Have you ever found yourself in that place where life just seems to be happening to you, where it feels as if you are on a twisted, never-ending obstacle course where you are just being thrown one challenge after another and there’s no end in sight?
I call this the ‘autopilot of survival’. When you are in it, it can be hard to see a way out (apart from those lucid moments you get after several glasses of wine or when you’ve woken at 4pm and have a rare cup of tea by yourself and you find yourself asking “surely there must be a better way?”).
When I’m working with clients who are living in the ‘autopilot of survival’, one of my go-to tools is values. Identifying values can be an incredibly powerful first step to gaining some clarity about what is really important, and for identifying the steps that will take you from just surviving to a life you are excited about living.
The process of identifying our values reminds us of who we really are. That person who resides beneath what we’ve achieved and all those things we do for others.
Unlike goals, which take us from A to B, values are like a compass. Values are the direction that you want to go in, the things that are most important to you, the person you want to be. Values cannot be ticked off your to-do list, they are brought to life through the way you show up and, in the people, and activities, you put your energy into.
When so many things are thrown at us every day and when we feel pulled from one thing to another, values can provide a place to come back to that feels true to us.
Values evolve over time, the four I am currently working with are Connection, Creativity, Wisdom and Integrity.
As an example, my value of connection is about recognising that the greatest gift I can give those I love is my attention. This reminds me that, in the moments we are together, I want to be the version of me that puts down the phone and is really present with them.
So, how do you discover your values? One of my favourite opening questions to ask clients is: “Imagine that it is your 80th birthday party and all of your friends and family are talking about how you lived your life, the kind of person you were and what was important to you. What do you hope they would stay?”
Why not take 15 minutes and have a go at answering this question using the values worksheet I have created.
First discover your values, then take action!
Values are powerless if they don’t lead to action. One of the best actions you can take is to write about your values. Setting intentions in the morning and reflecting in the evening is a great way to bring values to life.
There is some really solid research linking writing about values with feeling more in control, more connected, experiencing less rumination, and improving mental health.
So, values don’t just help you to actively create the life YOU want to live, they can support your wellbeing too. Bonus! If you’d like to work together to explore your values in more depth, then please get in touch.
This article was written by Hazel Anderson-Turner, business psychologist and ICF accredited coach (PCC).
Hazel is passionate about supporting clients to break free of thoughts and behaviours that hold them back and help them live the life they really want.
You can get in touch with Hazel at hazelandersonturner.co.uk.
December 18, 2021