What's Most Important To You?
"When I asked my nine-year old nephew Michael what he thought I did as a professional speaker, he replied, "You talk to people about what's important."
I felt myself beam at his insight, which I had been so challenged to identify for myself. I acknowledged his brilliance and then asked him, " Michael, what's most important to you?"
He paused a minute and said, "My family, my house, my dad's job, and laughing with my friends Nick and Arthur at school." I was amazed at his clarity. Leave it to a child to know what makes them tick. If we'll only listen, oh, how much we can learn about how to feel less stress in our adult lives.
Relationships, security, laughter, learning. Core needs. Whether it's a nine-year-old boy, a 39-year old CEO, or a 59-year-old nurse, we all have core needs that reflect the values we hold most dear. These needs and values shape how we experience life. Yet, many of us never explore or talk about those values until we hit a crisis, which only adds to the pain we're already feeling. It doesn't have to be that way.
If we are willing to take the time now to deepen our self-awareness and learn the communication skills to express our values to each other, life will become a whole lot easier, more meaningful and enjoyable. As we discover and dialogue about our values, we free ourselves to create the experiences that match them. Without that knowledge, life is one unconscious choice after another that may or may not get us what we truly want and need.
Take 30 seconds right now to write down the four most important things you value in life today. If it's hard to decide, answer these questions:
1) What values make you feel happiest and on purpose?
2) What values do you most want your children to learn (If you don't have children, imagine that you did)?
3) What values do you want your loved ones to remember about you after you're gone?
Here's a list of twenty values to get you started. In order of importance from 1-20 (1 being your most important value and 20 being your least important value), list what is most important to you.
What are your top four values?
Now ask yourself what you're doing or can do every day to create, experience, and express those values; those values that make you feel good during and after you've done them. List at least four actions -- one for each value (keep adding to your list as you notice actions and activities that make you feel good about yourself. When you're down, review your list, choose and then do something immediately from your list and it will bring you back up again. The more you do this, the longer your good feelings will last.)
If your list is short, your challenge (and gift) is to put your attention on what one thing you can do in the next 24 hours that would align you more closely with what you value.
If your list is long, and you're still yearning, consider adding the next four values (5-8) and choosing four more activities that bring more joy in your life.
There can be a difference between the values you hold as ideals to live by and the values you actually live by. You'll often find this to be true if you're feeling unhappy.
I like what Gloria Steinem said -- "If you want to know what's important to people, take a look at their checkbook stubs." Look at your checkbook -- what does IT say about what is important to you? Do your choices reflect you values? For example: If you say that work is one of your core values, yet you hate going to work, it's time to ask yourself, "Is it the job, or the way I'm thinking about the job? What am I doing to make this job more valuable, meaningful and enjoyable to me right now?" (You're going to be there anyway and you have a choice -- What do you choose to feel -- miserable or grateful?) The philosopher Anonymous said, "One cannot be grateful and unhappy at the same time." Perhaps your one task becomes "Focusing for one minute on why I took this job." Your answer will help you discover more about what you really value and what to do about your job.
It's easy to get overwhelmed by trying to change too much too quickly. You don't have to change everything today. When Mother Theresa was asked how she got so much done in such overwhelming circumstances, she said, "I just do the very next thing that is in front of me that needs to be done and everything that is important gets done."
So, like Mother Theresa, simply ask yourself, "What's one thing I can do right now that will bring me closer to what is most important to me." And then go do it.
And then email me and let me know what you decided to do and what happened.
Inspirations and blessings,
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