Last Updated on August 20, 2020
Remember when you were young and dreaming of the future? Remember fantasizing about what you’d be when you grew up? Maybe a teacher? A doctor? A firefighter? A great artist?
But then you get older, and the momentum of life gets in the way. You have a family. You get a job. You have people depending on you, and it feels like every minute of every day is already taken up with responsibilities
You find you’re a long way from that kid lying in bed and dreaming of the future. And the life that you’re living looks a lot different than what you imagined.
Your external world just doesn’t match your inner one. And suddenly you realize the life you live isn’t the life you love.
Living Your Values
If you’re feeling frustrated, dissatisfied, depressed, or simply bored with your life, then it could be because you’re living a life disconnected from your values. And that means you’re probably making choices, whether in your personal or your professional life, that may not support or even reflect what matters to you.
You’re living a life that doesn’t mirror who you are, what you want, or what you believe. And, at best, that makes for an inauthentic and superficial existence. At worst, it means that your circumstances control you, rather than you controlling your circumstances. It makes you a victim of your life, not a victor.
Knowing Your Values
When you’re not living your values, all areas of your life, from your relationships to your work to your physical and mental health, will suffer sooner or later. But, in all the rush of daily life, it’s probably been a long time since you’ve stopped to think about what your values are, about what’s important to you.
But just because you may not be able to name your values right off the bat doesn’t mean you don’t have any. The heart and soul inside you haven’t just disappeared. It just means you’ve temporarily forgotten how to listen to them.
The great news is it doesn’t have to take a lot of time or effort to reconnect with your values, and the rewards of doing so can last a lifetime. A great way to begin is just to sit down with a pen and paper and take a personal inventory.
Write down the things that make you feel excited and motivated. List the achievements you are most proud of. Then describe your greatest weaknesses, your most significant failures. Reconstructing your values through exercises like this is the perfect way to reintroduce yourself to a familiar stranger: You!
Values at Home
Once you’ve reconnected with those core values that inspire and fulfill you, it’s time to begin aligning those values with the life you’re living. And there’s no better place to begin than your own home. Focus on making your home environment reflect your passions and your beliefs.
This is not only going to ensure that your home is the nurturing, soul-nourishing space it should be for you and your family, but it’s also going to tell the world immediately who you are and what matters to you.
So, if you are passionate about the environment, then make sure your home, and your home life, supports that. You might, for example, take up composting rather than throwing your food waste into the trash. And if you want to take things to the next level, why not use your compost to start a beautiful garden and share the yields with your local food bank?
Living your values at home, though, might turn out to be a bit more difficult than just taking up green habits. Reconstructing your values might have made you realize that what matters to you, what would make you happy, is to be able to spend less time at work and more time with your family.
You might realize that your house is just too big or the commute is too long, that you’re hustling to death to keep a home and lifestyle you just don’t want or need anymore. Living authentically might well mean selling your home and moving to one that suits your needs and values. Aligning your life with your values isn’t always easy, but freedom and joy wait on the other side of the sacrifice.
Values at Work
True, living an authentic life may start at home, but most of us spend at least a third of our lives at work. And if the work you do doesn’t match your beliefs, your goals, and your passions, you’re never going to find the kind of peace and fulfillment you deserve.
That’s why understanding the culture of a company before you accept a job is so important. Researching the business and talking with past and present employees, if possible, is a great way to understand what the company stands for.
If you’re already employed, that doesn’t have to mean you’re stuck. No matter what your position, whether you’re management or a newbie, it’s still possible to change the company culture from within, especially if leadership understands how good it can be for the bottom life.
A company in which employees at all levels share the same mission, goals, and values is a company that’s going to grow, a company in which employees are going to work harder and do better — because living one’s values is just as important for businesses as it is for individuals!
When you were young, you probably envisioned a life filled with purpose and with joy. Days spent doing what you love and were meant to do. Hours packed with things and people you love. And you at the center, not only using your talents to enrich your own life but to make the world around you a better place. But those dreams don’t have to be simple childhood fantasies. When you align your life with your values, you can have the purpose and joy you always dreamed of.