There are a lot of statistics floating around that suggest up to 80 percent of the workforce are unhappy in their work, but if you look at society as a whole, especially in westernised countries, I'm sure that you will find high numbers of populations unhappy with their lives in general. Why is this?
I believe that for many, it's because our lives are not in sync with our true values. We live in a time when consumerism is rife. Many of us are stuck in jobs that we don't like just so that we can pay the bills and keep on buying stuff that we really don't need. We often learn this style of living from our parents or just fall into it after graduating from college or university and soon it becomes a habit.
What if we were taught how to live an intentional life as an alternative to cruising along on auto pilot? Living an intentional or purposeful life means living by our values and not everyone else's.
Values that make us feel grateful to be alive.
Values such as health, family, relationships with people important to us, connecting with nature, doing work that is satisfying and has a sense of purpose, having plenty of personal time, being free to express ourselves through our hobbies, work or community projects. This is real wealth.
As we get older and experience more, we get to better understand what our true values are. It's life experiences that help us grow as individuals. If we are living a life that is not aligned with our values, then we won't be truly happy, we can't be.
So where do we start? First of all I suggest writing down 50 goals that you would like to achieve over the next 5 years. Once you have done this then start categorising these goals into groups associated to values. For example; 1. Developing a better relationship with your 13 year old daughter could come under the value of family or important relationships, 2.Developing your rock climbing skills to attain the grade of 23 could come under Health. 3. Learning how to cook Thai food could come under the value of self expression. You may have a longer term goal such as paying your mortgage off, cut it down to a 5 year goal which could be paying $50,000 off your mortgage. That could come under the value of security.
Whilst writing your list of 50 goals, consider such things as where you wish to live?, what type of friends you want to spend time with?, who are the important people in your life? what relationships do you wish to develop? what interests and hobbies do you wish to pursue? what are the activities that bring you most joy? what are your financial goals?, what new skills do you wish to learn?, what health or fitness milestones do you want to attain?, what personal characteristics do you wish to develop?, what type of work would you like to gain experience in?, what new cultural events would you like to experience?, what type of family experiences would you like to provide?, which countries would you like to visit? what type of adventures would you like to go on?, what type of books do you want to read?, what type of things would you like to create or build?
The important point is that for every goal you write down, ask yourself why you wish to attain that goal. During this exercise you may find that some of your goals are not aligned with your true values. It's then time to decide whether you still wish to pursue them, otherwise you will be climbing a ladder which has been placed on the incorrect wall, and that's never a good feeling.
I recently read an article about a young couple in their 20's who were one week away from signing up to purchase a home. They decided to go through an exercise similar to this and realised that buying a home did not fit with their core values. They didn't buy the home, but instead joined a peace corp where they helped people in underprivileged countries for a while and ended up travelling the world whilst running an internet business which they set up whilst on the go. They are now in their 30's and still loving this life.
So many of us follow the path that our parents took, or rely on what the guidance counsellor at school suggested, but so often this guidance is not based on our values, but more on our subject choices at high school or our strengths in certain areas.
When I think back to my parents era, my dad worked for the same employer for 40 years. Was his choice of work based on his values? No it wasn't. It was solely based on developing a career which would ultimately provide for his family. We are so fortunate today that we are free to pursue so many more choices than our parents were, I know that gaining a formal education is more expensive, but with the internet we also have so many more opportunities to learn new skills. Over the past year I have completed online study courses in Digital Marketing and Social Media Marketing for the grand cost of just $5.
You may dream of one day having your own counselling practice. In order to do this you will need to complete lengthy qualifications and gain the relevant registration. For some this may seem too hard so they forgo this dream and get into work which doesn't fulfil them. This person needs to assess why they wish to become a counsellor. Why do they want their own practice? Maybe they have gone through challenges in their own lives and now wish to help others make it through similar challenges, or maybe they feel a need to give back and care for others. Maybe their reason is they wish to extend themselves through study or feel that being a counsellor will provide them with an income or a lifestyle greater than what they currently enjoy.
It's important they figure out their why as the answer will provide them with a reason to either pursue their dream at whatever cost or maybe look at other alternatives which also line up with their values. If they want to help others, then helping out at the local thrift shop or animal shelter twice a week may provide them with an enjoyable alternative. Joining a peace corp such as the couple mentioned above could also fit the bill.
I hope this has been helpful. I know it's never easy living life according to your values, as so many other distractions tend to get in the way, but ultimately I believe that if you are able to pull it off, then you will live a much happier life which will also have a positive impact on those closest to you.
If you have any queries regarding this post, please feel free to contact me in the comments section below or through my contact page.
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