When was the last time you sat down and really asked yourself what's important to you? And I really do mean to you, not your partner, your family, your friends, your boss, your colleagues or your football or gym buddies. Because here's the thing - most of us have grown up so preoccupied about wanting other people's approval that we end up putting everyone else's needs above our own. The more we do that, the more we lose track of what we want and what's really important to us; and that's when life starts to feel as if we're on automatic pilot, simply surviving instead of really living and thriving.
You know the feeling - it's when you start to wake up first thing in the morning and your heart sinks because you can't handle the thought of yet another day at work; it's when you're squashed into a crowded train (again) surrounded by people who look as happy as you are (not) about going to work, it's when you're so tired of an evening that all you can do is veg out on the sofa watching rubbish TV; and it's when you're miserable and stressed out but you simply don't know what to do to change things.
When any of my clients, friends or even I, for that matter, feel stuck in this way I always say it's time to revisit what's important to us; in other words, it's time to reconnect with our values and recalibrate what I call our Personal Positioning System or PPS.
In his book, Unlimited Power, Tony Robbins says "...it's important to learn what your values are so you will be able to direct, motivate and support yourself at the deepest level."
Let me give you an example: Jayne (not her real name) was a very successful marketer - she was well-acknowledged and respected by both her bosses and colleagues and when she made it known she was planning to go freelance, she wasn't short of job offers. The problem was that despite her success and reputation, Jayne wasn't really happy. She acknowledged she was good at her job and that getting recognition for it was important to her, but she didn't really enjoy her job nor feel any real fulfillment from it.
Once we began to explore Jayne's values it became clearer to both of us why she wasn't happy at work. Jayne's key values were around community, learning, sharing and making a difference. In her words: "I just don't get that by marketing the products I'm working on. Deep down I don't really care about them because I don't feel they're making a difference to people's lives." When Jayne was able to own her values and realise that they weren't compatible with what she was currently doing, we were able to open things up and start exploring what jobs and/or opportunities would match. This made a huge difference and it eventually meant that Jayne was able to find a job she loved and was proud of.
I often say that discovering or reconnecting with your values brings you back to your centre so no matter whether the world pulls you left, right, inside out or back to front, you're always able to find your way back to centre because deep down you know what you're about and you're happy with that. It's like having your own internal GPS system and no longer needing to ask for directions. Hence why I call reconnecting with your values your Personal Positioning System.
So how do you go about calibrating your PPS?
It's useful to think of your values in relation to different areas of your life. Also, your values don't need to be a single word - they can be a phrase or sentence. For each of the sections below note down whatever works for you and bear in mind that you may well have similar values in each area:
1. Relationships - what's most important to you when you're relating to others?
2. Family - what's most important to you about family?
3. Work - what's most important to you about the work you do?
4. Environment - what's most important to you about the environment you live and work in?
5. Wellbeing & happiness - what's most important to you about your wellbeing and happiness?
Once you've made note of your values for each of the areas above, put your list somewhere safe and keep referring back to it. You'll find you have some core values and others that shift as you change.
When people begin to be more aware of what's important to them, they start to realise why certain relationships, friendships or even jobs didn't work out. It's not that one side was wrong and the other was right. Often things simply don't work out because of a mismatch of values.
The important thing is that now you have a better handle on what's important to you, you can begin to make better choices based on what you want instead of what you think the outside world wants of you.
So tell me, what was it like to hone in on what's important to you? What insights or observations did you have? Let me know by posting a comment below.