Do you constantly feel stressed out? Like there’s not enough time to accomplish everything you need to? Jennifer Tuma-Young has been there. “I was always running and finding ways to fit more and more in, but I was never fulfilled. It was like I was on a wheel,” she recalls. That’s when she decided to become more proactive – and selective – about how she spent her time. “What if we really looked at our time and decided, ‘How do I want to live? What do I want in my life?’” She calls it a ‘day dump,’ in which she and her coaching clients would write down how they’re spending their time, and engage in conscious ‘day design.’ “That level of awareness allows you to make different choices,” she says.
The first step in creating the kind of schedule you want, says Tuma-Young, author of Balance Your Life, Balance the Scale, is understanding your “anchoring system” or core values. She uses the acronym BALANCE to represent it, and encourages clients to “Brain dump and breathe; Assess and accept; Let go and laugh; Add and appreciate; Navigate and find joy in the journey; Confront and connect so you can get to the root issues; and Engage and experience the gift of life.”
Next, it’s important to line up your schedule and your anchors and determine if you’re allocating your time appropriately. “You can say you value this, but your day-timer will tell you what you value,” she says. “Let’s be real with ourselves.”
She’s grappled with these issues herself. “I always said ‘I never have enough time,’ but I was just making myself busy, like going to every networking event with the possibility of meeting someone. [I had to realize] not everything is meant for me; the world seems to be a smorgasbord, but it’s not.” She tries to live out the same values in parenting her young children. “Many kids are in every activity you can imagine, but my kids pick one activity and commit to it fully. If they don’t like it, the next season they can pick another, but they’re not doing more than one in a season because I want them to understand the concept of choice.” That extra time allows her family to volunteer together, an important value she wants to instill. “She seems to love it,” she says of her daughter, “and we don’t feel the stress of running all the time.”
Saying no can be difficult in a go-go society. “It’s making peace with the fear of missing out,” she says. Sometimes that means putting your foot down and setting expectations at work. “I’ve realized the beauty of paring back and have worked with executives to put their Blackberries down and not expect their employees to respond at 9:30 at night. I don’t waver: the best companies force their employees to take down time. It’s not 24-7; you need to find your own balance.”
How do you find balance, at work and at home?
Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. She is the author of Reinventing You and Stand Out, and you can receive her free Stand Out Self-Assessment Workbook.
Benjamin Franklin addressed values-based decisions years ago when he said, “We stand at a crossroads, each minute, each hour, each day, making choices. We choose the thoughts we allow ourselves to think, the passions we allow ourselves to feel, and the actions we allow ourselves to perform. Each choice is made in the context of whatever value systems we have selected to govern our lives. In selecting that value system, we are in a very real way, making the most important choice we will ever make. “
Over the years, I have seen hundreds of sets of organizational and team values plastered on every imaginable surface. All too often though, those values are not embedded into daily work and decisions. It’s easy to spot values-driven organizations by observing their decision-making process. Rarely a day goes by without a decision being made that explicitly considers one of their values. For nearly 20 years we have worked with Barry Davis, Executive Chairman of EnLink Midstream.
While the multi-billion dollar publicly-traded company he founded was still in its infancy, I partnered with Davis to develop their foundational E 4 values: Excellence, Employee Focus, Ethics and Enthusiasm. His team articulated actionable descriptors to support each value.
Today, EnLink is a multi-billion-dollar enterprise, and their values have been the core of its culture during the past 18 years of growth. Even as the company quintupled in head count and locations, EnLink continued to conduct all-employee quarterly meetings to demonstrate its value of Employee Focus. That decision came with significant time and financial investments. If Davis had based the ROI analysis solely on the numbers, he would have stopped the meetings a long time ago. But because he was committed to living their values, Davis and his team maintained the all-employee quarterly meetings as a forum for communication and for staying connected with the business and its people.
Similarly, I recall a Fortune 1000 company that wanted to offer new employee benefits that would give employees more choices to meet varying personal needs. But these new benefits came with a multimillion-dollar price tag. The Board approved the plan based on the company’s core value of “respect for the individual.” They realized that the cost of not living their values was ultimately much greater than the cost of the new benefits.
If you don’t use your values to make decisions and guide your actions, then why have them? If you do not value your team’s values, no one else will. So, as you are faced with decisions, use your values to help you determine what to do. Making a values-based decision sends a strong message about your values and your leadership.
Take the time to communicate your values, allow your team to personalize them and, most importantly, live them. Taking these steps will ignite your team’s passion and sense of ownership.
In my one-on-one strategy work with numerous CEOs, our first order of business is to always revisit the core values, mission, and vision. These three identity elements define what a company believes, stands for & values more than profits, where the company is going, and why the company exists.
Without clarity around these three elements, the company will struggle, it will remain in a consistent reactive state, and its employees will lack clarity on its purpose and direction.
Setting them, however, is only half of the equation. Where so many companies fail in this initiative are in the rollout, and in the consistent reinforcement of the values every day.
Once we set or reset the values, mission, and vision, we create a plan to roll them out through an interactive custom training session, and we identify how to integrate them into the company’s operations.
Here are 9 specific ways CEOs and their leadership teams can integrate core values into the everyday fabric of their businesses.
- Live and lead by example.Leaders are always being watched. Setting core values, and then failing to abide by them, is worse than not establishing core values at all.
A solid core values system is especially important in difficult times. It’s rather easy to adhere to established desired behaviors when things are going well. When a company hits a bump in the road however, is when it’s most important to stand by what you believe at your core.
Teach the values through orientation/training. It’s unrealistic to simply send out an email or a document listing core values, or engrave them on coasters, and think that everyone will adapt them. Formal training communicates that the values matter.
One of my advisors was COO of a $1.2 billion company. He was instrumental in growing it from $4 million to a billion. He personally led a 4-hour training program on core values for all new employees, prioritizing the training ahead of HR training.
The training conveys the company’s commitment, and also dedicates the time needed to explain how the values originated and what their significance is to the company.
In addition to re-writing the position descriptions used to attract candidates, my role in interviewing & vetting and candidates for my client’s organizations focuses solely on the cultural fit. I run candidates through a rigorous questioning process to identify who can truly move their companies to the next level and will likely be around for the long term.
Every employee represents the brand. Every employee is accountable to the values, mission, and vision of the organization as they represent the company.
Values lose their credibility when leadership talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk, and when they lose sight of what the values mean to both the employee and customer experience. Leaders can avoid this outcome by remaining committed and intentional to building a values-centric culture.
These days everyone is really busy. (Say that again, right?!)
You may have responsibilities to your family, your work, your children’s activities or your community. All these are competing for your valuable attention.
Sometimes we let our schedule run our lives and railroad our priorities, as opposed to us taking charge of our schedule and priorities.
The result is exhaustion, stress, and frustration.
Beware of warning signs that your life may have become off-center, and take action today to bring a greater sense of balance to all the areas of your life.
And, always remember: there is more to life than the daily grind.
Four signs your life may be out of balance
- Your “to do” list appears to be the size of the Empire State building
- You feel you are very busy but not sure you are accomplishing anything
- You feel burned out. You’re constantly tired, have headaches or other physical and emotional signs of stress.
- You feel like you are living someone else’s schedule and have lost your direction.
Sometimes it may feel as though you’re moving through life as if you have no choices, no purpose or freedom to pursue your highest values and priorities.
You realize there may be an area or two of your life that you have neglected. Instead of living your life to its full potential, it feels like you’ve spent valuable time and attention in other areas.
So, how do you bring your life back into balance?
Follow These Six Tips To Bring More Balance Into Your Life
1. Acknowledge and accept that you cannot do everything all the time
You only have so many resources: time, energy, money, etc. While it is understandable to want to accomplish much and please a number of people, you are only one person and cannot always manage to do it all.
So, stop; take a deep breath and regroup.
All you can do is all you can do. And, all you can do is enough! Let go of the need for perfection, and of solving all problems for all people. You cannot do all that needs to be done, all the time.
2. Manage yourself, not time.
There is really no such thing as “time management.”
But, we can manage our activities. Everyone has the exact same amount of time – 24 hours in one day.
Many days we wish we could just tack on a few more hours to finish a project, or to get more rest or to do other things we would like to be able to squeeze into our day.
Managing yourself reflects a sense of responsibility in what you do in a day, and in a lifetime. It is being proactive and realizing the power of choice, and knowing what you do have control over.
3. “Add and subtract.”
Regarding activities: What pressuring task are you willing to give up, or subtract, in order to have or achieve something more important in a different area?
To do more of one thing, you must do less of others. You must be willing to cut some activities from your schedule – even if just temporarily – in order to accomplish higher priorities.
When planning your week, determine which less important tasks or projects can wait. Subtract these from your weekly “to-do” list – and feel the sense of being overwhelmed lessen automatically.
Regarding other people: Identify “A” people in your life.
These people build you up. They believe in you. They support you. You know someone is in the A category if you feel better about you after being with them. They add to your life, and they add to you.
“B” people are neutral. You feel about the same after being with this person than you did before.
The people on your “C” list really need to go into a circular file, to be released or phased out. Granted, that is not always possible. But these people are typically wet blankets that only drain you and add to stress to your life.
“Add” or spend more time with A people. They will energize you, empower you, inspire you, and give you strength rather than stress!
4. Just say “No”
“I just need a small favor…”
“We can always count on you.”
“You’re so good at…”
What happens when you hear these messages? Do you feel flattered, annoyed or used?
What do you think will happen if you say no? Sometimes we say yes to things because we feel pressure to give an immediate answer. However, always remember you have the right to take some time to think about what you can reasonably do before responding.
Being able to say no is a critical piece in reducing stress and balancing your life. It also gives your yes’s much more power!
5. Schedule time for yourself
If you don’t take care of yourself, who will?
If you don’t take time and steps to preserve your health and well-being, then who will?
It is wonderful to have other people in our lives we can help, work with, be friends with and share activities with. However, you should be your own best friend first.
I know you want your family and friends to have the best of you! It takes deliberate effort on your part to make that happen. Make it a priority to schedule the time and place for yourself to bring what gives you comfort, health, joy or whatever you most need now.
Be intentional in resting, in playing, in growing. Take at least 10 minutes a day to read, to walk or to rest. Scheduling time for yourself is a must if you want the best of yourself ready to tackle your busy schedule.
6. Live with purpose!
A life oriented around an authentic and passionate purpose is one that is much easier to keep in balance.
For this reason, there is no perfect, one-size-fits-all balance plan you should be striving for.
The best life balance plan is different for each of us because we all have different priorities and different lives.
The quote, “Life is a journey, not a destination” has much value in terms of reminding us about the value of maintaining a balanced life. There is no “last and final time” to clean our homes, care for our children or families, maintain our own health or accomplish some goals.
There will always be something we need to do, even after retirement, and this is a good thing!
The pleasure is that we have a choice about how to live our lives, activities to be involved in and people to be in relationships with.
Be cognizant of the signs your life may be out of balance, and start taking steps today to regain your sense of control and life balance!
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If you are in crisis, please call our crisis line, call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room.
If you’re still having trouble and would like to reach out to someone about counseling or other Centerstone services, contact us.
Company values are crucial for positive organisational culture and maintaining a competitive business edge, but only if they’re properly integrated into the workplace.
Company values describe the fundamental principles of an organisation, helping a company deliver on its vision, mission and goals. Also supporting successful business transactions, internal culture and underpinning an organisation’s direction of travel, values form the essence of company identity.
Many businesses take the time to define company values, but struggle to find meaningful ways to integrate them among their people. Yet if employees are genuinely connected to company values, teams become stronger, loyalty blossoms and individuals better understand how their roles directly contribute to the company’s core purpose. What’s more, a greater connection between company values and employees is important for business interactions, helping potential partners and clients understand what a company stands for.
Tips for Bringing your Company Values to Life
Have an Open Discussion
If your company hasn’t defined its values yet, get your employees together to talk about their understanding of the company’s values and what the business fundamentally represents. It’s important to get people of all levels of seniority together from a spread of departments. Values should apply to everyone, no matter their salary band or area of expertise. Even if your company already has values, getting people together to discuss their interpretation of those values is a brilliant exercise in helping employees visualise them and gain a deeper understanding of what they mean in practice.
Company values can be designed into organisational culture by the behaviours and attributes managers’ demand of their teams. Since company values are timeless and non-hierarchical, these behaviours should be applicable to staff members of all levels of seniority and roles. For example, behaviours that align with your company values could be peer support or innovative thinking. Managers and leaders who encourage their teams to employ these behaviours in everyday work will make company values living, breathing elements of a business.
Use Experiential Learning
Described as ‘learning by doing’, it’s the widely held opinion in businesses today that this is the best way for information to have true meaning. The ideal way for company values to come to life is by giving people the opportunity through experiential learning to practice and explore the right behaviours in a safe environment. Organising practical activities to communicate company values and exploring their meaning as part of any professional development, will enhance the knowledge and understanding gained by the participants.
Incorporate Values into Recruitment, Training and Performance
Company values should be clearly and tangibly communicated from the recruitment stage to help them come alive in the workplace. Include company values in job descriptions and ensure interview questions give candidates the opportunity to describe their behaviours that align with your company values. As well as making company values a visible aspect of ongoing training courses, employee performance reviews should also have company values incorporated. When staff members and their managers reflect on their work at regular intervals – as well as planning future tasks – the relationship between company values and work tasks should be ever-present.
Reward and Recognise your People
Employee reward programmes should be rooted in company values, ensuring staff are rewarded when they show demonstrable commitment to business values. A company’s behaviour is important when asking employees to embody company values into their working lives. For example, if one of your company values is ‘collaboration’, it’s important that managers ensure that the working environment is conducive to that, with a collaborative working environment, inspiring breakout spaces and sociable team lunches.
Make them Visual
Company values are much more meaningful to employees when they’re reminded of them on a daily basis. They could be written on company branding in the office or on desktop calendars. It doesn’t just have to be the written descriptors either – inspiring photographs of company values in action can be even more memorable.
Bringing company values to life in a meaningful way can help employees feel more engaged and connected to a company. To the outside world, this translates into a company that knows its strengths and is worth doing business with.
When it comes to cover letters, hiring managers want the answers to two major questions: What can you do for us, and how will you fit in if hired? It’s the latter half that is usually harder to communicate in the constraints of a short-paragraphs-long cover letter. How on Earth do you demonstrate that you get the company culture before you’ve stepped in the door—even for the interview?
Never fear—there are surefire ways to not only convey the company’s attitude, but also own it. Try these tips for a cover letter that shows you’re the perfect fit.
Read, Read, and Read Some More
Your first step should be spending time getting to know the company’s culture. Think of getting to know a company like getting to know a person—what is he or she like? Quirky? Serious? Snarky? Refined?
Start by looking on the company’s website. The content is likely written by members of the team and therefore offers the best insight into the company’s personality. Specifically, take a look at the bio page—are there professional, black and white headshots of each person, accompanied by a laundry list of professional achievements? Or are employees shown as cartoon caricatures with a Q&A listing their favorite movies, food, and ’80s rock bands? Be sure to also take a deep dive into the company’s blog, Twitter, and Facebook accounts, as well as any other social media platforms that showcase the brand’s style.
This voice, this personality, is what you’re going to want to use when you’re drafting your cover letter. Write as if you were having a real-life conversation with the hiring manager, demonstrating that you get how things work there and can connect with the staff on a human level.
For example, is the company all business, all the time? Get straight to your accomplishments, rather than waxing poetic about how much you love the company. Applying to a public relations agency? Be snappy and creative, and mention how much you loved a recent cover story on one of its clients. Is the company anything but ordinary? Don’t be afraid to think outside the traditional cover letter format! I once applied for a position at a startup, and after doing a little research—and carefully reading the job description that said, “no boring cover letters allowed”—I drafted a cover letter that only consisted of bullet points. And guess what? I was invited to an interview the following day.
Show Your Personality
The secret sauce of the perfect hire is someone who is compatible both personally and professionally within the company.
One of the main decisions in choosing a new hire comes down to one simple human trait—will we all get along with each other? So, as you write your cover letter, don’t just think about how you come across professionally, but also how you’d fit in with the team on a personal level.
Try playing up the interests and parts of your personality that would resonate most with the company. If you read that the company frequently does team lunches, mention your foodie side—or even serve up a few restaurant suggestions. If you’re applying to a startup that’s immensely proud of its softball league, mentioning your love of team sports will dually show your attitude as a team player and possibly get you recruited to next season’s team.
Don’t Break the Cardinal Rule
What is the cardinal rule, you ask? Don’t reuse your cover letter—ever.
It’s tempting, especially when you’re deep into a job search and cranking out multiple job applications a day. I’ve been there myself! I’ve also been on the other side of the job search, and from a hiring manager’s perspective, it is always obvious when a candidate reuses a cover letter, even if there are no egregious mistakes like forgetting to write the correct company’s name.
No matter how hard you try to substitute words, it will never feel genuine if your cover letter is mostly copied and pasted. Even if you are applying to companies within the same industry, you still need to work in the nuances that differentiate each organization. Mention specific examples about why this is the place for you and why you are the perfect match for the team.
A great approach here is to name names. Checked out the company’s client list? Mention your love for a particular client’s ad campaign or a recent news item that shows your excitement for working with these brands. Noticed on LinkedIn that one of the founders attended your alma mater? Name-drop your college. When I found out that the hiring manager was a fellow art history major, I jumped at the opportunity to mention my intensive study of Italian Renaissance art. When I arrived for my first-round interview, I ended up having a 10-minute discussion about Northern versus Central Italian art—before discussing my relevant work experience for the position!
You really want this job, right? Prove it by writing something that you are passionate about. Implicit in this, of course, is that you’re passionate about the actual job and company. The more you can visualize yourself already as a member of the team, the easier it will be to write a cover letter that is both factual and authentic. Stay true to yourself, highlight your unique personality, and demonstrate that you will fit right in, and you’re almost guaranteed to land an interview—and a job.
When you have a satisfactory answer to a big question related to the nature of life, the universe, and everything, the real challenge is integrating that answer into your daily life. How can you act in alignment with your most important values and beliefs?
The first step is to notice misalignment. Ask yourself this question: Where do I feel out of alignment right now?
Where are the misalignments? In which areas of life do you not feel that your best self is shining through?
When you recognize some of these misalignments, accept them for what they are. Accept the truths you’re observing. Try to treat truth alignment as a separate phase from love and power alignment. Don’t worry about exploring your desires and taking action in a new direction until you’ve accepted the truth that your current path is out of alignment.
Have you ever experienced that moment of clarity when you realized that you absolutely needed to transition out of your job or relationship, only to watch yourself delaying action for months? In such circumstances people are often tempted to justify their actions by pretending they’re okay with their current situation.
Don’t pretend. Don’t justify. Let the situation be lousy, and admit the truth to yourself.
Next, work on accepting the consequences of your truth. You’re probably shifting towards a major transition, one that will create ripples across all areas of your life. There’s no getting around that. This type of transition is a big deal, and it’s going to take courage, patience, and persistence.
Keep reminding yourself of the importance of alignment. If you’ve discovered a profound answer, and you’ve intelligently reasoned your way to the truth of it, remind yourself that there can be no satisfaction for you in the long run if you don’t bring your life into alignment with your truth.
Welcome the challenge that you’re facing. Stop resisting it, and just surrender to it. This type of challenge will make you stronger.
Turning Profound Answers Into Daily Practice
Perhaps my #1 tool for turning profound answers into daily practice is what I call Daily Conscious Time. This is a deliberate investment, typically 15-30 minutes per day but sometimes an hour or more, to work on alignment issues.
I usually do this in the form of journaling. Here are some of the questions I ask and answer during this time:
- Where does my life still feel out of alignment?
- What would a stronger alignment look like?
- What steps can I take to transition to a stronger alignment?
Here’s an example of how I may have answered some of these questions with respect to an alignment challenge I was facing back in 2008 when I was earning $12-13K per month from having third-party advertising on my website.
- I’m making good money from advertising, and it’s easy passive income. I could probably continue making a living this way for many years. But this doesn’t feel aligned. I don’t really want to be in the advertising business. This isn’t a path with a heart for me. It was a growth experience to explore this for a while, but it’s not going to help me grow if I keep doing this. The ads distract my readers, and I know they’d be better served by sticking around to read more articles. I can’t really control the ads that Google Adsense is serving up on my site each day, and I often don’t feel aligned with the ads I do see. If I keep earning income this way, I’m going to trap myself. I can’t allow my income streams to pull me out of alignment.
- I like abundance, but I want a more heart-centered way to create it. My priority is to help people grow, so I need a business model that enhances this aspect whereas advertising detracts from it. To have stronger alignment here, I need to feel more congruent with my business models. I know that when I seek a path with a heart and decline to settle for a partial match, everything works out beautifully – usually better than I imagined. Life is testing me here. I know that alignment is more important than money, and an ad-free site would feel more aligned to me.
- In the long run, I’ll need to experiment with other business models, such as direct sales of products or workshops. I could transition gradually, allowing the ads to keep running until I have replacement income streams established. But that feels cowardly. I see the truth here, and trying to transition slowly is very risky; that will just keep me stuck for longer, possibly for years. If I remove the ads now, my income will drop significantly, but I’ll feel more motivated to explore alternatives, and I trust my creativity. This will release a lot of stagnant energy and get me thinking in new directions, and it’s sure to improve my relationship with my readers. What would my best self do? He’d remove the ads and not look back. Actually doing that would take only minutes, but it would surely change the direction of my life (and my readers lives) for the better.
Imagine doing this kind of personal growth work almost every day, working through alignment issues large and small and doing your best to resolve them. You may not always succeed, but in the long run, this persistence will yield a more aligned life from top to bottom.
Take these alignment issues seriously. They truly matter. These challenges will test you, and you may feel that life is asking too much of you when it presents you with such a challenge. At first it may even feel like more of a curse than a blessing, but when you work through enough of these, you may actually start to welcome them because these are among the richest growth experiences you’ll encounter in this life.
Last week I sent an email about how your organization’s vision, mission, and core values can drive employee engagement and performance. I mentioned that one thing organizations with bullying have in common is that they don’t focus on these very important concepts.
I thought I better send out some ideas on how to bring your vision, mission, and core values to life if I was going to tell you that ignoring them can create room for bullying.
Here are 10 (fairly easy) action steps:
- Share your vision, mission and core values in your job postings when recruiting new employees.
- Include questions about core values in your interviews during hiring.
- Include core values on your annual performance evaluation form, so that employees are measured against them.
- Create a peer reward system around your values. When someone exemplifies them, they should be acknowledged or even rewarded. (When someone violates them, they should be disciplined, up to and including termination.)
- Choose a value each month, and during that month, make that value a part of daily staff meetings, fun activities, and training programs.
- At the start of each staff meeting, share a story about a customer you have helped or an incident that occurred that has brought your business one step closer to solving that problem laid out in your vision.
- Ask employees to create a 30-second video on their phone about why the vision and mission are important to them, and/or how they live the core values every day. String them together into one video, and hold a viewing party.
- Ask each employee (or department as a whole) to review, or self-audit” their own practices, policies and procedures against the vision, mission and values. What changes can they make to realign themselves?
- Ask each department to choose a core value and create a 40-minute training around it. Provide a lunch n’ learn program for each department to deliver their training. (This is more about having fun and keeping the values top of mind than it is about really learning.)
- Ask employees to brainstorm how they can share the core values with new employees when they’re hired on. What steps will they take personally in order to engrain new hires in the culture?
I’d love to hear other things you are doing in your own organization to bring your vision, mission and core values to life. Shoot me an email and get them all on my blog!
My son recently told me about a conversation he had with one of his best friends over a girl — a girl who broke my son’s heart. It was the kind of wrenching heartbreak that launches the protective maternal instinct into overdrive. However, the conversation between my son and his friend gave me an incredible burst of hope. As the two 18-year-olds discussed the demise of the relationship and my son’s subsequent depressive state, his friend asked him, “What of yourself do you see in her?”
The question made my son pause. He thought about it. He was happy when he was with her, but did he see himself in her? In the decisions she made? In the way she behaved or thought about people and relationships?
No, he didn’t. So if this young woman didn’t reflect his values, his philosophy and beliefs about life, why was he happy when he was with her? He was happy, he mused, because he was with someone. And because he thought she cared about him. When you’re 18, that might initially seem like enough. But he’s starting to realize that it isn’t — that being with someone who doesn’t share his values was painful and destructive to his sense of well-being.
In the words of Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged, l ove is our response to our highest values — and can be nothing else. Our love of ourselves is reflected in everything we do and everyone we choose to have in our life. And the most intimate of our relationships tell us the most about how we think of ourselves and what we value.
So when you look into the eyes of your love, whom do you see?
Observe the qualities you believe they best demonstrate and live by. They could be fun or compassionate or brutally honest. They could be a master negotiator and manipulator, or easygoing and laidback, or assertive and competitive. They could be generous or self-serving, an open book or secretive, highly loyal or highly demanding. Or both. Think about how this person shows up in your life – the decisions they make, what they say, how they respond to certain situations or what they choose to do with their time. What do these things tell you about their values?
Write it down in a list. Then read it.
Read it again. Does this list reflect your values?
Think about what is important to you, how you choose to live your life and what brings you joy and satisfaction. And know that values can show up differently for each person. For example, I value fun, and I get great pleasure out of watching very bad sci-fi movies (who doesn’t love Pirhanaconda?) But he squirms uncomfortably when I suggest a Saturday of SyFy binge watching. However, he enjoys cycling down long country roads and competitive racing. I can’t sit on a bike seat for more than seven minutes without significant derriere pain and whining. But we both take time out of the busyness of life to incorporate our fun time – both together and separately. And we respect that we each need that time and space. This shared value is in alignment because we both understand and value it for ourselves and for each other.
Your values may include family relationships, passion, health and wellness, or service to others. How you express that may be different from others in your life, but if the underlying value is the same, you’ll easily see and honor that in each other. So when you look at the list, be honest: Does it reflect the values you believe to be important to you living your best life?
If you don’t, it’s time to ask yourself why. Why do you believe that you don’t deserve to live through the values you cherish? Or perhaps you believe that what you demand of yourself is unfair to demand of someone else. But somewhere in you, you don’t believe in yourself. Surrounding yourself with people who do not share your same values is the most direct way to ensure that you do not lead a joyful life. You are surrounded by people who are constantly sending you the message (sometimes unknowingly) that your values are not, in fact, valuable. That what you desire is not important. That you are not important.
Why would you do that to yourself?
When you are in misalignment with your values, you know it. You feel it in your body. You know it in your head. And you are an expert at rationalizing why – why it’s OK, why you’re wrong, why you don’t deserve what you really want. The human brain is a beautiful, powerful tool. And we can get it to rationalize anything, including relationships that destroy our sense of well-being and joy.
Being in a relationship with mismatched values doesn’t make either person a bad sort. It just means you’re not a match. The challenge with persevering in a relationship when you’re not a match is that one of you is continually subverting your sense of self and your capacity for joy. And when it comes to the person we love most, do we really want that — for ourselves or for them?
As Rand said, ” Happiness is a state of noncontradictory joy–a joy without penalty or guilt, a joy that does not clash with any of your values and does not work for your own destruction.”
My 18-year-old is figuring it out. We can spend a lifetime exploring our values and how we live them. And that’s OK. The deeper we explore, the more we learn — about ourselves and others. And the more we learn, the closer we are to living our best, most joyful life.