I'm a recovering perfectionist. I used to spent most of my time religiously ensuring that everything I said and did matched some fantasy expectation of what the "ideal me" should say and do.
From spending countless hours doing my hair and makeup, to crafting handmade thank you gifts for colleagues, or developing a memorized list of witty replies for any social situation, I thought being "perfect" was the way to get what I wanted in life.
But in reality, all of this role-playing kept me from identifying what I really wanted. I felt inauthentic, but also unsure of what authenticity would even mean for me.
The truth is that I was scared of what my life would be like if I really owned who I was and what I wanted.
What was true for me is true for most people: the more we turn to the outside, the further we move away from a life that is in line with our core values.
Think about it ...
- Do you value family, but pull 80-hour work weeks?
- Do you value connection but go months without chatting with your closest friends?
- Do you value collaboration but work in a highly competitive place?
If so, I relate. After all the time I spent feeling alone and unfulfilled with my life, I finally sat down and started asking tough questions like these.
Asking these questions was uncomfortable, but immeasurably productive. Recognizing the ways I was limiting my life helped me identify and explore my values. Quickly, I figured out that I valued freedom, new experiences, community and connection.
So I decided to challenge myself, and honor my values, by traveling. Since I first packed my bags four years ago, my life has blossomed. I finally began creating a life that I loved on my own terms.
Your values are the core of who you are. Whether or not you have spent time thinking about yours, we all have them. These are the markers we have that let us know if life is turning out the way we want it to.
If you take the time to know yourself — and I mean really know your values — you can make choices to shift your life so that your outer world is more in line with your inner core. If you're saying, “I already know what I value!” then that’s great. I salute you. But I also ask you this: How are they showing up in your life?
Here are some quick tips to get you aligned with your core:
1. Before making a big decision, take this value "quiz" I came up with.
- List the values that are most important to you.
- Next, ask yourself this question about your #1 value: "On a scale of 1 to 10, how well will the consequence of this decision align with this value?" Then write down the number.
- Ask the same question about each value on your list. After you've rated the perceived outcome of this decision for each of your core values, add the numbers up and find the average.
- Check out your score. The idea is to have a score of seven or higher on average. If you score below seven, you may want to think twice about moving forward. This opportunity may not align enough with your values to be considered.
2. Check in on your values daily.
I find it's best to do this right before bed. Simply ask yourself, "How well did my decisions and behavior align with value #___ today?"
This quick practice provides you with a good sense of where you are, and what you might need to work on the next day. It's a great way to keep you focused and in touch with your inner voice. Have a journal? Write a quick paragraph each night and track your journey as you start to see shifts in your life.
3. Keep your values at the foreground of your mind.
It's important to always have some visual of your value in your line of sight. This keeps them front and center in your mind. Here are some easy ways to remind yourself of your values on a regular basis:
- Create a vision board.
- Make a screen saver on your laptop or change your cellphone wallpaper to something that makes you happy.
- Design a new Pinterest board of things that make you feel alive and inspired.
- Write your values on post-its and stick 'em all over your house.
- Find a picture that represents one of your values and keep it somewhere you will see it daily.
- Make a playlist with songs represent one or more of your values and listen to it once a day as part of your morning, afternoon, or evening ritual.
Being strong and confident in your values will help you make decisions more quickly and independently. A life lined up with personal values is a well-lived, purpose-filled life.
Thoughts? I’d love to hear how you are living a life aligned with your values. Comment below!
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