For the majority of my life, I had no idea what my values were. That’s not to say I didn’t have any values, but just that I hadn’t spent any time really considering what they were and how they impacted how I lived my life. They were an undercurrent that was gently influencing my choices and behaviour without my full awareness. They were what caused the sinking feeling that I got sometimes when my behaviour was not most becoming, but they were also the warm feeling I got when I made a difficult choice that I knew to be somehow right. But if asked, I would have struggled to name them or actively call on them to help me navigate my way through life – they existed purely as a conceptual and passive passenger.
I properly connected with my values after working with a coach of my own who led me to question more about what was behind the compass that was guiding my choices. Knowing your values helps guide your purpose because it gives you a framework to operate in. An exciting new job doing something you’re good at and enjoy is one thing... but if it meant working for a global mining company with questionable ethics that don’t align with your values - that’s a different story…and an actual real-life scenario for me!
Back when that particular job opportunity arose, I couldn’t actually name what my values were but I knew in my gut that the job would make me unhappy. It had an “ickiness” to it that my internal compass was pulling we away from. Since doing work to identifying my values and the two main ones - Fairness and Intuition - were clearly at play in that decision. At their core, our values are built upon our personal beliefs of what is important to us as an individual and being aware of what those factors are takes the guess work out.
My values list includes seven values in total, but Fairness and Intuition are my guiding stars. There are some innate values that (in general) we all have to one degree or another such as honesty, authenticity, etc that I chose not to include on my list as I wanted to focus on and explore the ones that really resonated with me as mine. I have taken some time to explore each one and what it means personally to me so that they form a little bit of a manifesto:
Fairness – I use my privilege and platform to be an advocate, ally and champion for others. A lack of fairness invokes my sense of injustice and makes me curious about exploring that further. What about this situation is unfair and what power do I have to act?
Empathy – I nurture a deep connection to others by holding space for them whilst protecting my own energy. I consider myself and empath and Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) so whilst it’s very easy for me to tune into the feelings of others, it can also become overwhelming if I’m not careful with how much I open myself to others. One of the things that drew me to Coaching was the opportunity to help people and hold space for them within a structure that helps me maintain healthy boundaries and energy levels.
Curiosity – I cultivate a playful desire to discover, learn, grow and inspire. Being curious has been a part of who I am since I was a child. It was a no brainier that this would be one of my values. It’s important to me because curiosity is the power to open doors, explore opportunities and discover more about ourselves and the world around us. If we stop being curious, we close ourselves off from learning and growing. I hope I never stop being curious!
Creativity – I let my imagination out to play as a form of expression and a path to soul expansion. This is something else that has always been part of me, but it took me a while to be able to really claim it as a core value. When I rediscovered a childhood love for writing, I realised that there are so many ways to be creative other than being the next Picasso (I have zero talent for drawing). I now recognise that I use my creativity not only in writing, but also in problem solving; it’s in how I take photos and capture images; it’s how I use analogies to explore ideas; it’s how I cook, how I chose what to wear and do my make-up. All of us have a creative spark that can be used to enrich our life in many ways.
Intuition – I call on the deep universal knowing of my body, spirit and soul to guide me. This was another part of me that has always been there but for many years was lost under the noise of daily life. Our intuition is a gut feeling, a heart tug, a thing we just know without being able to say exactly how. My Intuition was drowned out for a long time by a belief I had that other people knew better than me. It took some deep self-discovery for me to once again hear that inner voice. I consider it one of my superpowers for both helping myself and supporting my clients.
Joy – I make space for and prioritise the people and things (big and small) that bring joy. Who doesn’t want a life filled with joy?! It’s so easy though to get caught up in life’s problems, that we lose sight of simple joys. So, I’ve made it a priority to make time and space for joy, and recognise it when it happens too. Having Joy has a value has also helped me shed things in my life that don’t bring me joy. To let go of relationships or behaviours that actually steal joy. Making an effort to acknowledge and be grateful for small joys - catching a sunrise; a perfect cup of tea; watching a squirrel steal from the bird feeder - they are the little things that that light me up.
Wholehearted – I honour and acknowledge all feelings and live life fully. There is a lot of emphasis in the spiritual/wellbeing world on the concepts of love and light to the point where it has become a bit of a cliche. It’s also only half of the picture as you cannot have light without shadow too. A big part of my own spiritual and personal development journey has been understanding that shadow side of myself and being willing to wholeheartedly explore things that are not always comfortable to look at. This is where I’ve uncovered and worked on my own inner prejudices; acknowledged my privilege as a white, cis gendered, able bodied and heterosexual woman; it’s where I’ve realised I have so much more still to learn. Going all in, no matter what it is – that’s where we get the most reward. I don’t want to live half-heartedly, do you?
One of my favourite things about discovering and connecting my values is noticing how they intersect and circle each other. My curiosity leads to exploring; my wholeheartedness encourages me not to back away when things get tough; and my Joy keeps me focused on keeping playful balance in my life. Knowing what my values are helps me tune in to how I really feel; it steers my decision making and takes some of the guess work out of life.