Purpose Inspires. Values Guide. Habits Define.
I’ve been working on changing my ways. Not all of them, of course: ‘just’ the ones that trip me up constantly. One of these is when my actions don’t reflect my values. In this blog post, I’m skipping past purpose (in quote above) and going straight to values and habits (which, for the purpose of this post, I’m lumping into the broad ‘actions’ category).
Living out my values
One of the things I care deeply about is living out my values. Not occasionally, but always. When my behaviours are not aligned with my values, it is problematic for me. That’s likely because one of my top values is integrity (i.e., adhering to my ethical principles). It starts to get meta pretty quickly, but here is what it boils down to: I am happiest when I am living out what I claim is important.
For example, I’ve been saying that being active in nature (my value) is important to me and is a source of well-being and joy. Yet, I rarely get out into nature–certainly not as much as I state I would like to be doing. As a result:
- I frequently brood about the fact that I’m not getting out in nature
- I question whether “I’m full of it” (i.e., do I really want to be outdoors since I don’t follow through?), and
- I berate myself for not getting my act together and going for a hike or snowshoe or whatever.
Not great. Certainly not conducive to upping my happiness (where happiness is described as “experiencing frequent positive emotions, such as joy….combined with deeper feelings of meaning and purpose”).
Given that I want my actions to align with my values, what do I need to do? In the case of “well-being by being active in nature”, I see it this way:
a) I confirm whether that value (“well-being by being active in nature”) holds. Yes, it does.
b) I determine, specifically, what “being active in nature” means as it relates to my well-being. Does a walk along the beach contribute? Yes. Does a bike ride in town contribute? Nope. I’ve landed on: in the city, connecting with nature means being physically active via a walk in Pacific Spirit Park OR a walk along the water at the beach. Outside of the city, it largely means hiking or walking in beautiful nature.
c) I establish the frequency/duration/intensity I need when it comes to “being active in nature”. Again, for me it means 1.5 hours or more of challenging physical activity weekly in a natural environment. And, it has to be free of city sounds.
Once I am clear on what it means to live out this value, I can more easily determine the actions I need to take. I remind myself that these actions can be modified. For example, for the next month or so, my “being active in nature” consists of hiking the BCMC every 1-2 weeks OR hiking to Hollyburn Peak (because I am training for a longer hiking trip in the summer). And, it can include going for walks in Pacific Spirit or at Spanish Banks beach when I am not doing the other trails.
- If you are not sure what your own values are, you may wish to take the Barrett Personal Values Assessment.
- How to consistently align your actions with what you want in life. Kassey Vilches encourages us to articulate our “why” to help guide our choices.
- Do you have a value that you do not see reflected in your daily, weekly and/or monthly actions?
- If yes, get very specific on what it would look like to live out that value. Write it down.
- Select 2 actions or more that bring you closer to living out that value. Commit to these. Figure out a way of doing so that works for YOU.
[Photo from Pexels]