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You probably know your company’s core values well. Maybe you can even recite them. But what about your own values? You know inherently what you value and stand for, but have you ever truly articulated it?

Identifying your values is foundational to exuding your brand. It is the core of who you are and what emanates outward to others. Companies that stick to their core values are more recognizable and more successful in the marketplace. The same holds true to individuals. And not only are they more recognizable, they are also more fulfilled. When work and life are aligned with your values, this is when you are at your best. You are positioned to succeed.

When work and life are misaligned with your values, you experience unhappiness, unrest, fatigue and develop practices or behaviors that do not align with your personal brand and principles. Sometimes, we end up here because our values have changed over time. This is normal. When you are starting in your career, for example, you may more highly value money, success and doing whatever it takes to propel yourself forward. As you age, you may more highly prioritize balancing work with time for friends and family.

How to Determine Your Core Values and Executive Mission Statement

Most of us have vague notions of what we value, but if prompted, we may not be able to articulate what is truly important to us. Sure, we know the things that societally we know we should—and likely do—value. Things like family and friendship and a peaceful world. But what matters to us as individuals that makes us our unique selves?

The first step is reflection. When you think back at times in your life when you were happiest, when you felt most confident, what were you doing in work and life? Who were you spending time with? Let’s use those moments as a tool to begin uncovering your values. Consider the following questions and make a list of your responses:

Think back to a time in your life when you felt good about who you were and what you were doing. Consider both work and personal life.

  • What did you value then?
  • What gave you purpose?
  • What else made you feel fulfilled?
  • What made you proud?
  • What made others proud of you?

Once you have addressed these questions completely, now think about the elements you uncovered that still hold true with where you are today. What has changed? What is new that wasn’t in the picture then? Now address the following questions and record your responses.

  • What do you value now?
  • What gives you purpose?
  • What else makes you feel fulfilled?
  • What makes you proud?
  • What makes others proud of you?

After you have reflected on what you valued in the past and in the present, think about words that describe those core values. To help you get started, here is a word cloud of common values, but certainly feel free to come up with your own too. You should aim to start a list of about 10 values and then work to narrow it down to 3-5 words that are core to who you are at this point in your life.

executive values

Once you have come up with a list of 3-5 words that resonate with you, it’s time to turn them into simple value statements. A values statement can look like the following examples:

  • I value giving back to my community.
  • I value open-mindedness.
  • I value life-long learning.

Your values statements should be short, single phrases. The values statements will be used to write your personal mission.

It’s time to write your mission. Your mission statement should be succinct and articulate your purpose. A good mission statement will guide you throughout your career, help you choose the best course when you’re at a crossroads, and serve as the elevator pitch-size statement for your personal brand.

Your mission statement should reflect not only your values (what you stand for), but it should also include your past contributions (what you’re known for) and your goals (what you still want to achieve). Consider these three elements as you write your statement:

  1. Start by referring to your values statements.
  2. Now think about your contributions and what you are known for. List those.
  3. Lastly, what do you still want to achieve? List your desired achievements.

Now that you have identified each component, you can begin to craft your mission statement. Don’t try to include everything. Include what you consider to be most core to who you are and what you want to accomplish in life.

Once crafted, your personal mission statement will act as the building block for your brand. It should set the tone for how you engage with the world and shape your voice.