By Sabrina Roblin
To design your next chapter of life as one that is fulfilling, a key is to identify and then live into your values. So, what does that really mean? The Oxford English Dictionary describes values as “principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgement of what is important in life”. If life purpose is the keel of your boat, then values are the North Star that guides your choices. They are a definition of who you are in your life, and a way of being or believing that you hold as most important. Examples include accountability, faith, family, freedom, health, integrity, travel, and well-being. When you live into your values you are energized and look forward to getting up in the morning and meeting the day. Living a life that is contrary to your values can lead to burn out, frustration, resentment, disappointment, and even depression.
The first step to living into your values is naming them. One of the easiest ways to find and name your values is to remember the best day or phase of your life, then describe it in writing in detail. You’ll find your values in the description of why it felt so good. It could be you were with your child (value of family), or that you were skiing down a mountain (values of freedom, health and well-being), or that you managed a particularly successful phase of your company (values of excellence, contribution or collaboration). After you have a list of them – there could be 10 or more – circle the top three to five. Then create a design for your next chapter that honors your list of values, making sure those three to five top values are at the center of your design. For example, if your top value is travel/adventure, you aren’t going to be happy working behind a desk in your office day after day. You’ll want to design a next chapter that has you traveling as part of your work and/or pleasure. If family is your top value, you’ll want to design a life that has you close to home with a lot of family time.
Once you’ve named your values, take stock of how you are or aren’t honoring them. It’s only by being honest with ourselves about where we are that we can make changes to close the gap on what we want. Here are a few questions that will help you with your values work:
- Which of my behaviors support my value(s)?
- How do I know when I’m living into my values? How does it feel?
- Who in my life supports my efforts to live into my values?
Whatever your current situation – whether you already have a life you love and yet circumstances dictate that you have to move on, or you have a life you can’t wait to change because it doesn’t honor your values – being clear about your values and living into them will guide you in both good times and bad. They will help you make choices at each cross-road and decision point along your journey.