By imagining your ideal life – the things that would bring you joy, satisfaction and use your full potential – you have described a life that reflects what you value most.
Values are what is most important to you, what you most care about, what makes you tick. This is important because when we are living a life according to our values, we are leading a truly fulfilling life and feel an internal sense of ‘rightness.
Conversely, when we are living a life that dishonours those values – ignoring them, doing the opposite of what’s right for us (remember all the conditioning that causes this to happen?), then we feel things are ‘not right’ – something that is known as ‘dissonance’, an inner sense of disharmony.
When this goes on for a long time, or our values are dishonoured to extremes, anxiety, depression, anger, and potentially physical illness can result.
This is when clients come to me – when they feel a high degree of dissonance, and when they’ve had enough of feeling like this. They’ve typically tried several of the quick fixes I’ve already talked about, but none of them has worked, and their sense of unease has only increased.
When I did my coaching training in 2008 with CTI, clarifying my values was a huge revelation to me. It was also a bit of a shock, as it made me realize how my life wasn’t honouring my values and why I felt so lost and unhappy. My top values are
- deep connection;
- growth and discovery;
- nurture and altruism;
- beauty and excellence.
Of course, I didn’t even know what a value was back in my ‘previous life’ as I call it.
Reading this list out now explains my negative feelings about my life and work as a television producer.
‘I have learned that as long as I hold fast to my beliefs and values – and follow my own moral compass – then the only expectations I need to live up to are my own.’
Having started out as a local news reporter, I went on to produce many different documentaries. I absolutely loved my job and looking back at what I now know to be my values, I can see that my job was helping me to live most of them. I loved going into new environments and finding out about how they worked and theì people that lived in them (learning, growth and discovery); I loved meeting those people and encouraging them to share their stories (deep connection), and I really enjoyed the rest of the process of filming and piecing programmes together to create a story to be shared with others (beauty and excellence).
However, I began to have problems with other parts of the programme-making process and what I did for a living.
I worked on some programmes where the subject matter and the experiences I asked people to talk about on camera were very challenging: I was hearing stories about sexual abuse, drug addiction, rape, domestic abuse, suicide and even murder.
I started to struggle with the lack of aftercare offered to these people (nurture value), who we asked to share their innermost thoughts, feelings and heartache, and then just left them to it – as well as broadcasting their suffering to millions of people. Yes, they had agreed to all this, and yes, in many cases the experience of talking was a cathartic one. However, when the cameras stopped rolling, we literally packed up and left those people with everything they had just disclosed.
I vividly remember having interviewed a woman about the murder of her teenage son in a gang fight on her housing estate.
I really felt her pain; it had a visceral effect on me. At the end of the interview, I wanted to help her and said, ‘Let me know If you ever need anything,’ and she said, ‘Like what?’ Exactly – like what? There really wasn’t anything I could do – and for me, that was the problem.
I did not feel I was taking care of her in that situation and this did not square with my core value of nurture and altruism – I felt like I’d got what I wanted and I was just leaving
Need help redesigning your life + career? There are a few ways I can do that
- To get clear on what you do and don’t want in your life + career moving forward, get my book Change Your Life in 5 for free now (just pay P+P). Click here
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