finding your core.

i have read several business books throughout the years, for college, in college, and beyond. it is so funny how focused we are on obtaining ‘it’ ($) but have you ever stepped back to figure out why we as a people want it.

being ‘rich’ to me is far more than obtaining wealth, for me there are things equivalent or even greater than simply having financial freedom. what about health, happiness, joy, relationships, adventure. etc.

possessions are the great salve. they cover, but they are not responsible for the healing. it seems we have been trained by handsome women and pretty women in the advertising that everyone seems happier when they are holding a bottle of _________. so year after year we begin to accumulate, and after awhile they have bought themselves into poverty with their hurt and pain still following them every turn they make.

i think this is why there are so many men and women who have quarter/mid life crisis, and changing of jobs, and spouses. they are hurting children/teens that never quite healed the hurt through the proper anecdote of communication, counseling, forgiveness etc. and instead turned to the american dream thinking that it was also the american reconciler.

why do we focus on the superfluous (money) when its really the ‘core values’ that we are after. i’m sure with very little hesitancy we could all name ‘things’ we wanted right off the top of our head, (new car, appliance, clothes, cell phone, etc.) but i think it is going to take you longer to find what values you hold.

david bach wrote a book in which i am going to paraphrase a section, he believes in a life-planning process. so what were going to do is to create a ‘core value circle’. what i want you to do is to find the top 5 values that are most important to you, that ‘drives you in the decisions you make everyday.’ select the 5 values based on what your instincts tell you and not what looks good on paper. DO NOT confuse goals for values, ‘being rich would be a goal, but wanting security would be the value.’ write these five values in a circle on a piece of paper, in the middle write “my core values”.

(‘here are some words to help you identify some core values: security, freedom, happiness, peace of mind, fun, excitement, power, family, marriage, friends, making a difference, spirituality, independence, growth, creativity, adventure, fulfillment, confidence, balance, love, health…’)

why do we focus on the superfluous (money) when its really the ‘core values’ that we are after. i’m sure with very little hesitancy we could all name ‘things’ we wanted right off the top of our head, (new car, appliance, clothes, cell phone, etc.) but i think it is going to take you longer to find what values you hold.

from now on when you are making decisions with your time, money, energy, etc. just compare it to your new values. why are you buying a new jacket when what makes you happy is your value of ‘adventure’? go on a road trip, go get lost in the woods somewhere. why are you trying to salve your way through creativity? why are you medicating yourself through independence?

stick to your core.


Tunafish said…
nice advice =) thanks for posting I'll have to try it out. Jesus loves you! =)
Anonymous said…
So true! all you said I agree! thanks for share and for your music it means a world to me :)
MeggersRiot said…
So true! all you said I agree! thanks for share and for your music it means a world to me :)
Kat Di said…
Thanks to reading your blog, I already have figured out my 5 core values: spirituality, independence, family, fun, and a tie between love, health, and friends.
Michelle said…
This was difficult.
5 core values...this will require a lot of thought.
And so the adventure beguins...:)
sway said…

my 5 are:
love, friends, family (all three are the same to me, really), kindness, independence.

JonLoveAlone said…
Stephen, you are so right. I have had situations where it cane time for me to find my core. This entry has surely helped. You are such an awesome person! Keep encouraging the true elements of man, and the elements from above. God bless! See you in Corpus Christi, TX. Front and center! Big fan!

Anonymous said…
So inpiring! God Bless you and Your Music.
Sarah Marie said…
Mm, good points! I'm definetly going to be thinking about this.
Anonymous said…
that blog entry really made me think not just about myself but about life. i've figured out that my 5 core values are: freedom, faith, family, friends, and fulfillment weird because they all start with the letter "f" haha
Amberique said…
ah, this is so very applicable to my life right now. i've been wading through a lot of questions...why do i go to college, why is success equated with immense salaries in prestigious positions?

who ever decided that small pieces of green paper were so valuable to the human existence? and how am i going to escape the engulfing trap of equating my identity with the numbers in my bank account?

core values. reasons to keep living. so very important and yet so easy to forget.

Amandasaurus said…
Oh! So true. You know, I'm all about the starving artist lifestyle and yet I get so upset when people aren't trying to further themselves. When an opportunity presents itself, shouldn't we take it? Yet which is really the greater value? Success or suffering for one's art? It depends on the person I guess, but it's so easy to mix it up.
Stephen - you're an amazing man, & your voice and influence goes far further than you realise. I'm a 50-something musician and huge fan of yours (seen u live twice), and also a passionate follower of the King! What you do and how you live inspires so many. Love & prayers always.
Melody Snook said…
Do you think that in choosing 5 core values and sticking to them you may be limiting yourself in other areas?

But maybe 5 is about as much as we can handle, because I have read in another book them suggesting thinking of your 5 core values. The book is called 'Chazown' (The hebrew word for vision) by Craig Groeschell if anyone in interested.

I did very much enjoy the read, but also love to pick people brains!
Orrin said…
Business books are good for more than just making money and becoming consumer oriented. Good business books teach us the value of relationships and non-monetary things in life. Good ones also teach stewardship which is important no matter how much money or friends you have in your life.
Claudia said…
I am going through a time now that I am having to make lots of decisions. So I will definitely try to choose my vales, I'm sure it will help me a lot :) Thanks Stephen. Once again I agree with everything you have said.
Jill said…
great entry! i think that many people sleepwalk through life without thinking about these sorts of things at all. my values: love, reason, truth, peace, and kindness.
RaquelKC said…
Right on. I'm totally with you on this.
Lately I've been spending more on others than myself, or I've been spending on myself in a way that involves me with others. Traveling to spend time with friends, buying tons of ingredients to make fun snacks with a 1st & 4th grader, random gifts for friends... all of that brings me MUCH more joy than when I buy things only I benefit from.
So that definitely points to Relationships & my Love for people as core values.
Also, speaking of the superfluous, I recently tore through my room and trashed or got rid of over half of my belongings, and the feeling of having less stuff is so freeing. Less distraction.
That in general, less distraction, is what can bring us closer to what we love. We'll feel less stressed about spending our precious time with what we love and hold dear instead of spending it on what only stretches us thin.
God Bless!
Kelly said…
It is so easy to fall into the money trap. We always seem to want just a little more. It doesn't matter if your rich or poor, what you have usually isn't enough. Even if we don't want to admit it. I have found though that when I take myself out of my own little world, and spend time with those the world sees as failures and outcasts, they give me more than I could ever have given them, and I can say I truly am "rich" and fulfilled because I took a look at the world through the eyes of Jesus.
Thank you Stephen for your blog!
Anonymous said…
These bloggy blogs of yours are so helpful in so many areas of my life. I'll definitely be giving a lot of thought as to what my 5 core values are. ;)
Renny said…
This reminds me of a talk I just heard about the need to return to virtue. We need to get back to what is truly important.
Virtue, value #1 for me :)
Janelle said…
When I was in high school, my mom used to ask me what I wanted to major in in college & would get angry when I told her I didn't care about how much money I made, I just cared about doing something I actually enjoyed. She'd tell me how important money is.

I'm currently a journalism major, & I love it. Sure, there's potential to make a lot of money, but there's also a good chance I'll make enough to get by, & I'm completely okay with that.

My oldest cousin is going into pharmacy for the money, but the best example of all is a good friend of mine who would love, more than anything, to write but is instead going into the sciences for the money.

No idea what my 5 are. It's going to take a lot of thinking to narrow it down.
Annna said…
Every word here is amazingly true. It's incredible how grounded you are, and it's really an inspiration to me and I'm sure to others.
This is one of the many reasons why I love you and Anberlin. ♥
Wow, good stuff. :-)
samsamsam said…
"so year after year we begin to accumulate, and after awhile they have bought themselves into poverty with their hurt and pain still following them every turn they make."

i think it was c.s lewis who said that we all have this sort of "void" and that we try and fill that void with material possessions and limited things...then he goes on and says that the only thing that can fill that void is the love of God...its true that a majority of people drive themselves into debt and poverty trying to somehow make use of themselves and try and find identity, self worth and gratitude in material things when the only thing that can give them their true identity is the Jesus.
Diana said…
I am definitely taking your advice. I want to become a nomad for this organization called LiNK, Liberty In North Korea, and for the most part of being a nomad they provide stuff for you but you need to at least provide $1,000 for yourself. I don't have that kind of money so basically I'm going to save money so I can use it to become a nomad for LiNK. At least when I use the money that I don't have it'll be for a good cause and something that I'm passionate about. If you can check out the organization it's an eye opener.
Bri said…
I think that humanity is losing touch with what it really wants. We all have that 'hole' we are trying to fill and we cram it full of things like money, lust, whatever, and what we are really searching for is God. And the people that say there isn't one will never be satisfied because they will never find what they're missing if they don't believe in it. It's heartbreaking, but humanity. So thanks for making us stop and think and appreciate everything we have and strive to have everything that we need
Anonymous said…
What ironic. I am currently considerng (I've even applied to the University) going back to school to further my education, and obtain a higher degree. Through all the excitement, I still cannot answer the question of "WHY" am I doing this? I don't forsee enjoying my job any more in the end than I do now. So, is it for money, I ask. How futile that seems. I'd rather be working for those who NEED it more. Thanks for providing another perspective. Your words are so true, in life and music.
Anonymous said…

Very well written, kudos! It's really neat to find people in our world that share similar views on life. Very few people express this perspective or even care about it. Your blog reminds me of the phrase stating that"it's not the quantity of life, it's the quality." I'm going to try the circle of values, it's a great exercise :)

Jackie Gadea
A. Hawkins said…
I'm sorry to say but when it comes to the background of some of my favorite bands I'm a bit ignorant. You see, yesterday I saw Anberlin and TBS at Croc Rock (allentown 10/26/09) and I heard my friend sarah talking about the book you wrote. It intrigued me so I dug a little bit and stubbled upon this. I would have to agree in so many ways with what you just stated. The tawdry materialism that society today breeds is a problem. I do really think it is explainable though. The things we buy are to us; a means to gain happiness. It maybe ill-placed but it is still to many a path to gain what we all long for. Advertising plays a big role in this. Do not the models holding the bottles of _____ always look happy and fulfilled? and can you blame people for flocking to this? Being happy is what we all seek. Getting to the root of the core values; do they not all make you happy? At the center isn't that what we all long for? If someone tells you that ____ makes you happy would you not seek it? It maybe a wild goose chase but it is at least an understandable one and I'm not trying to say it is alright. I've been well off and in comparable poverty in my short life. Neither one really made me happy. I do like the "core values" concept though. It is an excellent way to try to find the things that make you happy.
"Man is free at the moment he wishes to be."
Adam H
PS. Definitely gunna read your book!
e. said…
to stephen:

thanks for this post [and your blog as a whole]. this is actually a confirmation of something i've been needing to hear lately. :) long story. will share sometime.

and @adamh:

you bring up a fascinating point! coincidentally, i've actually been thinking a lot lately about what you just said.

and i find [though i may be completely wrong] that we often confuse "happiness" with "joy." for example, buying that jacket and receiving that legitimate/and/or/false satisfaction and self-esteem from that jacket equals happiness. but seeing your father heal of cancer or something just as emotionally wrenching and "raw" equals joy.

we constantly hunt for instant gratification. what makes me happy right now. we dig into that amazing piece of steak and then two weeks later, we forget about it because we're enjoying a gourmet italian feast.

but when we experience joy--like a miracle healing--we climb back to those memories when we're at our darkest points and are able to relive them. joy transcends time.

i think "core values" speak more toward these joys that will last in our lives as opposed to actions that DO legitimately make us happy, but only momentarily. so powerful if we really let ourselves think about it!

imagine if we lived our lives completely focused on these joys even at the expensive of some of our "happiness." what would that look like? :) i'm still trying to find out..

A. Hawkins said…
That is a very good point and I would have to agree. I do though think that those are still external factors that bring us happiness. I think that core values have more to do with our own actions internally. To me, having a set of core values is supposed to guide your actions. So instead of buying that feast or jacket you go for a walk in the woods or go gaze at the stars. I think that core values have more to do with our everyday actions and less with momentous life changing events like a recovery to a disease. I think that's what your were getting at in the last paragraph but i just wanted to clarify.
Eugenia said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
e. said…
:) so true... i think i've been missing some of those everyday joy-filled actions lately, which is maybe why i subconsciously left them out. thanks for the reminder.. may go for a walk in the rain tomorrow!
nicogirl said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
nicogirl said…
Cut Me to the Core:

I have been wrestling with this for a while. You see I AM THE GIRL ON THE BOTTLE telling you that ________will make you feel better.

I am a national makeup artist for a huge cosmetic firm. I have to look a certain perfect as possible. You come to see me and after you confide in me what you want "we" make an image to present to the world. I was happy in what I believed was "making a difference" in the lives of women and yes sometimes men.

As time moved on my sessions have been changed by corporate management to "strongly" suggesting you buy this or that to morph into the new you we have created....therein lays the conflict. Am I helping or hurting? Boosting confidence or selling the "American Dream"?

A. Hawkins: you bring up a very good point: "Can you blame people for flocking to this?"

Would you take an opportunity to have a "movie star" moment to see what you could look like out from under that bad haircut and wrong for you outfit? I have always taken the time to get to know a person and tweak the appointment to their God given beauty...bringing it out...never covering it's always there... No cookie cutter trendy stuff. ALL faces are beautiful to me. I help you be the best YOU.

The huge smile at the end of the appointment is my payment. Often times, the shy person that arrived in the beginning changes to a new creature right before me, even walking out with changed attitude, posture and's exciting. The world is their oyster..and they are renewed...what could be wrong with that?

However: I would have to say that recently the job and my core values do NOT match up. The only thing they care about now is $$$. I am constantly being pushed to compromise my core values. To remedy this, I RESIGNED YESTERDAY. The pressure to sell as much as $10,000 in one day is ridiculous...I am sure I will be able to use my skills in a different way... On my own terms at my own fair price...but I can't SELL, {shove down your throat} thousands of dollars of the American Dream a day to benefit my own pocket any longer...Ta Ta... huge corporate monster...I will only miss the people I made smile :)

I believe that being "accepted" is what all this chasing the American Dream is about. If you change your core values you shift what "accepted" looks and feels like.

The chase is ON...what are you after?
e. said…
WOW - nicogirl, thank you SO MUCH for sharing. Congratulations on your resignation. That's an incredibly bold move--especially in this economy. As a "starving artist" who mostly pays her bills by bartending, it's ridiculously encouraging to hear someone else's struggle with "the huge corporate monster." I have complete faith that anyone who dares to make crazy "core-based" decisions like yours will run into miracles and lots of open doors. ;) Knock 'em dead. You're one to change the world with those kinds of moves!
Alyssa DeRosa said…
As a high school student preparing for life, I have been told over and over that the career path I choose, will not make me successful. When I ask people exactly what they mean, they tell me that I won't make a lot of money. After I explain to them that I'm more concerned with chasing my dreams, feeling accomplished, and being happy in life, they start to understand a little bit better. When they ask how I expect to come up with the money I need to live, I tell them it's impossible to say how much or how little money I'll make. Life is full of making decisions, and it seems to me that the people who follow their hearts and stick to their "core values" are the most successful. In every way. What's the point of having millions of dollars, if you're broken inside? Money will not buy happiness, nor will it buy love.
daniel mark said…
i heard almost this same message recently correlated with marriage. it's beautiful. your last paragraph speaks so much truth for all who starve trying to fill themselves. we are hungry people needing to hear the words from the mount.
A. Hawkins said…
I completely agree with Alyssa DeRosa. I am myself a high school student -senior to be exact- and my parents are constantly pressuring me to become a doctor when I have no interest in medicine. I've always wanted to write but as my parents constantly say "Writers make no money". I tell them that money is just a thing to get other things and things cannot make one happy. I'm glad someone else agrees. :)
Andrea said…
thanks stephen. you rule.

I like the part about how they are still just hurt teens and children. that's why I want to get better NOW instead of waiting until I hurt other people as an adult
Anonymous said…
You and Glenn Beck rule!
Jeff Goins said…
great advice, thanks.
Shanrocks777 said…
My values off the top of my head:

1. Knowledge/wisdom
2. Self growth/awareness
3. Respect/esteem
4. Harmony/equality
5. Honesty/integrity

I can't say I've ever sought after riches as a life goal, and I guess it shows because I certainly don't have them. I also don't have a lot of modern gadgets and plush 'toys' (and I don't mean stuffed animals :). I actually rarely have guests over because if I'm not content here, I don't expect anyone else to be. Now that I'm getting older, I can't help but have the goal of being able to provide better for my family and kids, assuming I have them before it's too late. I'd want to raise children in a house and an environment where their health, safety and security are at least in tact. Just something I've been thinking ahead to..
Sarah K said…
Thanks Stephen for the reminder. I think i will need this for when i start my freshmen year in college in the fall of 2010. I will make a list and bring it with me to my dorm like i will bring my new years resolution (:
The Seeker. said…
hahaha I'm loving the "You and Glen Beck rule!" comment!! Here I was all prepared to type out a decent comment and then I started literally "lol-ing" over here. Anyway, I think your five core values are pretty dependent on your personality. I'd highly suggest that people should take a Meyers' Briggs or Jung personality test and really do some self-discovery with this. I know we're a self-centered culture as it is, but you can't make the world a better place without starting with yourself, ya know? Kudos and great post.
LimeLiberator said…
David Bach is very sensible. I can't imagine how many people would develop a severe case of the vapors if they knew their "latte factor." :)

Seriously, though, apathy seems to be the drug of choice to block out the various disappointments in life. Shopping has become the only way to feel some emotion without the smallest chance of emotional risk. Unfortunately, they only discover later what that new phone or handbag costs, not just in financial terms but in emotional as well.

I'm glad that you started this blog. It's refreshing to see someone doing the right thing without it being a contractual clause..

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