If you are miserable in your job or unhappy with your life .. if you want to be doing more, are craving something different, but you feel stuck in your current situation, this article will outline exactly how to get your happy back by becoming your most authentic self and living in alignment with your purpose. Here’s how to define your values, how to live by your values, and how to make big changes in life in order to live into your values .
We’ve all experienced pivotal moments that have helped us define the kind of life we want to lead.
- Maybe your mentor went above and beyond in helping you succeed, and you decided you wanted to support people in that same way.
- Maybe your family never had enough money, and you decided you wanted the freedom to do what you want when you want without worrying about finances.
- Maybe your boss was surprisingly compassionate in a deadly corporate environment, and you decided you want to be that kind of leader too.
Whatever it might be, you’ve likely experienced moments here and there that have helped you understand what the best version of you would entail…
The problem is that many of us aren’t consciously aware of these moments!
Our decisions are guided more by what society expects than by what we feel is true in our hearts…
We’ve unintentionally established a collective norm where 80% of people hate their jobs, yet no one actually does anything about changing it!
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I want you to have the knowledge I gained over my personal growth journey (from working 12 hour days making 5 figures a year at a job that sucked the life out of me TO working 12 hour weeks, making 5 figures a month, doing what I love… read more about me here) so that you are finally equipped to make decisions that will bring you lasting happiness, fulfillment, and success.
What are values, Anyway?
This deserves a moment to define, because the word ‘values’ is thrown around haphazardly and has become a blur.
Your values are the things that you believe are important in the way you live and work, and they exist whether you intentionally recognize them or not.
“Our values are constantly reflected in the way we choose to behave,” says Mark Manson. Values usually remain steady over time, but do change as we move through different life phases.
Without undergoing an intentional discovery process, it can be challenging to know your core values off the top of your head.
When people go on quests to “find themselves,” they are essentially looking for their values.
They get away from their day to day lives so they can get a different perspective on what actually matters to them, what should matter more, what should matter less, and then (ideally) return and get on with it.
When you are living into your values, and your life and work align with them, you are content.
This is the feeling that 80% of people crave but can’t grasp.
When you are living out of alignment with your values, you become deeply unhappy.
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For example, if you…
- Value family time, but work 70 hour weeks. You’ll be unhappy.
- Don’t value competition, but work in a highly competitive sales environment. You’ll be unhappy.
WHY DO YOU NEED TO KNOW YOUR VALUES?
I once had a coaching client who was absolutely miserable in her job.
Half of her time on coaching calls with me was spent crying about the fact that she had to go back to work again the next day…
And listen, I’ve been there.
- I’ve had the shitty corporate job that left me crying in the bathroom at break time every day.
- I’ve had the Sunday night blues that crushed my chest every week.
- I’ve spent multiple evenings in a row laying in a zombie like state on my couch because I felt I had no options and nothing but soul sucking cubicle hell to return to.
But the reason knowing your values is so dang important is because it is the root cause of fulfillment!
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If you’re out there feeling so unhappy with your life, and have no idea what to do about it, you MUST start by defining your values.
The number one reason values are important
Getting clear on what you value allows you to make choices that align with your most authentic self, which creates the lasting fulfillment you’re after.
You don’t want to get to your deathbed before you find out that nothing was more important to you than watching your kids grow up, yet you’d spent most of your life in a consulting gig living in airports 6/7 nights a week.
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Creating clarity around your values is what allows you to make decisions now that will create the “ahhh, I’ve lived a good life” feeling later.
However, it’s not just a long term benefit!
The number two reason values are important
Getting clear on your values creates a sense of purpose in the day to day of your life which can get you through those tough – I hate my freaking job!!! – times.
The biggest mistake my clients make when they come to me is assuming they need to quit their job in order to live out their purpose…
And while leaving their job may very well be a viable part of the bigger picture, they also come to the realization through our work together that they can live a purposeful life RIGHT NOW.
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For example, a client of mine who also hates her job (are we picking up on the recurring theme? I love to help people escape miserable jobs to pursue their dreams) had major blinders on…
She thought the one and only solution to all of her problems was leaving her job.
Impact? No, she wasn’t making ANY in her job. It was 100% pure misery.
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Come to find out, this girl is CRUSHING her coaching conversations with her direct reports and infusing a shitty corporate environment with so much compassion, grace, and understanding that her fellow human beings are voluntarily writing her emails to let her know what an IMPACT she has made on their lives.
Can she see that when she believes that her purpose stems directly from her job description? No.
Once we removed those blinders, she was able to derive a sense of purpose from her shitty job to make it bearable enough to stay in it while she launched her dream business.
Because here’s the thing, you don’t have to be digging wells in Africa to be leaving a positive mark on the world.
Getting clear on your values allows you to actively live into them every single day, which creates the exact sense of purpose you’re chasing (and wrongly assuming only comes in the form of a job change).
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The number three reason values are important
Defining your values helps you steer clear of decisions you’ll regret.
When you know your most important values are your health, your relationship with your family, and the impact you’re making in the world, you will no longer eat an entire pizza every Friday night, or avoid your mother’s phone calls, or take the job that makes you miserable.
You’ll be doing what feels right to you and not making costly mistakes with your time, money, or energy.
How to identify your values
Identifying your values really isn’t that complicated.
Like most things in life, it’s actually pretty simple, but it’s not easy.
Step One: Make the decision that you are going to sit down and figure your values out.
Prioritize the time for it in your calendar TODAY and get it done.
Step Two: List all of the things you care about off the top of your head.
Don’t overthink this part. Don’t censor yourself. Brainstorm anything that comes up and try to fill a whole page. If you struggle with this step (and only if!) then Google a list of values to help get your gears turning. I know brainstorming isn’t my forte but sifting through lists is my jam!
Try not to get overwhelmed looking through a list of 400 values — just glance through it and pick out words that spark something in you.
Avoid falling into the trap of choosing values because you “should” value them. .
Step Three: Group all the values on your page into themes.
If you have words like kindness, friendship, empathy, community… then you something like “connection” could encompass all of those things.
Step Four: Narrow your list of themes down to the 5-7 most important life values you hold.
Heads up, this is HARD. Do it anyway.
Step Five: Rank your 5-7 values in order of importance.
Heads up, this is even HARDER. Do it anyway.
Now you have it: a list of the things that are most important to you in life.
But what do you do with said list…?
How to make your values mean something
Do you value “family”? Or “health”? If so, I have a question for you …
WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN!?
The key to living into your values is having powerful guiding pillars that actually inspire the “right” (according to you) kind of action.
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In order to make your generic values mean something, you need to create what I like to call guiding pillars.
Guiding pillars represent your most important values in a way that evokes emotion IN YOU, inspires action IN YOU, and feels right TO YOU.
There’s a huge difference between valuing “family” and working every day to “build a treasure house of happy memories with my family”. Same with “health” versus “live a vibrantly healthy life exploding with joy.”
One tells me nothing about how I’m supposed to live into “family”, the other makes it really clear for me to do what feels right.
If you think you know what your values are, I encourage you to take it one step further and craft a powerful statement for each value that really brings to life what you mean by that one word.
Make it start a fire in your belly! And share it in the comments with us so we can be inspired too!
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How to bring intentionality to your values
We’re all busy people.
Switching from auto pilot to intentionally living out our values every day requires a habit change.
Any successful habit change is accompanied by a process for tracking your progress. The same goes for your values.
If you want to be your most authentic self and live into your values, you need to make it a part of your routine and set up a system to track it.
Here’s what I find works best for me and my clients.
Get really clear on all of the possible actions that “qualify” as a step in the right direction of your value.
Write these out in the following format: “any time I [action], or any time I [action], … I am moving toward [my value]”.
For example, “any time I go to bed by 9pm, or any time I choose leafy greens, or any time I focus on my breath, I am moving toward living a vibrantly healthy life exploding with joy.”
This takes the perfectionism right out of it for Type As like you and me! It’s not saying “every time I eat nothing but spinach and get precisely 8 hours of sleep and meditate for 1000 minutes a day without breaking my streak, then I am healthy…”
Once you’ve got your list, take 60 seconds in the morning to read through it.
This keeps your values and the practical actions you can take to live into them front and center in your mind.
Also, incorporate 60 seconds into your evening to check in with yourself and see if you took any actions toward any of your values.
Write a check mark for the days that you lived into your values. This will help you make better choices with more consistency going forward.
To make embracing your values super easy for you, I’ve created a workbook with several templates to help walk you through this process so that you can identify and live into your values with ease!
Does your job align with your values?
If you’re living your dream life and every single one of your values are being met, I am hella proud of you for having done what it takes to align your life with your values!
But, if like most people, you’re banging your head against the wall wondering why you’re so damn unhappy in your job and when your life is going to change for the better, you need to ask yourself some serious questions.
Reflect on which parts of your job DO align with your values.
Making the sweeping generalization that nothing you do is meaningful is the easy way out of this game. But I know you’re not a cheat and you can handle a challenge. Find the bits and pieces of your role that do align with your values.
If you care about empowering the poor, and you’re the director of a financial aid agency in the underprivileged area of your community, fan-freaking-tastic!
But if you care about the environment, and you work at a call center for the oil and gas industry then the fact that you bring a waste free lunch to work STILL COUNTS as impact you’re having on your colleagues when they see you and your beeswax wrap!
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Get creative in identifying the ways your job aligns with your values. And be honest with the parts that directly conflict with what you care about. Focusing on what DOES align can help you stay sane long enough to figure out how to change the parts that DO NOT align.
Get really specific with how you can uphold your values at work
If you really care about kindness, then any time you smile at someone at the water cooler (has COVID spurred a wave of online water cooler chats yet…?), or provide positive feedback to your coworkers, or refuse to yell back at your boss when he is berating you, then you are staying true to your values.
This can help you feel better about what you ARE doing when you feel like you aren’t doing enough.
Look for ways that you can live into your values outside of work.
Your purpose doesn’t have to come from your day job.
If you are passionate about solving animal cruelty, go volunteer at your local animal rescue center after work. It will fill your heart much more than moping on the couch about your crappy job ever will.
Stop making excuses and start making time for what matters.
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Finally, be really honest about what would need to be true in your life for you to be able to live fully into your values, 100%, all the time.
Yes, very often this DOES involve a career change as we find ourselves at the top of a corporate ladder we didn’t even want to climb. And that’s okay.
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You really are.
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Here’s the thing guys, creating a deeper level of satisfaction in life and experiencing lasting fulfillment is 100% within your control.
Start by getting really clear on your values so that you can empower yourself to make choices that align with them.
To make this easy for you, I’ve created a mini workbook to guide you through the process step by step so that you can pound this out in an hour or two. Grab it below!
If you get through it and you realize the life you’re living right now really does not align with the kind of life you aspire to live, I’d love to use my superpower to help you turn that around.
My one on one coaching program is here to help you
- Accelerate the process of discovering what you care about (your values, passion, and purpose) and how to bring more of it into your life (starting right now!)
- Get clear on the changes you need to make to feel like you’re living into your full potential long term
- Take action and change your life instead of settling for old excuses and falling back into old patterns of behavior
- Quit your damn job and find a career or create a business that lights you up every single day!
Sign up for a complimentary powerful coaching experience to see if this could be the right fit for you!
Have you tried to pinpoint your values? How did it help you live a life you loved? Let us know in the comments below!