah ha moment for me. So I started focusing on giving and receiving attention. This has led (again) to some wonderful experiences. 

Since I’ve created my own personal core values, I’ve noticed a few things happen: 

  1. I have an easier time making decisions 
  2. I have more power over my life 
  3. I live more authentically 

 

Core Values Eliminate Decision Fatigue 

The average adult makes 35,000 decisions a day—35,000!—which is why decision fatigue is a thing. Decision fatigue is what happens when you get home at night and can’t decide what to eat for dinner even though you’re starving. You can’t decide on lasagna or a salad or soup because your brain is literally already worn out from making too many other decisions. 

Living by your core values can eliminate decision fatigue. When you have core values, you’re much more tapped into your intuition so making decisions is easier. For example, when I started Vixen, I had a super badass friend who is very successful in financial services ask to be part of it. But, as we were chatting, I realized that she wasn’t as aligned with my purpose as I was. She was looking for more of a networking opportunity whereas I really wanted to help women live more authentic lives. 

When I look at my day and the list of decisions that have to be made, I ask myself, “does this work with my goals of alignment, affection, or adventure?” If the answer is no, I pass. 

When your core values are clear, it’s easy to avoid decision fatigue because so many decisions become an automatic no.  

 

Core Values Give You Power 

No is a powerful word that protects your energy and your time. Strong core values that drive decision making give you the power of time. Instead of worrying about a decision until you’ve worked yourself into a frenzy, the answer is clear. 

 

Do you want to take a promotion that has you flying across the country? 

No. Family is a core value. I plan to stay here, thank you very much. 

 

Do you want to go to dinner with your girlfriend this weekend even though it might be hard to find a sitter? 

Yes. Affection is a core value. I give and receive affection from my friends. 

 

Do you want to go on a second date with the person you met last week? 

No. He/she spoke disrespectfully about his/her ex. Respect is one of my core values. 

 

Being able to say no definitively frees up the headspace that is often occupied with thoughts of, should I, or should I not? Take that last question—do you want to go on a second date with the person you met last week? Without core values, you might spend considerable time wondering if you should give that person a second chance. You might write off their disrespectful comments as just a common reaction people have to their exes. You might wonder if you heard them incorrectly.  

Without your core values, you might give the person a second chance. Then, a few months later when it doesn’t work out after you’ve invested time and energy in the relationship, you’ll wonder why you didn’t listen to yourself in the first place. 

When core values are intact, the path you need to choose is immediately clear. 

 

Core Values Lead to Authentic Living 

When you start living according to your core values, you will find that everything you do feels more like you. Once I identified alignment, affection and adventure as my core values, I started feeling a lot more like April. 

 

Core Values Activity: 

If you’re new to Vixen (welcome!)

  1. Get three pieces of paper 
  2. At the top of each, list a decision that you’ve been struggling with—this can be a big decision or small one. If you can’t think of one, start small 
  3. Draw three columns and label the top of each with one of your three core values 
  4. On the side of the paper, draw a yes and no row 
  5. Work through the chart marking an “x” where a yes or no decision aligns with your core values  

What did you learn?



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