When I studied for my Coaching diploma, my class was asked to do a rather unusual “homework”. We were to ask ten of our friends what they saw as our best quality. The result was revealing: Seven out of my ten named my enthusiasm and ability to feel passionately about things.
While this is certainly a nice trait, it has its drawbacks, too. One of them is that being enthusiastic about everything also means that it’s really difficult to find time for all my passions. If you happen to be multi-passionate too, I’m sure you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about – a lot of the time you feel like you’ll never be able to master anything, because your attention is always scattered.
If you’ve been reading Monday Sparkles for a while, you’ll know some of the approaches I favour when dealing with multiple passions. One of them is to focus on just a few of them at a time, to avoid overwhelm. The same really goes for any types of decisions you might have to make, where you agonise over your options and have no idea which one to pick.
How about a simple litmus test to check any options against, that’ll make most decisions instantly crystal-clear? Sound good? I thought so.
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Who are you on the deepest level?
We are all products of our environment to an extent, of our upbringing, education, and the influence of our peers, among other factors. It’s not always easy to look beyond all of these and discover our true inner selves. So much of what we do is determined by our beliefs, which can change over the years.
However, there are some aspects of ourselves which don’t change. They make up the core of each person’s being, the invariable essence of their character. These are our values.
Values are unique to each person and there are literally hundreds of them. To get you started, I’ve found a handy list for you on the internet. Here’s how you use it:
Scan the list and mark down or circle (if you’ve printed it; otherwise, write it down) any values that jump out to you, any you can relate to. Once you’ve got your shortlist, go through it again and eliminate any that seem less important than the others. It doesn’t mean they aren’t your values, it just means they aren’t as near to the top.
Feel free to add values that aren’t on the list, but are important to you. Keep eliminating and narrowing them down until you’re left with your five top values.
From values to decisions
Once you’ve got your values, look over them one more time and think of what each of these mean to you in your life. If you’ve done this exercise from the heart and your intuition, you’ve now got a highly accurate list of values which represent who you truly are (and if you haven’t, you can always do it over).
I suggest you keep this list, because it’s a very handy “barometer” to keep close whenever you need to make decisions, or indeed when you feel stressed or pressurised and in danger of losing yourself in other people’s demands.
The test is very easy. Say you have about six different passions you’d love to pursue. Check each of them against your core values. Which one is aligned with the highest number of values, or is aligned most closely? Take your pick from those and focus on two or three passions at this time. You can always come back to the others whenever you have spare time or feel like a change.
Any decision can be made using this test, but its uses are more far-reaching than this. Basically, your entire life should be an expression of yourself and therefore, of your core values. If you find yourself very unhappy in a job, check your values. You may find that the work you do has nothing whatsoever of your values in it, or worse, that it goes against one of your values altogether. These are huge red flags and a sign that you may want to rethink your career.
True to yourself
Personal happiness is of course a very subjective feeling, but a large part of it is that we like ourselves and what we do. The more radically you align your life with your values, the higher are the chances that you’ll feel happy with yourself.
Try it! It’s a wonderfully direct way to eliminate the noise around every decision and action, and focus on what truly matters.