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We now live in a transparent world. Our personal and professional stories reside on the internet and will remain there in perpetuity. Our resumes, our profiles, our photos, videos, testimonials will endure long after our lifetime.

It seems that everyone knows everything about you. But how well do you know yourself? Are you living an authentic life?

We all have core values that define the essence of who we are. Quite simply, mine are based on the importance I place on my family and friends and living an active, healthy lifestyle. Other important values are integrity, respect, good work ethic. Once I define my core values, I can ask myself how well does my life align with these values? For, in fact, to live an authentic life, I should make my decisions based on these values.

By example, I may have a choice to go kayaking with friends or stay at home and eat a big bowl of ice cream (mmmmm!) The choice that best aligns with my personal core values is kayaking with friends. If I choose to eat the ice cream instead, it would not align with the value I place on living an active healthy lifestyle. I might enjoy the ice cream, but probably wouldn’t feel very good about myself afterwards. That decision would not be in alignment with my core values; the essence of who I am.

Another example may be that you are asked to take a long business trip for your company and as a result, you will miss an important family event. You agree to go on the trip, but don’t feel good about yourself because you value your family more. (We are always faced with these types of decisions and in fact, we don’t always feel we have a choice).

The point is that in order to live an authentic life,  our core values should drive all our actions and decisions. When our decisions are in alignment with these values, we are living an authentic life and feel good about ourselves.

So how do you stay on track? The first step is to identify your core values and write them down. When you are faced with tough decisions (this is unavoidable as we face them everyday), look at your list of values. Understand that you will feel the best about yourself when your decision aligns with your values. Understand also, that you may not always feel you can make the choice that is best aligned with your values. When this occurs, we are making sacrifices and don’t always feel good about ourselves as a result.

Your core values are not only the foundation of who you are, but also your best road map to living an authentic life; a life in which you feel great about yourself and your decisions.