Part two of this three part blog series covers another important topic: values. Your values are the principles or standards you live your life by. They should play an integral role in determining what is important to you and what decisions to make when faced with difficult life choices. When your actions are aligned with your values, life is generally pretty good. Overall, you are a much happier and content person. When your actions and behaviors get out of whack with your core values, things can go wrong. Unhappiness is usually the result of your actions not reflecting your core values. Being able to identify your values and having the inner fortitude to live them out are crucial to being happy. Having a firm understanding of your values will allow you to confidently answer life’s tough questions.
Identifying your values can be a difficult thing. How many of you actually know what your core values are? We all have a general sense of what is right and what is wrong but your decisions need to be guided by more than a general understanding of good and bad. What I consider to be a core value may be different than what you believe in. These slight differences can lead to different outcomes in a given situation and can lead to happiness for one person, or distress for another. To identify your values you really need to dive into the nitty-gritty of what makes you tick. Think back to different times in life when you have had to make a difficult decision and figure out what about those decisions made you the happiest, most proud, and most fulfilled. Be totally honest and transparent with yourself. Self reflection can be uncomfortable but it is important to get to the root of what makes you unique.
Once you have established the nuts and bolts of what makes you tick, there is another major step: You must articulate your values as verbs, not nouns. Saying that you are trustworthy is great, but it is not actionable. If instead you say you are someone others can rely on as honest and truthful, you have taken a word and given it a life of its own. Turning your values into a set of action statements makes them much richer and provides more context. It helps you truly understand what is at the root of who you are and what you believe in. Action statements allow you to apply your values to any situation with more conviction and it gives you a better understanding of why you feel a certain way. One of my core values is to practice what I preach. I want everyone to live a long, healthy life and as a strength coach and trainer, I preach it all day long so I better practice it. I have days when I do not want to train and I fall off the diet wagon but I do my best to get back up and try again because it is something I truly believe in. I can’t just say “don’t be a hypocrite”- instead, practice what you preach.
Here is my challenge to you: take some time, sit down and really think about what it is you hold dear to your heart. What do you really believe in? Don’t come up with the Miss Universe answer, but be completely honest and transparent with yourself. Once you have done this, make your core values actionable. Take the time to write them down somewhere. Put them down on paper, tell your spouse or loved ones, tell me if you want to, I would love to hear about your journey on this one. I hope you find this useful and as always, if I can help you in any way please do not hesitate to ask!