We all want to lead happy and fulfilled lives, but most of us have no idea which path will lead us to that feeling of happiness and fulfilment. So we find ourselves saying yes to EVERYTHING in case that might be THE thing. The one that takes us down that path.
This method of decision making (saying ‘Yes’ to everything) seldom leads to fulfilment, but it’s almost guaranteed to lead to over-commitment and a sense of overwhelm.
So what is the antidote?
Well you can start with identifying your core values.
This is a guest post from Kirri White at Kirri White Coaching. It is the first in a series of posts I will be running on the concept of using our values to drive our decision making. Kirri kicks things off by helping us to identify what our values actually are.
When you know your core values, making sound decisions and taking action become a whole lot easier.
- Should you accept a high-paying, yet repetitive task-based job? The answer is probably ‘No’ if you hold the core values of creativity and freedom. (And probably ‘Yes’ if you value routine and self-reliance.)
- You probably shouldn’t accept an invitation to get involved on the school committee if you’re someone who values autonomy. (Unless you’re someone who also values frustration.)
- If you value working in a high-energy environment with a large group of colleagues, then perhaps you are not going to thrive in a solo home based position.
Top tips and tools for identifying your values:
- Understand there are no right or wrong values. Don’t go shopping for values thinking ‘that one looks good’ or ‘I should value family above all else, because I am a parent.’ Whatever you choose is perfect and if you feel unsure – trust your gut. When figuring out your core values – remind yourself that we all have dozens of values so don’t try to narrow things down too much.
- If you find yourself thinking ‘it would be a lot easier to identify my values if I didn’t have to worry about money’ then imagine you have a money tree growing in the back yard. Now that money is no longer an issue, what does ‘success’ look like? Is it volunteering time at an orphanage? Is it lying on a Mediterranean beach? Is it the ability to be home for your kids? Tapping into the individual elements of your ‘success’ definition will help you will find your values (and again, remember there are no right or wrong values).
- Think about a moment in your life that was particularly rewarding. A stand out experience, where you felt moved, powerful and alive. Maybe you had just given a speech on a topic you are highly passionate about and came away feeling supported, invigorated and important. Perhaps you were enjoying an idyllic holiday, lying on the beach with your partner, and you gloried in the shared intimacy of the moment. Write down the words that best describe how you were feeling at that time? What were you doing? Where were you? Who were you with? What made it such a peak experience? Allow the words to come in a few paragraphs and try not to filter too much. Go deeper and extract all the words that hold the most significance to you. These indicate your values.
- Don’t rush this process of uncovering your values. It is some of the most powerful work you can do and it can be tricky. (This is one reason people hire life coaches!) Give yourself at least an hour to go through the above and once you have your words, leave them and come back to them in a couple of days.Check whether they still resonate or if they need some more tweaking. For example – is it adventure that you value, or is it fun? Is it friendship or connection? Choose the words that truly speak to you.
Understanding and embracing our values afford us valuable insight into how we are currently living our lives and whether that is congruent with what is truly going to fulfill us.
When you are feeling at your most vital and alive, you can be assured you are living in congruence with your values. When you are feeling flat, annoyed, or trampled on; it’s likely that you are not.
Ultimately, understanding your values helps you make choices, goals and decisions that are most likely to bring you personal success and happiness.
Do you know what your core values are? Have you had any success in using them to drive big life decisions?
Let us know in the comments