At the beginning of a new year I find myself wavering between being reflective of the year behind me, and contemplating the year before me. There is often a sense of relief that I survived the beautiful chaos that is a year of my life, and a giddy excitement that I have the chance to start over fresh. Almost as if an invisible slate is wiped clean of all my previous year’s short comings. I say to myself things like ‘this year I’ll get up early and walk in the mornings’, ‘this year, I’ll do the dishes before I go to bed’, ‘this year, I’ll focus a new random hobby that I have been meaning to pursue for the past 15 years!’
I recently saw a meme that aptly described this sentiment, “I’m going to open a gym called resolutions. For the first few weeks it will have gym equipment and the rest of the year it will turn into a bar”. As the saying goes, ‘it’s funny because it’s true’. Though why is this the case, why do many of our well-intended resolutions fall to the wayside so quickly? Why are we then left feeling a little irksome when we don’t keep to our vague plans, needing to shrug off the uncomfortable shudder that courses through our body at the thought of our failed commitment to self? Whilst there are many potential reasons that one may stop going to the gym, fail to save more money each week or train for the self-imposed torture of a half marathon (which incidentally will never be on my to-do list), experience shows me that is more to do with our true (authentic) values than it is about laziness, financial pressure, family commitments or any other of our creative excuses.
So what are these ‘values’ and how do they play a part in our choices and our resolve to do something?
Values are the driving force behind all our unconscious motivations. They differ from morals in that they are individual rather that adopted by collective ideas such as a religion, community or culture.
As a child we foster our ‘family’s values’- and these values may be retained, either consciously or unconsciously, well into adulthood. In fact until you come to question them, often at times of duress or greater self-awareness, they may govern your life and your choices for better or for worse.
It’s important to become aware of our personal values as:
> they connect us to our greater purpose in life
> they change as we grow
> they are things we choose to care about, they are not facts though they do determine our prejudices, judgments and choices
> they will be hierarchical, i.e. family may be of greater importance than adventure
> our personal growth and life circumstances needs to be aligned with them
> we need to let go of the old values that no longer serve us or are no longer relevant
> in order to live a rich and meaningful life we need to make choices in accordance with our values, doing so requires us to be aware of them
> and most importantly, if we live in the moment in accordance with our values, our goals become less like ‘greatly anticipated and overly prized destinations’, but rather worthwhile achievements in the course of our life. In other words, the journey becomes more valuable than the destination.
Humour me for a minute, it’s New Year’s Eve and you’re having a laugh with your good friend Tanya and sharing your resolutions for the year ahead. Her core values are: Family, Loyalty, Career, Kindness, Creativity, Education, Adventure.
Tanya, a busy mother of three young boys and a full-time marketing manager, says “that’s it, I’m going to get fit this year”. Sure, that’s sounds great, getting fit seems like a healthy choice, though you know Tanya values time with her family, is passionate about her work and loves to spend her down-time with her current art project and a block of chocolate. With this in mind can you see the potential down-fall of this goal? Firstly it’s vague, and vague goals are open-ended, half-hearted promises. Secondly, there is a good chance that your friend Tanya feels that she should be ‘fit’, potentially an inauthentic value stemming from social pressures or outdated personal/family values, rather than an achievable goal that is aligned with her present life. Perhaps if Tanya’s resolution was to play soccer in the park a few afternoons a week with her soccer-mad boys then she may be more likely to stick to her resolution as it is aligned to her greatest value, family. Thus making her journey to achieving her goal more valuable than the goal itself. Reducing anxiety and increasing life enjoyment.
If we are to set goals, keep our resolutions, make decisions (and feel confident in them) we should take the time to connect with our true values, realign them where necessary, and allow them to be our guide. One of the simplest ways in which to do this is to question your current choices, lifestyle, judgements, likes and dislikes. An authentic value (that is, a chosen personal value that we are aware of and that governs our decisions) is an intrinsic belief that requires no defending. Understanding and articulating our values in the present may free us from ‘old stories’ that are holding us back in life. There is the potential to become more tolerant of others as well as alleviate stress and frustrations through the recognition of our motivations for our judgments of others, in turn becoming more self-aware and able to live more fully in the moment.
To uncover your Authentic Values and prepare yourself to set achievable goals for the year ahead, join me for a Two Hour Experiential Workshop. Wednesday 10th February 2015, 7:30pm-9:30pm. $40. For more information and to resister your interest visit http://www.awakeninsights.com.au/workshopsgroups.html
“It is good to have an end to journey toward;
but it is the journey that matters, in the end”
: Earnest Hemmingway