When you’re in a transition, you often feel like you don’t know who you are any more. But, your values can turn that into an opportunity to find your true, authentic self.
Undoubtedly, it is different from the person you thought you were. And, let me assure you, when you find your true, authentic self, it will undoubtedly be a more incredible version of yourself than you ever thought possible.
Finding your authentic self starts with understanding your values—the core beliefs that guide your behavior. They are your personal code of conduct, characteristic traits you believe are an integral part of your personal and professional life.
When you determine your guiding principles, life decisions become much easier.
For example, say you’re trying to decide whether to take a new position where you’ll need to work 50 or 60 hours every week and travel a lot. If you place a high value on spending time with your family, that’s clearly not your best option. You’ll say, “Pass” before you make the mistake of signing away your family time and living with regret.
If you think politicians are evil and you’re considering a job as a legislative aide, it’s probably not a good fit. But if you love helping your parents at tax time and an opportunity to help local senior citizens open up at the local H&R Block, you might pursue it.
If you’re nearing retirement or recently retired, you’ll need to understand your values so you can design your next chapter with them as the foundation.
Values will help you through transitions, difficult times or even a full-blown crisis.
When the shit hits the fan, staying true to your core beliefs will keep you focused rather than stuck in panic and survival mode. When they are clear, they act as a guide and a steadying hand, keeping you on track. When you’re clear on them, you’re more likely to act in ways that serve your highest good.
When you’re living in alignment with your values, you feel more positive about yourself, the decisions you make, and your life in general.
Your values are a part of you, whether you’ve articulated them or not, but they may evolve over time. If you are working 60 hours a week with little emotional or physical energy left for your family, you’re most likely stressed out and frustrated. What may have worked before you had a family no longer serves you. Now it’s time for a change.
When you know your values and can pivot when events in your life change, you will be able to make decisions quickly and easily. You’ll start designing a life that provides the balance you’re looking for and, when opportunity comes your way, you’ll be absolutely sure about the decisions you make.
So how do you uncover those core beliefs that are truly important to you? One way is to reflect on events that have happened in your life (personal and professional) and consider the underlying character trait that may have caused the reaction, feeling, or emotion.
Maybe a coworker violated a policy or code of ethics. If one of your values is integrity, you will most likely have little tolerance for others who are unethical or dishonest or who don’t follow the rules. And you certainly wouldn’t want to spend time in a work or volunteer environment where you are surrounded by them!
A cool trick to get to the root of it is to use an action verb instead of writing it down as a noun. For example, the word integrity may mean different things to different people. But when you say, “Always do the right thing,” you’ve made the definition crystal clear.
One of my standards is to be an inspiration for others. In my current life chapter, I have found new and exciting ways to inspire others to live their best lives because I designed it that way.
Another is to live my life with passion and purpose. To weave that into my new chapter meant digging into my likes, dislikes, and strengths. Once I had a clear idea of what would help me live a more positive life, I focused on that and left the negative behind. See how this all fits together?
I’m also at my best when I am balanced and grounded in my truth. Being grounded means believing I’m good enough, having confidence in my abilities, knowing I’ll be fine no matter what happens, and pursuing a meaningful, purposeful direction for my life.
Now think about some of your negative memorable experiences. What happened? Which of your values may have been violated?
I treasure having meaningful relationships. In our fast-paced world, we sometimes forget to pause and spend time with those we love: our families, friends, and even our pets.
Nurturing those relationships is vital, but I haven’t always done my best. Now that my parents are gone, I wish I had spent more time visiting them (even though we lived on different coasts). And I regret the times I felt I was too busy to go for a walk on the beach with family members (human or canine). I’d love to rewrite all that history.
But you can’t rewrite history, can you? You can, however, stay true to your core beliefs so you have no regrets moving forward. Want more transition tips? Follow me on Instagram @christinelstallard, join my private Facebook group Amazing Women Living by Design or get on the waitlist for my Next Chapter Plan™ Academy (doors open soon).