Every decision ultimately comes to down your values.
The most persistent theme that I have learned throughout my life thus far is that every decision ultimately comes down to our values. And we suffer or thrive to the degree that we have identified and live by our values.
If you find yourself constantly second-guessing yourself, living in your head, and being uncertain about what path to take in your life, it might be high time you sat down and had a serious chat with yourself about what your values are.
So, to cut right to the chase, the three steps to a life of genuine fulfillment are as follows.
- Identify your personal values.
- Go after what you want.
- Say no to things that interfere and continue to prioritize your values.
Let's break this down further, shall we?
1. Identify your personal values.
How do you go about identifying your personal values?
If you aren't sure what your values are, try keeping a journal with you for a week and write down all of the times that you notice your heart being especially full during certain activities, as well as other activities where you feel especially hurt or drained.
Then, compile the data and ask yourself "Why?" Why do I hurt here, and why do I feel such deep joy here? The answers will lead you to your core personal values.
2. Go after what you want.
Insights are one thing, actions are another. Once you have identified what it is that deeply matters to you, it is simply a matter of consistently taking decisive action in the direction of your goals.
3. Say no to things that interfere and continue to prioritize your values.
This point comes down to boundary-setting. Say yes to what you want, say no to what you don't want.
Will you be able to be perfect with this? Will you be able to say no to absolutely everything that interferes with your values? No. Life happens. Things will come up that will get in the way, and that's fine. Flexibility is important but always aim to do your best to choose the direction of your values.
The more you honor your core values, the happier and more deeply fulfilled you will feel. The more you dishonor and ignore your values, the more prone you will be to feelings of anxiousness, despondency, sadness, and a general lackluster feeling of being disengaged in your life.
The long and short of it is this: If you can arrive at your own internal definition of what your life should look like and stick to it (no matter what the next big shiny, opportunity looks like), you will be better for it.
You won't be tossed around by the winds of life because you will be firmly rooted in your own version of reality that matters to you.
Here are some quick examples of my core values (so you get an idea of what they could look like):
For me, the point of life isn't to be comfortable; the point is to continually have my feet being held to the metaphorical fire. The point of my life is to improve, strive, grow, and become more as a person.
The only original thing that I will ever put out into the world will be born of me honoring my creative impulses. The more I create, the more people I can help. And the bliss of creativity (for me) is heavily tied into my sense of contribution. As of today, my 300+ articles are read by over 1 million per month around the world. This fills my heart with joy more than any other numerical metric in my business/life.
It is baked into my DNA to be aware of and care for the suffering of others. In my life, I have been through many kinds of deep pain, and the greatest gift that these painful periods have afforded me is the ability to genuinely empathize with others who also suffer. It means a lot to me to be gentle, loving, and compassionate with others. When I do this well, it fills me with a durable feeling of joy.
This article was originally published at Jordan Gray Counseling. Reprinted with permission from the author.