Living a values-aligned life
True story: I have almost become a high school teacher. TWICE. The first time was straight after I completed my BA (Hons) because, well, what else is a girl to do with a History degree? After agonising over what I wanted to ‘be’ when finished University that time round I eventually decided on a History teacher, until I later turned down the offer to go to Cambridge University to complete the necessary postgraduate studies. I questioned my capacity to have had enough life experience to be a good teacher at the ripe old age of 21.
Then later on, towards the end of my 20’s I felt strongly that it was time to leave the corporate Human Resources world, so applied and was accepted to study my postgraduate teaching qualifications at Southampton University. Except this time, I realised the more pressing need was to have children, so turned down my second chance to become a teacher.
The reason for sharing this story with you is because it illustrates something about my values, and how we can learn to live in a values-aligned way. I have always been deeply curious, and whilst back in my 20’s I wouldn’t have been able to articulate it, with hindsight I think that curiosity has always been a deeply held value of mine. This desire for personal growth, learning, literally the acquisition of knowledge has been a part of me for as long as I can remember. The upside is that I can express that curiosity in a whole range of different ways, spaces and places – teaching History (or not), personal training or counselling.
Now retrospective values alignment is easy(ish) to spot, but how do we ensure that we are living in a more values aligned way in the moment? Firstly, we need to be clear about what our core values are (if you need help on this read last week’s blog here). But to be able to put these values into some kind of tangible actions we then need to be able to define them in our own words – what I mean by ‘curiosity’ will probably be different to you.
From a foundation of clearly defined core values, we can then do something like an audit of the different parts of our lives to see how things are stacking up. Looking at:
- Social relationships
- Work / career
- Health and wellbeing
- Money / spending
- (insert your own)
Ask yourself these two questions of each life area:
- How aligned am I living? (0-100%)
- If I am not aligned, why not? (What am I doing that I could be doing? What do I need to stop doing / start doing?)
Every single day we are faced with countless opportunities where we have a chance to make decisions (however small) that can take us towards living in a more values aligned way. Oftentimes it’s the cumulative effect of these small choices that help shift our alignment and help us live a more rich and fulfilling life.