STRONGER TOGETHER: Identifying values to spark a purposeful life

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"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya focuses on identifying individual values and setting boundaries.

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services' Managing Director

What are your values?

While the answer isn’t always clear, it is not impossible to find. If self-reflection is your map, honesty is a compass, and your values are the clues to leading a purposeful life.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Values are the things that you can’t assign to a metric. It’s what set your soul alight, how you want to spend your time, money, and energy.

Understanding what you value can be lost amid the hustle of work, relationship, and social responsibilities, but it is absolutely worth slowing down to identify.

Spending all your time at a job that you hate and is wearing you down but don’t actually know why, could be related to your values.

Your check engine light is on and it’s time to pull over and assess, don’t just turn the radio up.

There are various activities you can do to establish a baseline for your values. Some include grabbing yourself some Values cards and selecting words that are meaningful for you, sometimes you can find your values by assessing where you like to spend your time and money, who lifts you up when you spend time with them. Dr John Demartini structures values through various sections of life, including relationships, health and wellbeing, spiritual, finances and others.

Ultimately, through your own intuition you know what lifts you up and fills your cup. Socrates suggests that the secret of happiness is not in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less. This ‘less is more’ approach provides a beautiful opportunity to very deliberately surround ourselves with the people, places, objects and activities that are most aligned to our values.

Knowing the people, places, objects and activities that make us happy, removes the limits we place on ourselves when we say ‘yes’ to things when we really mean ‘no’.

When you identify your values it can be easier to choose the activity or in some cases, choose not to do something, because it is going to exhaust you in all the wrong ways: mentally, physically, emotionally and even socially.

Knowing your values comes back to listening to yourself about what you need in the present. Once you’ve got them, it’s also good to check in and tweak your values when necessary.

Setting boundaries and communicating your values when you establish them is a vital part in living a life that feels authentic, is driven by purpose and decisions are made based on how they serve you.

This level of authenticity can be met with some trepidation by yourself and even others.

Fears of being called selfish run deep, but you must put your own oxygen mask on first. You can’t help others if you cannot help yourself.

This fear is why communication is essential to establishing your boundaries and maintaining them.

When you articulate your needs and your values, the people who understand and respect you are going to respect your boundaries.

If you are met with an overwhelming amount of conflict rather than support, you need to assess whether that is someone that needs to remain in your circle or if you need to create some space.

When you start living authentically and doing activities that serve you, you will find the people who you take with you, or who join you on your journey are there for you and not just what you can do for them.

Taking time out to look at what’s important to you can take time, however the investment is totally worth it.

You may already know your values and not have to make any changes. Or, maybe you discover you could tweak something about your daily routine, work, habits to better align with what you value and how you want to spend your time.

Once you’ve established what you value, it can be easier to determine how you want to spend your time, but finding the right balance isn’t always easy.

Next week’s column we will focus on time management and procrastination.

Please note: This website may contain references to, or feature images, videos, and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have passed away.

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