Straight up, the first thing that prevents you from living the life you want – rather than the life that is expected of you – is that you don’t know what you really want.
Stop and think about it. Have you sat down and truly thought about what you want from life? Have you ever defined or gained clarity on what is truly important to you?
For so many of us – we’re out of touch with what we really want. It’s all too easy to fall into line with societal norms, or the expectations of our loved ones – even though, at times, these are vastly different from what our true self wants.
Think back to school, taking the subjects that your parents or teachers think is best for you – when really you wanted to try your hand at photography or history? Going on to University and studying commerce because your father is a successful businessman, or going to med school because both your parents are doctors – but your passion was in fashion design. For many of these life changing decisions, we do what is expected of us – and often we are reared to believe that is what we want.
And without self awareness, we live on autopilot. We tick things off and get shit done. This can go on for ages before we even realise it. You might wonder, what’s so bad about living this way? Well, if you’re happy to what others want – then nothing. But if there’s a little part of you that just doesn’t feel like this is the right path for you – then that’s what is so bad about living this way. But in order to wake up from autopilot we need to be self aware or mindful of ourselves.
why beliefs and values are important
Everyone has beliefs or values. They’re as critical to us as blood and oxygen, and as unique as our fingerprints. Our values and beliefs are the Commander in Chief – directing our morals, our thoughts, our feelings, our actions, our behaviours. Like an inner compass, they guide us where to go. These are who you are as your true self – not what you think you should be.
When we are aware of our beliefs and we are thinking, feeling and acting these beliefs – we are experiencing alignment. Life feels good. Easy. Life flows. When our values don’t match our daily actions, then life feels out of harmony. Discontent. Restless. Life is uneasy. This affects us on a holistic level – mentally, emotionally, spiritually and even physically!
How to determine your beliefs and values
Step One: Visualise
Sit down and still your mind.
Where does your mind go when it’s day dreaming? What is your dream life? I’m not talking having millions of dollars, splashing it at endless parties on strippers as you float around the Mediterranean. I mean, we could still find values in this – but let’s try to be slightly more grounded and realistic.
For me, my dream life is spending as much time with my family as possible – working flexibly without being dependant on location – and being able to travel the world when we like. It’s mutually respectful relationships, where our children are partners in our relationship. It’s minimal in material and abundant in emotion and energy.
Step Two: Extract
Look back at your description / visualisation and think about what values are present. This could stump you, especially if you really have no idea what values are or just know the generic ones we are taught in school e.g. “respect” “kindness” etc etc blah blah blah.
From the moment I described, I can extract the values:
- Love and connection
- Freedom (financial, and being able to make decisions that work for us)
- My love language – time spent with others
- Vitality and being alive
Even if you don’t know the specific name of the value you’re trying to express, just jot down a phrase or some words to describe what you are trying to say.
Step Three: Pare Back
This step is good if you have a bunch of values! Have a look and see if you can group any common values together. If you had listed financial independence, being able to make my own decisions, more choice in what I do with each day – those three could be grouped under a broader value of “freedom”. There’s no set amount of values or beliefs that one should have – certain ones will be of importance at different stages in your life, so it’s always good to revisit them when things start to feel a bit off.
Step Four: Define
Have a think about what each of these values mean to you. The value ‘freedom’ will mean different things to different people, so it’s important that you have clarity over what they mean for you and your life.
For me, a value of vitality / feeling alive means… not being consumed with busy-ness; being mindful, present and conscious of what’s going on; intentionally choosing what I am doing, and not doing things out of obligation; including experiences which spark passion for me into our weekly rhythms and routines.
Once you’ve done that… check out our next blog on:
Step Five: Begin Living Your Values
Easy as that! What do you think?