Lasting motivation and focus are more easily accomplished when our intentions and actions are aligned to our values. To what matters. When we’re living our life and making choices aligned with our unique values, we feel fulfilled. Complete. As if everything is in sync. We’re content, energized and ready for what’s next.
When making choices that don’t align with our values, we feel depleted. Our energy is low. We may feel frustrated, anxious or as if we’re swimming against the tide yet not know why. The fact is, we are literally going against the tide. The friction of brushing up against our values from a different direction than the natural flow of alignment slows us down and makes us tired. When in alignment, the opposite is true. We feel ease and energy. We’re in flow.
“What do I want?” can feel like a very challenging question. To find the answer ask yourself the question “what do I want” over and over again until you feel the resonance of the right answer for you. A short cut to getting to this answer is to consider your values. They’re like a barometer for knowing. Values provide direction and are aspirational. The more aware you are of your values, and the more you practice using them in decision making, the quicker and easier you’ll be able to make the best choices for you in the moment because you’ll be familiar with the feelings of being in or out of alignment. You’ll know what you want.
You’ll also become aware of the words you’re using. Should, could and ought to are signals to check in with your values because when in alignment, these words are not present. Instead you’ll find yourself using words like I will, I am and I can with a grounded certainty. And ultimately, I did!
While honouring our values is inherently fulfilling, it’s not always easy. Caring for a very ill or dying friend or family member may be important to you however being in the experience may not feel so good at the moment. Staying true to what matters sometimes requires making difficult choices or taking on a big challenge even when afraid. Choices such as finding a new job, moving to a new city or signing up for a marathon. When you decide based on your values, you be fuelled by the inner conviction and knowing that you can figure it out. That you have what it takes to deal with whatever comes up in the process of going after what you want. You’ll have direct access to your ‘more-in-me’.
Exercising, being active, moving more are often linked to should’s, could’s, and ought to’s which derail us before we even get started. We feel guilt, pressure and depleted energy as a result.
Instead, consider, what’s important to you about movement? Exercise? Being active? Why does it matter? How does it relate to what you want for yourself? Your family? Your business? Your life overall?
Here’s an illustration of how my values play out in my choices around movement. And running in particular.
Last spring we were visiting my partner’s family in Montreal for the weekend. As soon as I knew the family agenda and where we were staying, I searched online and discovered a 10k race on Saturday morning very near our hotel that did not interfere with our plans. I signed up! My habit of signing up for races when travelling has grown from the fulfillment I experience running races in different places. My values that I honoured by running that race are listed below. Believe it or not, I thought about this during the race and made these notes immediately afterward.
You might be thinking I made up all the above for the sake of this article. I’ve been paying attention to my values for close to 20 years. They have become powerful influencers in my decision making, sometimes with conscious awareness and sometimes through habit because I’ve internalized the benefits to me of making choices that align with my values. If you scan my blog posts, you’ll see many of the themes above throughout what I write. The More-In-Me MOVEment grew out of my value of engaging in life as an ongoing discovery of what’s possible – of finding more-in-me and wanting to share what I’ve learned with you because I believe we all have more. We have what it takes. Our values help us in this discovery.
Values are the qualities of a life lived fully from the inside out based on what matters. When we honour our values we feel alignment inside – an internal ‘rightness’ or resonance. When we are not living our values, there is dissonance. Values are not morals and are not about moral character or ethical behaviour. Living an ethical life might be something you value however.
Changing our lifestyle is a dance of taking action and choosing our attitude. Sometimes the body can lead the mind. Getting moving and becoming more active influences our choices in multiple areas of our lives. Other times our mind leads the way. Our mind can be a powerful ally for making commitments that matter. Aligning with our values.
What are your values? What makes you feel fulfilled? What lights you up? When do you feel able to endure and do whatever it takes? You’ll discover your values in the answers to these questions.
And let us know in the comments, how your values have influenced your choices. What impact did they have?