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Want to Do More of What You Love? Let Your Personal Values Guide You


pink and black journals next to a gold pen
Let your values guide you

The end of a year or season feels like a natural time to reflect. We can hopefully pause and take stock of our highs, lows, dreams fulfilled, how we felt, and unfinished business that doesn’t only center around doing but being.


I’m not trying to create another stressful to-do item. I promise. Rather, it’s about making space for you and the things that matter in your life.


I’ve been measuring a life well-lived differently these days: my blood pressure numbers, walks taken, girls trips experienced, hugs given and received, and thank yous from people I’ve forever impacted.

For the past few years, I’ve attended a virtual retreat of sorts with other women who reflect on the previous year to gently and purposefully consider what we want and don’t want going forward. I’m at a place mentally where my time, peace and a calm nervous system bring me more fulfillment than the pursuit of things or a position. I’m not resume-building the way I was in my 20s. I realize that a healthy and vibrant Nicole is one of the greatest gifts I can give to myself and others.


That means the way I think about using my talents, time and creativity, how I hone my craft, and how I manage the margins of my life are constantly evolving as I change and my value system matures with wisdom.


I’m writing this blog post as an invitation for us to begin reflecting on what has mattered most to us this past year and how we can protect those sacred practices now and into the new year. I also created a My Value Tracker worksheet at the end of this blog post to guide you.


Let’s start by identifying what you value.

There are different books and tests and exercises to help us identify what we value. One simple way I’ve come to define my personal values and what I value is this:


My values are the deeply held beliefs that guide my actions, words and choices. In practice, what or whom I value is often indicated by where I spend my time, energy and focus.


This is where we get honest with ourselves. What are the habits, routines and behaviors expressed most often in my life? What are the beliefs I hold that fuel those actions? Where do I spend most of my time, talents and energy? And with whom?


Answering these questions, or even pondering them, allows us to be real with ourselves about what we truly value and not what we aspire to value. It’s one thing to desire a certain value, but it’s another to live it. Do we always get it right? No. But true change can only come through honest assessments about where we are, where we any to be, and the space between.


Based on your responses to the questions I posed, what are 3-5 values that you hold? Betterup.com has a short list of 20 values to get you thinking if you feel stuck. It includes things like family, wellbeing, flexibility and assertiveness.


With those values in mind, start creating a short list of memorable experiences that correspond with those values.

If family is something you value, perhaps gatherings and outings are things you jot down. Or if wellbeing or wellness is a value, maybe miles walked or vacation time taken are memorable experiences you want to reflect on.


Using your values and memorable moments tied to those values, you can take stock of the ways that you replenished your cup by aligning your time, energy and focus to what matters most.


Most of us may not be documenting these moments throughout the year, but you’ll be surprised what you recall after scrolling your phone for past photos, looking at your calendar and browsing your smart watch for data. And even if you don’t capture it all, there is so much joy and richness in remembering all the ways you invested in yourself and your happiness.


I created a My Value Tracker worksheet to help you get started with the exercise I described above. And if you have the energy to list just your values, do that. Or if you can complete one value, experience and metric, do that instead. The goal here isn't perfection or even completion. It's about you rediscovering how you made time to invest in what you value. Cheers to you, my friend. Be well.

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