Every decision we make throughout the day is rooted in our core values. The decision either gets us closer to our goals and values, or takes us farther away. I was writing a reflection in my journal this past weekend that focused on core values and what I realized is that my filter is a little bit janky. The 5 core values I listed out were:
- Integrity as the foundation
- Honesty with myself and others, at all times
- Freedom with my time and financial resources
- Authenticity in my words and actions
- Health in my food and activity choices
- Relationships with my partner, family, friends and business associates
It's a nice list, right? I encourage you to explore your own list of core values and evaluate the congruency between your perception and reality.
I've been influenced heavily by Brian Tracy's books, and wanted to share with you an article I came across that speaks of Integrity in Business. When I think about integrity in my own life, I feel like this is the value that I actually thrive in. Every interaction I have at work or in professional settings, I strive for integrity and congruency with transparency. I don't want to hide anything, or give off the impression I am trying to hide something to make the sale, or convince someone of something I don't personally believe in.
When we hit the rest of my values, this is where it gets a little janky. Let's talk about honesty. As an example, I just got back from a trip to South Dakota where my parents still live (and where I grew up.) In October, they have gorgeous fall weather. I am a self-proclaimed lover of the North, which includes all four seasons. Every fall I feel trapped in the South, where nothing changes until November, and I love the fall changes. So...I found a cheap flight up to Minneapolis and was able to drive to my parents' farm. My mom also needed someone to stay with my dad (long story, he can't take care of himself and she's his primary caregiver) on Wednesday night so she could go to the grocery store and band practice, which she really enjoys and they have a concert coming up. So, when people have asked why I went up to see my parents, I say to help my mom out. Well that's actually not even a fib, it's a big old fat lie. I went up there to escape the oven that is Dallas in October so that I could feel cooler weather, see fall foliage, see my family and I just happened to be there when I was able to help my mom out. You see the difference? I wasn't honest with myself. What I should and now say is "I went up there to experience fall, and I was able to help my mom out a little bit in caring for herself, and my dad." That's being honest. These small inconsistencies of honesty are important, and I am working to improve honesty in particular, with myself.
Freedom. Ooh, I love my freedom. In particular, I love the freedom of unstructured time so that I can do whatever I want. One of the reasons I love mornings is because I get up around 6:30/7, and start my day with self-development and have the time and space to work through my list, write a blog post, walk, etc...
I also want freedom with my financial resources and freedom from possessions, which requires me to do more saving and less spending, and where the majority of my incongruence comes in. This past year I made the decision to be 'free' of excess clothing. Sounds simple doesn't it? It wasn't. I got rid of over half my closet and had urges to replace all that stuff about a week after I got rid of it. Good grief. talk about being conflicted. My closet STILL has too many items in there, but I'm working piece by piece, on gaining more freedom from 'stuff.' Now my rule is if I buy something new, I need to get rid of something old. Except books, books are the exception. (We all have our limits!)
Authenticity is something I've grown into. Rather, being comfortable with my authentic self is something I have grown into. Here's an example: I've become more comfortable not wearing makeup, at least on an everyday basis, because I don't value being something I am not. I don't have large eyes and my eye lashes are blonde. Who said it's more beautiful to have big eyes that stand out? I live in Texas, outside of Dallas. This is a big thing. Most women I see put on a full face with lip gloss just to go to the grocery store. I'm not criticizing women who do this, it's just not me or part of my values and becoming comfortable not fitting in has been an evolution.
This may sound silly, but I am more comfortable now telling people I grew up on a farm, in a remote part of South Dakota and that my parents still live there. I used to tell people I moved from Wisconsin, which was true, but that's not where I spent the formative 18 years of my life that we call growing up. That took over a decade to get comfortable with, believe it or not. It's this type of stuff that adds up, matters and is important to be intentional with, in order for me to feel like I am being authentic. I am becoming more comfortable sharing some of my core beliefs, which some people say is political, but is part of how I view the world. I don't feel like I am being myself if I am not expressing who I am and what I believe when it's appropriate, or when I feel compelled to share.
Health. I used to say that I valued health, as I drank a couple glasses of wine with my 2000 calories of brie and then had dessert after. What I really meant by that was I liked the idea of being in good health and practicing discipline, to which when it comes to food, I go in and out of. What I have come to realize is that it is important for me to take care of my mental, emotional and physical health in ways that I know are sustainable. I've come into yoga (love it) and continue to walk and listen to audio books or jamming to country music while jogging intermittently. That's taking care of my physical health in a sustainable way. It's a challenge to not self sabotage with my favorite foods, but if I remember that I am a collection of my daily choices, I make better choices. My emotional health is improved and sustained by writing, journaling and having strong, healthy relationships. My mental health is a combination of reading, reflecting and conversing with others about big ideas, so I make a point to read a minimum of 30 minutes every day and write reflections at least once per week, if not more. This blog sure helps!
Relationships are integral to our lives, on so many levels. I've spent so much of my life identifying with "introvert" that I have given myself permission to disengage, or worse yet, push people away because I didn't feel like being around their energy. What I have come into understanding, is that we all have our ways that we gain energy, and through self care, awareness and intention, there is no reason for me to disengage or push anyone away. I do love my alone time, and that's being honest with myself. I also love being around people who challenge my thinking, ideas, and gain energy by small groups and one-on-one interaction. I still don't love large crowds (think a Bruno Mars concert) or being around people who are closed off to differences in ideas and after every recital I need to take the next day off because I am emotionally drained. I may not like that about myself, but that's honesty and awareness. I love the performances, love the people, but I have a 'hangover' the next day. I plan for it!
We do the best that we can, in the moments of our daily lives. The narrative, or reinforcement of values is imperative for us to move forward and grow as individuals. Clarifying and regrouping has made me notice how I have grown into my core values more intensely than if I would have otherwise, by simply bobbling along.
What are your core values, and how do you keep them front and center in your daily decision making?