How determining my values changed my life.

Values. We all have them, or at least think we know what they are, but have you really sat down to determine why you have the values that you do?

For the most part, your values don’t change. You know what you believe in and you know what makes you happy. Normally those things don’t change. They could, but not often.

Why am I even talking about this? Because I believe that determining your values can make you a better and happier person. They make sure that what you do on the outside matches up with what your heart is saying on the inside.

All we have to do is be the person we say we are

No need to shop for a better you, or to work overtime to make bigger promises. Keeping the promises we’ve already made is sufficient.  – Seth Godin

In this post I’m going to get real raw with y’all. It’s the only way I know how to be and it just helps me to shape the truth to this article. I’ve been working on determining my values for a whole year. A YEAR. I don’t know why it was SO hard for me but it was real hard. I had to take (multiple) long looks at my life and write. And write. And write some more.

In my research I have found that there are 4 main categories of values (foundational, core, minor and imaginary) and I will break each of them down for you. I’m also going to tell you what each of my values are so you can understand each category clearly.

I encourage you to take a pen and paper and use this post as a tool for a better you. Take notes as you go and be honest with yourself. For each value that you set you should be able to write a one sentence response to why it is important to you.

Think of your values as a house. You have the foundation, the walls, the decor and the useless crap that clutters your rooms. Ready? Here we go!

Foundational Values

Think of these as the concrete slab.

These values shape your “ideal life”.

These don’t change. They make you who you are and they dictate your every move. Stepping off of this concrete slab causes havoc and disarray in your life ultimately leading to disappointment and feelings of unworthiness. But when you’re on, you’re on FIIIIIYAAAA. You feel amazing and you have the ability to encourage and empower those around you.

For me, my foundational values are: health, relationships, creativity or passion, growth and contribution.

For the foundational values I will provide my sentences as to why but I will leave that here as it gets REAL personal the more we dig.

Contrary to my donut addiction, health is important to me. (That’s not my sentence but it totally could be.)

  • I will chose to be healthy to not only set a good example for son but also to feel my best to be fully present in the world around me.


  • Building and maintaining relationships allows me to available to others for whatever the Universe needs from me.

This includes relationships with people and with God. The more love you put out the more you get in return. Love people as you love yourself – the world will thank you for it, and so will you.

(Side note, If you have known me for any amount of time you know that I speak of the Universe often. To me, this means a higher power, it means God, and it means my path that God has called me to be on. The whole shebang. This can be whatever you choose whether it be happiness, kindness, God, or just the path that you feel called to be on.

Creativity or passion

  • Truly tapping into my creativity allows the best version of myself to rise to the surface allowing me to share my heart with those around me.  Creating also makes me really damn happy.

Also, as Maya Angelou states, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”


  • I have a desire to learn, when I stop learning I stop loving.

To me, growth may be my top value. I am OBSESSED with learning new things and expanding on things that I already know. If I don’t know something, I’ll look it up, I will figure it out. Personal development is an addiction to me and I am 100% ok with that. (Just don’t judge me by my library of self-help books.)


  • The more you give, the more you get. Bless and be blessed.

That’s how this world works, y’all. Don’t believe me? Pay it forward and watch something good happen to you. Don’t expect it and be all pissed off when someone doesn’t pay for your Starbucks in the drive-thru but pay it forward out of the kindness of your heart and the next time that you need something great to happen it will. I promise.

Core Values

The framing and walls. (Framing? Frame? Who knows, I’ll look it up.)

Your core values are your principles. While you may only have 3-5 foundational values you could have up to 20 core values. I have a lot. Here are my core values in no particular order as each one means the same amount to me.

  • autonomy
  • mindfulness
  • motivation
  • determination
  • self-discipline
  • open-mindedness
  • honesty
  • humility
  • competency
  • gratitude
  • goodwill
  • thankfulness
  • wonder
  • kindness
  • personal development
  • sexuality
  • respect
  • variety
  • mobility (the ability to try new places without fear – from coffee shops to cities)

Your core values also remain the same for the majority of your life. If anything, you add new ones but rarely do any disappear. Your core values are your fundamental beliefs that shape who you are as a person. They determine your difference between what is right and what is wrong.

Next up – Minor Values

The artwork on the walls.

Simply put, your minor values make life more interesting.

  • Coffee
  • Running
  • Yoga
  • Technology (my phone, this blog, etc…)

I’m sure I have a lot more but honestly, isn’t that enough? It basically sums up my life. Your minor values are things that make you happy but if you don’t have them you won’t be a crappy person. (Ok so maybe I’ll move coffee up to a core value.)

Last but not least, Imaginary Values


These are pretend values or obstacles in your life.

Let’s spend a little but of time here, shall we? This is HUGE. Imaginary values get in the way of our true values.  They force us to misprioritize our life in a way that we are allocating our time to things that we pay lip service to. Social media is a huge imaginary value. For example, if we say that relationships are one of our main values but we are constantly checking out twitter feed when we are in good company are we really molding and shaping those relationships? No. We are blocking our own values and ultimately hurting those relationships and ourselves. Put the phones down.

I have a lot of imaginary values, I won’t name them all but here are a good few:

  • wine
  • chocolate (or any dessert for that matter)
  • social media
  • scarcity (ACT NOW WHILE SUPPLIES LAST! Buying things or doing things because soon they might disappear, or so they say.  Buying things because someone said you need it. The reality is, you don’t need it and you didn’t even know it was missing from your life until someone pointed it out. Hard pass.)
  • efficiency
  • productivity

So you may wonder why I say efficiency and productivity. Thanks for wondering! I’m about to blow your mind.

For most go-getters, we strive to be both of those things but here’s the catch, if you spend all of your time trying to be efficient and productive you will end up spending time on things that don’t truly matter. Let me help you understand. One of my jobs at EPIC is to post to social media. It’s always on my to-do list. Post to the Sports Lodge, post to EPIC Coffee, post about yoga as well as responding to posts and threads. Here’s the thing, as soon as I log into social media I  inevitably wander. I’ll creep this page and that page and by the time I realize it it’s been 10 minutes. It’s not that I’m trying to fart around or not work, it’s that I get distracted by trying to be productive. You know how it goes. Another example is that you have a list of 7 things that you need to get done. There might be 3 things on that list that you NEED to get done right now but maybe it’s a lengthy task or a time consuming task so instead of doing the 3 things that you need to do you choose to do 4 tiny things instead. You justify it because hey, they need to be done, but the reality is that you just blew a whole afternoon doing things that aren’t getting you closer to your goal for the day. You’re making yourself busy just to be busy but you really aren’t accomplishing anything at all.

Make sense?! So maybe add time management to your task list.

Determining your values will significantly improve the quality of your life. They will help you to become the person that you strive to be.

If you have trouble figuring out what your values are there is a wonderful test that you can take through It’s a free test that will give you detailed results that might freak you out a bit. I took it and was really shocked with what I found. It also told me what I need to work on. You can find that test here.

This post took me forrrrever to pull together so I really hope that you all found value in it. (See what I did there?)

Read it. Soak it in. Make note. Write.

Write more.

And then write some more.

What are some of your values or obstacles? Please share! Drop a comment and let me know!

I truly love you all,

Kari Jo

P.S. I took all of these photos at Goat Hill Coffee & Soda in Westside. How adorable and picturesque is it?! Don’t worry, I asked the man if I could take his pic and he said yes and then made me send it to him. They had pretty good coffee and had me try oat milk. It was delish.

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1 thought on “How determining my values changed my life.

  1. This might be the most grown up thing I’ve read in years. The way you strive for authenticity never ceases to amaze me. Going to take that test now…

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