I just returned from attending a personal development workshop last week on a cruise ship. I know, I know….how hard can it be to expand your mind sailing through the Caribbean, right? Anyway, during the workshop we were asked to create a personal vision statement. As part of the process and to help us gain clarity on our values, we completed an exercise where we reviewed a list of approximately 150 traits, characteristics, skills and values. We were asked to circle any words that seemed to resonate with us. Once that was done, we narrowed that list down to our ten most important words, and then again pared the list down to just four words. Those four words represented, for that moment in time, our most important values.
Our assignment that evening was to reflect on our vision statement and the work we were doing in the world and to see if it was in alignment with our most important values. For example, the four values I selected in the end were honesty, integrity, courage and to contribute. Not surprising to me as I have done exercises similar to this several times over the last couple of years and these values have consistently turned up in some form or fashion as being important to me. I am happy to say that when I look at the work I am currently doing, I believe it is in perfect alignment with these values. But that has not always been the case.
There was certainly a time in my life when my work was not supporting my values and it left me feeling like something was missing. At the time, it was hard for me to explain why I was so unfulfilled, but I absolutely knew something was wrong. I believed down to my core that I was capable of doing more, that I had untapped potential. While my work did meet many of my immediate needs, like my financial ones, I could tell there was still a disconnect somewhere and I felt it almost every day. Maybe the best way to describe it was that I felt like I was settling for less, and while I knew I wanted more, I had no idea how to go about getting it.
If you feel that your work may be out of alignment with your current core values, there is no need to panic. Just being aware of the issue is the best place to start. Begin by identifying your current core values. If you would like to complete a values exercise like the one I described, you can find a list of values with complete instructions on how to complete the exercise on the resource page of my website at www.pinnaclecoachinggroup.com/Resources.html .
Once you’ve identified your current core values, look to see where the work you are doing supports or disconnects from these values. Where there are disconnects, ask yourself these questions:
- Is there a change I could make today that would bring my current work into better alignment with my values?
- If I am not able to make a change in my work immediately, are there an actions I can take now that will prepare me for a bigger change in the future, allowing me to move into better alignment in the long term?
- What fears or obstacles are preventing me from making a change today?
- Is there a way to align with my values in my personal life that would help to feed my soul and make my overall life more fulfilling? (For example; if one of your core values is “to create”, can you honor this value in your personal life by taking an art class or building furniture in your spare time?)
Remember, your four values may change over time depending on where you are in your life. This is just a snapshot of where you are today. There are no “right” or “wrong” answers here. Use this exercise to help bring awareness to what is important to you and to identify ways that you can help to enrich your work and your life.
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