We often hear about direction, focus, path. Finding our passion, living our ideal life. Lately, the buzz word has been “alignment.” But how do we get into alignment?
Through our values.
It is important to ask yourself, What values are important to me? What values define how I want to live my life? Which values speak to me, on the deepest of levels?
I do this each year during my annual ritual, but also if I have a major life change.
You might think that values are constant. That what is important and a driving force never changes. And maybe on some level this is true. But I believe that as we evolve, our values evolve. Major changes in our lifestyles also impact our values. For example, maybe a healthy lifestyle wasn’t important to you last year, but a recent health issue has brought it to the top of the list. Relationship changes, job changes, housing – all can bring about changes in our values.
In the past I sought out someone else’s list and applied their words to me, to my life. And this worked, more or less. The last few times, though, when I sat down and to review those same lists, those words no longer had the same meaning, the same power, that they once did.
Words are spells. They carry magic. They have the power to heal, to restore, to rejuvenate, to bring peace. To encourage, motivate, and drive forward. I have come to need my words. The words that will be my spells, carry my magic, hold my power.
Conducting a Values Assessment
I review and select my values during my annual review ritual as I evaluate and set my direction for the coming year.
While my large list of values doesn’t change often, I create from that list a short list of values, to focus on for the year. I identify those and they become my guiding principles for that year. Maybe one year I need more focus on finances but the next year I need to return to a rest and rejuvenation period. I incorporate those values into a personal mission statement, create a paragraph or two around them. Then use that as my anchor throughout the year. To help keep direction in focus.
I weigh decisions against those values and mission. Daily I review my mission statement when I set my daily intention and make my plan for the day.
What are my words? These are the words that flowed from me as I sat to write this article:
- At peace
- author of my own journey
- Conscious living
- In Alignment
Here is an example of a prior year’s Key Values list and Personal Mission Statement:
FINANCIAL STABILITY AND INDEPENDENCE
This year, I am using my CREATIVITY, RESOLVE, and FORTITUDE to generate enough revenue to be FINANCIALLY STABLE by the end of May, increase my revenue month over month by the end of the year, and finish the year with cash in the bank and a steady stream of income.
With my CONSISTENCY, DISCIPLINE and expertise, I will serve as INSPIRATION to others.
I will DOMINATE this year by remaining PRESENT in the current MOMENT and focused on the task at hand. I will continue my pursuit of a SIMPLE, INTENTIONAL life by LIVING CONSCIOUSLY while encouraging and leading others in their quest to do the same.
How useful is a Values Assessment and Mission Statement?
Throughout the years, I have had people ask me why I do this, how it benefits me. They see this exercise as a lot of work. What I hear when they say that is fear. Fear of change, fear of success. Fear of knowing how out of control they have allowed their lives to become. And I get it. That was me once, too. The first time I heard about this exercise was in an old Stephen Covey lesson more than 20 years ago. The exercise felt challenging and restrictive.
I find this exercise very liberating. It takes a lot of guess work out of major life decisions. In the example above, the focus for the year was to improve finances. When opportunities arose that had significant expense, I weighed those choices against my goals. Having the mission statement in place and being reviewed reminded me what was important to me. It removed the stress and challenge of the decision. I could clearly ask myself “where does this purchase fit within the framework of my goals?” If the purchase fit, I made it. If it did not, I did not.
Simple as that.
When to conduct a Values Assessment
I recommend doing this assessment on a regular schedule. I review daily what I create annually. My annual review occurs on or near my birthday, what I consider to be my personal New Year’s day. But I have repeated the exercise when deciding whether or not to start a new endeavor, make a large purchase, invite into my life a person or people who would take a significant amount of time. I also review when I schedule vacations. Maybe this trip isn’t in line with the financial goals, but is intensely needed for one of the other areas of focus. Beginning of the school year is another time. How do I want to lead my child this year? What is the example I am and want to set?
How to conduct a Values Assessment
When I conduct my annual ritual, I spend a day or two preparing. The day of is spent alone, in solitude. Away from distractions. I light candles and have my journal. Have some tea, wine, and tissues ready. I review the outgoing year – successes, challenges, obstacles. I think deeply about the coming year and what I want it to look like. How I want to experience it. And what I want to outcome to be. And then I write. What I write isn’t important. Just that I do write. Other people I know who do this draw, or paint, or create music. The purpose is to open yourself up creatively, spiritually, and mentally.
As I write what usually ends up being some version of an annual review, I pay attention to the words that come. That’s where I find what is important for me to focus on. In the financial example, I noticed that year’s review included a lot of disappointments in not having had enough cash to do the things I wanted to do. So, that was changed – with intention – the following year.
You may not have a day to set aside to do this, that’s okay. Spend an hour. Your coming year certainly deserves an hour of your time. Or maybe for you a day isn’t enough. Spend a weekend. I did that one year. In a hotel room. With room service. And no responsibilities. It was probably the best review I did. Make a retreat out of it.
Drop me a note or leave a comment if you would be interested in more details or guidance.
Until next time ~ Namaste