NOTE: This post originally appeared in my Musepreneur column on the Wishstudio.
What brings you alive? Maybe your spirit soars when you see a stunning sunset. Perhaps you feel most at home when you’re experiencing the thrill of foreign cities or cultures. Or you beam with excitement when you’re creating and connecting with your best friends. These moments of aliveness speak to your core values.
Your core values are what you hold as most important to you. Values are your lifeblood. They give your life meaning and richness.
Values also help you authentically run a business. Many right-brain entrepreneurs honor their personal values through their creative work, so your business values most likely will be based on your personal ones. I know mine are!
Identifying Your Core Values
To identify your core values, reflect back on times in your life when you felt fully alive. When have you been happy and totally fulfilled? Your special moments could be significant events or simple pleasures from your day-to-day life. They could be from when you were a little kid or from just this morning.
In these peak moments, who were you being? What was going on around you? What were you doing? What were you feeling? Write down as much detail as you can. Once you’re done reflecting, go back and circle words that stand out to you. Those circled words are a good start to creating your list of values. Begin to group the values into strings that make sense to you. For example, beauty/creativity/expression might be a string and adventure/freedom/exploration might be another.
You can download my free values form for more ideas and guidance through the process of identifying your core values. Ultimately, you’ll want to end up with a list of your top 5-10 core values.
Getting Down to Business
Look at your values list again and see which ones apply to your creative business. It may be all of them, or just a few. What do you and your business stand for?
In your creative work, expressing your values gives people a sense of who you are and what’s important to you. How do your values show up in your blog, offerings, artwork, or interactions?
Create Your Business “Values Chain”
Stay connected with your values by crafting your own business “values chain.” No, I’m not referring to that dry MBA concept of “value chain analysis” and competitive advantage that you might’ve heard suits drone on about. Instead, remember those colorful paper chains you made in grade school? Now that’s way more delightful!
Cut sheets of construction paper lengthwise into approximately 8.5″ x 1.5″ strips. Write or rubber stamp each of your values on individual strips. Feel free to decorate with creative embellishments like images, stickers, or glitter glue to fancy it up. Take one strip – decorated side-up – and curl it into a circle. Then glue or staple the edges together. Take the next strip and loop it through the first circle before attaching the edges together to create your chain. Keep repeating until you’ve linked all of your values together into a gorgeous garland that you can hang in your office or studio.
If you’d rather work with collage instead of making a values chain, consider creating a deck of collaged values cards. They’re another great way to stay connected to your core values.
How well are you honoring your values in your life and your creative business right now? What do you notice when you don’t honor them? How can you honor your values even more? What new choices are you willing to make in order to live and work in alignment with your values?