What Really Lights You Up?
“This above all. To thine own self be true,” says Shakespeare’s Polonius in Hamlet. Sounds easy enough but the truth is, living true to one’s self is actually quite difficult, especially when you don’t even know your self. For years I worked 9-5 jobs where deep down I felt unfulfilled and bored. I felt I wasn’t living up to my potential or making a real difference in the world and life felt really blah. I understand now it’s because I had no idea what my values were – what truly lights me up in life.
Now as a life coach one of the first things I do with my clients is help them discover their values as they are the guide-posts for living a happy and peaceful life. I’m not talking about moral values (or virtues) like integrity or honesty though they are important to know as well. I am talking about your personal values – the things in life that truly light you up. Because once you know what truly lights you up, and then start ensuring they are present in your life…you will feel happier, more confident, more motivated, and less anxious, less stress and less emptiness. Yes, it’s really that simple!
There are a ton of coaches out there helping people figure out their HEAD values. They get you to circle a bunch of values from a list and then prioritize them. This only helps you discover what you THINK your values SHOULD be. Family was often on this values list for me…but for many, including myself, it’s actually just a priority but not a personal value…and that’s OKAY! You may love your family to pieces, but they may not be one of the things that sparks joy and fulfillment in you.
I prefer to help people discover their HEART values – which are the things that they truly value that ACTUALLY lights them up. Here’s a quick an easy way to start figuring out your TRUE personal values.
Happy Times: Identify 2-3 happy times in your life (can be a moment of a period of time) when you felt joyful and life was good, or you were fully in the moment or flow. For each example, list what made it such an amazing time. What was happening? How were you feeling? Who was there?
Unhappy Times: Identify 2-3 unhappy times in your life and then life what made it such an unhappy time, what was happening? What was missing? What were you feeling? Who was there (or not there?)
Admiration: Identify 2-3 people you admire or are envious of, and why? What is it you admire or are envious of?
Next, look back on all of your answers. What was present during the happy times? What was absent during the unhappy times? What were the things you admired or were envious of in others? More than likely you’ll see recurring patterns emerge…these highlight your values. Write down the words or concepts that appear frequently in your answers and circle any you believe are your top values.
Plain and simple, these are what light you up in life. The big, important question – how present are they in your life now?
My unhappiest time in my life was when I returned from living for a year in Uganda and felt isolated and bored and didn’t know what I was doing in my life. I then discovered that my values were connection, service, community, adventure and freedom and understood why I was so depressed – not a single one of them was very present in my life.
I spent time working with a life coach, spent time volunteering abroad, and took serious action to change my life and now I am currently living a really happy life that I love, that fully reflects my values. What actions can you take to live in greater alignment with your values? I promise you’ll feel happier and more at peace with yourself the more present your values are.
If you would love to gain more clarity on your values or how to put them into action and start living a life of happiness like I did, book a chat with me here – I’d love to connect!