Values: Your Secret Weapon to Finding Fulfilment.
Values are your secret weapon to finding fulfilment
I trained as a coach in 2009, and from that moment on I felt like I was walking around with a secret weapon.
This weapon has the power to destroy boredom, frustration, self doubt, overwhelm, confusion and many other negative emotions that quite simply got in my way.
It’s not really even that secret because we all know about it, but it hides in plain sight.
What is it?
Our mind. The single biggest influencer over the life we want to have.
It’s not the work we do, or the people around us, it’s our mind.
Yes, you might have a terrible line manager or have been born into a family that don’t deserve you, but when you can master your mindset, you can start to create the experience of life that you want. You get to take back control (not a Brexit reference I promise!)
I’m not going to make wild claims here that coaching is a ‘fix all’ (to start with, no-one is broken, therefore no fixing required), but I am saying that coaching introduces us to greater awareness. This awareness gives us choice, and it’s through choice that we get control.
One of the simplest yet most impactful pieces of work I do in coaching is in helping clients to understand their values.
Knowing our values helps us to appreciate why we react the way we do and helps us to interrupt unconscious patterns of behaviour. When we are able to stop ourselves before we react we have the chance to make different choices. It’s through these different choices that we get different results.
When we know our values we can proactively seek happiness, fulfilment, satisfaction, joy, passion – it’s not a search in the dark, it’s a proactive, targeted, conscious decision making process that brings the life we want. And it’s so simple, it’s almost criminal that so many people walk around not even knowing that they have values.
Here’s me before I knew about my values:
Me – I’m going to head out for a run tonight, ok? (BTW, the reason I’m checking is because we have 3 mini humans that must be supervised at all times!)
Husband – No sorry, I’m going to Ju Jitsu, it’s in the diary.
Me (silent, internal dialogue, passive aggressive, monster) – Oh typical, just because you’ve got it in the diary means that you get to have it your way does it? How dare you? Aren’t my needs important? I’m the one that’s been slogging my guts out all day…..blah blah blah.
I go from calm to possessed in the blink of an eye.
My ability to think rationally or logically goes out of the window.
I behave like a child and I waste my energy on something that means very little. I’d also stay in that state and it would infect everything I did until it wore off (which usually meant sleeping on it)
Here’s me after knowing my values
Me – I’m going to head out for a run tonight ok?
Husband – No sorry, I’m going to Ju Jitsu, it’s in the diary
Me – (recognise the flurry of anger swelling inside, know that one of my values has been triggered and now have more choices available) “oh dammit, I completely forgot, what time are you back?
Husband – about 9
Me – Ok, that’s a bit late, I’ll go tomorrow, anything planned for then?
Husband – No that’s fine. I’ll be home by 6
Me- Great I’ll head out then.
I feel slightly annoyed at myself for not checking the diary but I move quickly to options and finish in a place where I’m happy and my needs are being met.
I’ve bypassed feeling unappreciated, dodged a potential conflict, avoided negative emotion and instead I’m feeling good.
This was all possible because I had awareness.
The value at play here is freedom.
For me, freedom is one of my biggest drivers, it’s why I do what I do and it flows into everything about the way I live my life.
Our most important, highest ranking values will be influencing our relationships and decisions every day.
They affect the quality of the relationships we have with people AND they influence how people experience us.
When we live a life knowing what our values are, it’s easy to have our needs met and to consciously influence what we want, so we feel fulfilled. I recognise my need for freedom and so I proactively manage it. I can’t expect others to do that for me.
If we have no idea what our values are then we will regularly find ourselves in situations where we feel negative emotions such as anger, fear, sadness, hurt, guilt and shame or we make decisions that take us away from our values.
Our values help us to nurture what is positive about our personality.
Without this knowledge we risk indulging in what is less attractive.
There’s 2 ways to get our needs met right?
The unproductive way which involves behaviours such as sulking, shouting, moaning – think passive aggressive or aggressive, or the productive way which is about proactively managing our needs, speaking up for what our needs are, making choices that move us closer to having our needs met, and where necessary using an ‘adult, assertive’ style of communication.
So what are your values?
Do you know?
How might you find out?
Well, I offer a £99 one off coaching session for discovering and understanding your values. In my opinion, working with someone to discover and understand your values is quicker and easier than trying to discover them for yourself. If you’re time poor and want to be clear on your values then please drop your details in this link and let’s set up a session.
If you’d rather have a go yourself, here are 3 quick tips for discovering your values and understanding how they influence you on a day to day basis.
1. What’s important to you?
Quite simply, what’s important to you? What do you need in order to feel fulfilled? Here’s some examples: Recognition, belonging, connection, learning, achievement, progression, security, safety, power, love, freedom, fun.
Write down everything that you can think of that’s important to you.
2. What’s happening when you experience negative emotion?
When you experience boredom, frustration, anger, hurt etc, it’s often because one or many of your values are unfulfilled and the size of the emotion you feel can give a clue as to the importance of the value.
Do you get angry every time your hard work goes unrecognised?
Perhaps you feel hurt when your partner spends 3 hours on the phone to their friend/sibling when it’s your only night off?
Do you feel unappreciated by your colleagues at work when you’re working through your lunch break to hit a deadline and they’re bouncing out the door at 12.30 for lunch?
These scenarios above might point to values such as recognition, appreciation, connection, belonging not being met.
What ‘sets you off’? There’s almost certainly a value at play.
3. What’s happening when you are at you most engaged/ motivated?
We’ve all had those times when we’ve been happy, engaged, motivated and full of life. I think many people call it ‘flow’. A time when everything just seems to be going your way.
It’s not by luck or accident, it’s because your values are being met. So, think back to a time when you’ve been really motivated and engaged. What was happening that gave you that sense of motivation/engagement?
Answer these 3 questions and you’ll be on your way to clarifying your values. If you want to fast track your awareness of your values, remember you can do that here