In doing the values exercise last year while reading Tony Robbin’s Awaken the Giant Within, I kept asking myself “What would life be like without x?”, replacing x with family, my health, running, work, achievement, money etc. That question helped me discover my top three values:
- Love (Family and Friends)
- Health & Vitality
- Helping People
My health has not been so great for a few years, and in the last six months it has really deteriorated to the point where I can’t function properly. I can’t do a full work day and I tire very easily. This is troublesome for me as I like to accomplish a lot. Achievement was a close fourth place but pure achievement without meaning or without my health or my loved ones is not worthwhile, however. Values do change over the course of your life and I’m certain that love and family were not top when I was in my 20s! It is useful to do the values exercise at various points of your life.
Actively ensuring that my values are well-supported by my lifestyle and my job means making some changes. My future career needs to ensure that I have enough flexibility to fetch kids and do homework in the afternoons, even if for an hour. In the past, I can’t recall any project or deliverable that is of any significance in relation to the joy I’ve received from my kids. Projecting that forward, helping my kids learn to read is of great significance and I don’t want to miss it.
For married people, I highly recommend Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages. It helped me to understand my husband’s love language and to communicate mine, helping us to keep both love tanks full. Friendships also need work and there are some in my life that I have not nurtured properly but at least I’m now aware and can work on them. I keep reminding myself that relationships are a great source of happiness and they endure much more than deliverables or projects at work. Value number one work-in-progress.
My focus in the next few months is to get well and be able to function properly. This means that I’ve had to retreat to home to recover and I’m actively taking steps to farm out my work responsibilities. This has a dual purpose. Not only will I stop doing the work that drains me and breaks my spirit, but I will be able to fully rest in order to recover. Once I’m well, my ideal day would include running, friends, work and writing. I need some time on my own and some time with people. I need flexibility to fit in running, homework and caring for myself. I will not embark on any endeavour that I don’t love or that only pleases someone else. Value number two, work-in-progress.
I love helping people. As much as I need recovery now and I’m trying not to have any meetings, I took a solution to a client today that really helps her. We automated something she spends hours on and we reduced the risk of errors. Hearing her say ‘thank you’ was well worth the strain I underwent to deliver to her. I am certain that my future career needs to help people, be it consulting to solve a problem or automate something manual, or to inspire people to change their lives for the better. Value number three, work-in-progress.
I strongly believe that any work that is not aligned to your values is not sustainable. I didn’t listen to my body’s warnings that my job was causing me harm. But now I’m listening and I’m making the changes I’m able to make at this time. Have you identified your top three values and whether or not your work is aligned?