Imagine driving nonstop but never knowing your destination.
Fear and disappointment speak to you from the backseat (i.e. your head). “Stop”! “Turn back” “You’ll never make it”, they shout.
As you feel the pressure to abandon your route, you take your foot off the accelerator and begin to brake.
You’re at a dead stop on the side of the road and gripping the wheel with no clear direction.
“What now?” say the voices. “Are we just going to sit here”?
I can feel my energy draining as I write this scenario. I’ve been there and you’ve probably been there too.
It’s an exhausting pattern that can play it’s self out repeatedly in your life.
Give yourself a great gift. Take time to learn what’s important to you, what you value.
When you identify your values you will develop clarity and a deep awareness that gives your life direction and meaning. Values fine-tune your goals and fuel your motivation. They get you where you want to go. To what matters most in your life!
DRIVING THE STRUGGLE BUS
It’s not unusual to struggle with creating and achieving goals. There are lots of things to consider in the process and it can leave you feeling overwhelmed and cynical.
This is especially true if you develop a habit of ditching your goals before you experience any positive outcomes. Unmet goals can leave you feeling deflated, crushed or worse.
Unhelpful thoughts and feelings can roll in filling you with doubt. These can cause you to do things that move you further away from what you want. For instance, you might overthink the situation to the point that it paralyzes future decisions and actions. You might develop a perfectionist attitude about setting and achieving future goals. Or you might be persuaded by negative self-talk that causes you to give up altogether.
Clearly identifying your values BEFORE developing a goal can be a game-changer.
That’s because values represent what’s important to you, what you stand for and who you want to be in life.
Values point you in your intended direction while your goals are just achievements along your route.
You can read more about values here in my previous article.
SWITCH OFF AUTOPILOT
When you focus on defining your values the clarity and awareness you develop begin to guide your actions. This practice fine-tunes choices, decisions and intentions that you act on every day. You begin to make conscious choices that steer you toward your values versus being dragged in all directions by life’s moments.
In other words, you’re no longer navigating life on autopilot. Instead, you’re living meaningfully in contact with the present. This can supercharge your motivation, especially when things get tough.
SWITCH ON CHOICE AND FREEDOM
There is a liberation that you experience when living a value-driven life. YOU are in the driver’s seat steering in YOUR chosen direction. YOU choose and set boundaries that are in service of YOUR values. No more living by chance hoping things will work out.
Even while you head in your value-driven direction, you’re free to adjust and experiment with your goals along the way. That’s because your valued direction is beyond any specific goal you set.
And over time you’re free to change your values as your life evolves. No value is etched in stone. Try one on, experiment with it and then decide.
You have the flexibility, freedom, and choice to express values in different ways. Take the values of kindness and honesty for example. These can be conveyed in various ways with family, at work or socially.
Because values are not rules to be followed or constraints you use them as a guide. You can exercise the freedom to choose, at the moment, what action you want to take in service of your values.
REVEAL YOUR VALUES
The actions generated through goals produce concrete tangible outcomes. These outcomes show evidence of your valued direction over time and they reveal your values to you and others.
Outcomes like increased enjoyment, improved mobility, weight loss, loving relationships, special recognition in your job, enduring calm and peace, acts of kindness, greater fitness performance, etc.
At times moving toward your values requires a leap of faith. Take changing careers for example. You may need to orient yourself toward your valued direction and choose a goal just on its horizon. This can be a small but progressive move to help you get your bearings as you navigate toward what you value.
Being disconnected from your values can leave you feeling like a drifter on life’s road and feeling empty.
Stay focused on your values and moving toward what you want. Revisit the values related to your goals often to super-charge your motivation.
By staying focused you will see choices and take actions you might otherwise miss.
Give yourself a great gift and take the time to learn about what’s important to you, what you value.
It’s a creative and constructive process that involves thinking of life as a work in progress!
IDENTIFY YOUR VALUES – AN EXERCISE
Living a value-driven life is all about creating goals that serve your values not someone else’s values or that serve no value at all.
Below is an informal exercise to identify your values. For more intensive work around identifying your values and creating specific goals, contact me here.
Some Informal Considerations For Identifying Your Values: Click on the list of common values provided as you follow the guide below. Sample Values List
- Pick one important area you would like to explore first (i.e. health, family, career, relationship, etc.). I don’t recommend doing them all at once.
- What specific values do you associate with the particular area of your life selected? Pick 1 to 4 of your top values for this particular area.
- Some of your values may overlap in areas of life, such as living the values of honesty or kindness.
- Certain other values may be specific to only one area of life. For instance, if your career is in accounting, an accuracy value may only relate to your work.
- Reflect on the following:
- What about these selected values are important to you?
- How close are you to living the selected values currently? Right on target, somewhat on target, or not at all on target.
- How will living these selected values make a difference in your life?
Once you identify your values, you can begin to create goals that support actions for living in service of them.
Life changes, therefore, you will review, reevaluate, monitor, and adjust your goals and values throughout your life. Whatever direction you choose, this process can help you navigate your way toward rather than away from those things you value most.
Values help define who you want to be in each moment of the day and they give meaning to your life.
Identifying your values allows you to make choices to experience your day in a richer, more conscious and intentional way.
Values help you decide, during each metaphorical fork in the road, who you want to be and what you want your life to be about.
And now back to you…
How do you define your values as they relate to specific areas of your life?
What actions are taking you in a direction you value?
How are your current goals connected to your values?
If you’d like to read more on this topic, see Living a Value-Driven Life – Part 1
Wishing you Wellward! Linda