I believe any goal we ever strive to achieve has a common ground: To make us feel good about ourselves or something that is intrinsically important to us. Essentially, they enhance our lives.
But when we feel off-center, angry or frustrated, it could mean that one or more of our values or goals are not being honored, either by ourselves or by someone else. In my opinion, each one of us has a unique set of values that have to be in place in order to feel fulfilled, and when one of these values is out of alignment, we must go deeper to explore what exactly is off balance. Therefore, it’s critical to know yourself and your values in order to gain an understanding of what drives you and what influences your subconscious decision making. I believe when what we do on a daily basis and who we are surrounded by is in alignment with who we are, we can lead a happy life.
In my experience as a leadership coach, I've found that when leaders and entrepreneurs gain this deeper awareness, they are enabled to make choices that bring them closer to their goals and ultimate fulfillment. Knowing your values can be beneficial in a variety of ways as a leader, as I've found they have the potential to impact the decisions you make and your personal goals.
Working at a job you resent, performing tasks you don’t care about and going against your values sets you up for frustration and stress. I have seen way too many professionals who are unsatisfied in their careers, which ultimately steals their energy and joy from other areas of their lives. They're left feeling unsatisfied and conflicted.
Through working with clients, I've developed three steps to help you realign yourself with your values:
1. Know yourself, your values and what’s important to you. Get clear on your foundational non-negotiables and what’s actually meaningful to you so you don’t run after the wrong goal. I believe the clearer you can get, the better choices you can make that help you create a life with which you feel aligned. For example, if self-care and a good work-life balance are more important to you than material things, working a high-paying, 80 hour-a-week-job that leads to burnout will never make you truly happy.
To get a better grasp on who you are, think about a peak experience or a time in your life when everything was going well. What was happening at that moment that helped capture you at your best? Think about the values you were honoring and the strength you were accessing at the time.
Another way to look at this is to consider what makes you angry or irritable. Think about something that upsets you, and ask yourself, "What's the deeper meaning of why this bothers me?" For instance, if you find that you get angry when coworkers dismiss your input in meetings, you might realize you greatly value respect. Think about what you must have in life above and beyond your basic needs to be happy. I believe this will help you understand who you are and what matters most to you.
2. Check in with yourself and recognize the values you have been ignoring. After exploring your foundational needs and wants, get clear on what and why something is off balance. How did you get yourself in a situation in which you feel frustrated? Did you previously make a decision that doesn’t honor your values, and you’re now living with the result? Ask yourself what needs to shift and what you can do to honor your values, then align your actions and circumstances appropriately.
3. Take action, reset and realign yourself with what’s most important to you. Honor the values that must be in place in order for life to be fulfilling. Have that important conversation, make that big decision, set boundaries and make yourself a priority again. Take a stand for yourself, create a better work-life balance and get back in touch with yourself.
One way to discover whether you are honoring the values that matter most to you is to take inventory of what you are saying "yes" to and what you are saying "no" to. If you are saying "yes" to working all weekend, though you know you need time to rest and recharge, you are essentially saying "no" to the value of self-care and a work-life balance. Oppositely, if you say "no" to working this weekend, you can say "yes" to making yourself a priority. I have found this to be a very powerful exercise that can help you become more aware of what needs realignment in your life.
Your unique values are the true guidelines that help you live a life of fulfillment and happiness. In my experience, understanding what matters to you most can help you make decisions from a place of clarity and alignment. I believe values are the key to less internal conflict and creating more balance with ease, and when you are living in a place of true alignment, life feels effortless and filled with possibilities.