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What are core values?
Personal (or core) values represent what is important to us and drive our behaviours. Consciously or not, we make decisions based on our values all the time. They determine what we pay attention to, and how we spend our time and energy.
Understanding your personal values means connecting with yourself. We may use the same words or phrases to describe our values. But the meaning will be unique to each of us. As such, our values form part of our identity: We ARE what we value.
Were we always in tune with our values?
Not at all. Individually, we only really started to learn about and become more aware of our values in the past 10-15 years.
Before we married in 2014, we documented our values individually and as a couple. We wanted to make sure that we were on the same page before we got hitched – to make sure that our (second) marriage would last. We even signed our commitment statement at our wedding, and we have since reviewed our personal values a few times to ensure they still hold true.
What are our common core values?
We are two different people, with unique identities, and thus our individual core values are not the same. Though there is overlap, which we call our common core values. And what is important to us individually, as a couple and as a business is all closely linked: It would be difficult for us to act one way in our personal lives and completely different when it comes to our business.
Values alignment (or the lack thereof) was one of the reasons why we left our corporate careers. It is also one of the reasons why we are very selective about whom we work with these days. How we live our lives (post-corporate) is aligned with our personal values: We live our values.
So, what exactly are our five common core values?
One of the reasons why we decided to become location-independent is the opportunities this lifestyle gives us to learn about things we care about and are interested in: other countries, people, cultures, languages, history and nature.
We research a lot. And we walk around with our eyes wide open and ask questions.
We are drawn to new opportunities to develop and grow, and we love giving support and guidance to others.
As we learn more about the world, we also learn and see more about what is wrong with it and how we (human beings) are part of the problem. Conserving the resources of our planet is a high priority for us, and we are conscious of our impact on the world. We constantly monitor our behaviours to make sure we buy and consume products that have as low an environmental footprint as possible and have been produced in an ethical way.
We have both experienced significant financial uncertainty earlier in our lives. While we are financially independent now – thanks to our own hard work, frugal mindset and a bit of luck – we could lose our independence easily if we didn’t maintain a budget, didn’t track our spending or didn’t invest our funds wisely.
Financial independence gives us peace of mind and the freedom to choose who we work with and what projects we dedicate our time and energy to. Managing our finances is therefore as essential to our life as eating, sleeping or brushing our teeth.
Strong moral standards and being true to ourselves and our principles shape our decisions and how we live our lives.
As bloggers, we are regularly approached for collaboration opportunities. If we had accepted all offers presented over the past five years we could have lived off our blog income by now. But we didn’t. Why? Because, we choose carefully who we work with and what we support, and we make sure that whoever and whatever it is aligns with our values. If that means foregoing income, so be it.
Likewise, we are honest in our dealings with others: if something isn’t right we let them know (politely and constructively). Our opinion can’t be bought.
We both had to overcome adversities in our lives, and while our demons will never fully go away, we manage them as best we can – each in our own way: through regular exercising, meditation and mindfulness or quality time with close friends.
We also watch what we eat, aiming for a balanced and healthy diet, without being overly strict.