When attempting to figure out how to align with your values, one of the first questions you can ask yourself is – how often do your choices reflect your hopes rather than your fears?
It seems almost impossible to live from hope rather than fear these days. News, social media, etc. thrive on keeping viewership and involvement by cultivating fear.
But if you slow down long enough to consider that you have but one life to live, doesn’t it make sense to live your best life? (The answer is yes.) So how do you go about doing this?
Find Your Tribe
Many of us feel alone and isolated, especially since the pandemic. We may shrink back from speaking our minds or expressing our opinions when around others who disagree. We’re concerned we’ll be lonely and misunderstood.
While the internet and social media have certainly been a bane to our civilization, it HAS done wonders for helping us find other like-minded folks who share our values. We may start feeling more comfortable when pushing against popular opinion. And at this point, we begin to see how we’ve been living in opposition to our values. Yet, just simply embracing your true values can still be difficult – especially if you’re not able to articulate what they are.
You’re not alone.
Discovering Your True Values
Many of us have an uneasy feeling that we’re not living by our values. Figuring out what those are requires some self-reflection and self-discovery. And yes, that means work. It’s worthwhile work though. And it will pay off.
You may want to start by sitting down with pen and paper and start jotting down the basics. Most of us value the big picture things like physical and mental health, our friends, and our families. Dig deeper.
Consider some of these questions:
- What are you doing when you’re at your best?
- Do you value open-mindedness? Learning? Pursuing knowledge?
- Which qualities would you like to bring to situations?
- Would people consider you honest? Compassionate? Kind?
If those seem a little too specific, consider what things you think you can’t live without. Or, and we don’t mean to be morose here, if you had two months to live, how would you spend your time? What would you like people to say at your funeral?
No need to inundate yourself. Start by focusing on two values that resonate with you the most. Then move to the next step.
How Can You Fold These Values Into Your Life?
This is where focusing on two values allows you to realistically integrate them into how you live.
So if you chose your health as a main focus, for instance, you can begin to spend some time each day fact-checking for compromises or contradictions you’ve made throughout the day. If you’re spending two hours on social media every day and feeling drained, perhaps you spend an hour doing a workout on YouTube instead. Or if you oversleep every morning and then find yourself rushing around and grabbing a quick junk food breakfast to get to work on time, perhaps get up even ten minutes earlier.
Starting with these little changes will lead to bigger changes. Eventually, you may take the stairs rather than the elevator, park farther away in every parking lot, or even join a gym. Or perhaps you start by skipping a couple of desserts per week, switch out a couple of restaurant lunches per week for healthy foods you bring in, and then even carve out time to shop for and cook healthier food.
Employing the assistance of a life coach during this time can be hugely beneficial at this point to help keep you on track and give you positive feedback.
Here’s the deal.
Once you start evaluating your habits and see how often they contradict your values, it can be humbling. You may judge and treat yourself harshly when you fall short. This is normal. Be aware of the negative feelings that emerge and work on self-compassion.
Start by labeling the feelings as fear, discomfort, sadness, or guilt. It’s important to understand that if a situation or choice feels wrong, then it probably is. This can be confusing when two choices feel equally valid.
For example, you may choose to stay home to raise your kids while others may want to work. One is not right or wrong. But one is right for you. Because at the end of the day, the world needs all sorts of people. If we all did the same thing the same way every time, imagine how boring the world would be.
Changes Eventually Become Habits
Clearly, taking these actions and turning them into habits is one of the most challenging parts of coming into alignment with our values. But it’s also the most rewarding.
Just remember that it’s easy to stay motivated at the beginning and it’s normal for that initial enthusiasm to fade. Sometimes the changes will feel awkward at first. It could take a couple of months or more before the behavior feels automatic. It’ll depend on several factors. So allow yourself time to adjust.
Eventually you’ll realize how these changes connected with your values can extend to other parts of your life without as much effort. They’ll just feel natural. And that’s exciting!
Need Assistance to Align With Your Values?
To align with your values in a world that will try to dissuade you from doing so takes courage. But you’ve got this.
We all perform at our best when our thoughts, emotions, goals, feelings, and values are in alignment. And it’s never too late to get started.
Contact us today to work with a life coach who can help you start your journey and be accountable to you as you continue on your path. You’ll be amazed at how great it eventually feels to do what makes you happy without needing validation. It will become your new normal.