A non-boring way to figure out what's important to you

I've taken a few weeks off from posting here. I let some unexpected scheduling conflicts throw my calendar into chaos. As a result, I didn't prioritize time to spend on writing.

In the grand scheme of things, it's not the end of the world. But I still felt like I let myself down. I enjoy sharing here. It’s also a commitment I made to myself and it didn’t feel good to break that commitment.

It's been an important reminder that the way we design our lives - the goals we set for ourselves, how we spend our time, the items on our to-do list and our calendars - all come back to our values. If your everyday actions are in line with your values, I'm waging there's a good chance you are going to feel happier, more fulfilled, more inspired, than if you're not.

This has been even more important for me to remember as a working mom, when there’s always 1,284,928 things competing for my attention at any given moment. Excuse me for a second while I stop my son from sticking a fork in that outlet...

Where was I...Oh right. Values. A lot of us don’t know what our values are. Or we give bland, broad, standard answers if we’re ever asked about them. “I want to be happy” is not a value. Of course you want to be happy. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t want to be happy. Your values are also not what someone else tells you is important. They are not what is 'expected' of you. 

Your values are yours and yours alone to define. They are the principles and characteristics that you use to design your life so you can feel how you want to feel, which yes, may be “happy”, or it may be “creatively inspired”, “energetic”, “vibrant”, “gutsy”, “hilarious”. You get the picture.

If you're not sure what your values are, luckily for you, there’s a very simple exercise that can help you pinpoint them. I’ve done a ton of values exercises over the years and I like this one the best. Here’s how it goes:

Your Awesome Dinner Party

Imagine you are preparing to host an amazing dinner party. You’ve got great food, drinks and music. You’ve even broken out your good china. Score! But the most important parts of your dinner party are the guests. Who are you going to invite to this epic occasion? Take a few minutes and write down the answers to the two questions below:

Maybe don't invite some of these people to your dinner party....just a thought.  ( Image via rollingstone.com)

Maybe don't invite some of these people to your dinner party....just a thought. (Image via rollingstone.com)

  1. Write down the names of at least five people who you want to invite. The sky's the limit. They can be people you know, people you don’t, living, dead, imaginary, whatever you want. Who are the people that inspire you who would make this the best damn dinner party ever?

  2. Alongside each guest's name, identify one quality that makes them special. Get specific. What is it about your guest that you think is awesome, that you want more of in your life? (Ex: Michelle Obama = Super Classy)

  3. OK, now look at your results. These are your core values.

Cool, huh?

Bonus question: Take a look at what’s working in your life right now and what’s not (be honest). How is what you are doing aligned with the values you identified above?

So the next time you’re evaluating a decision, forming a plan, deliberating over a next step, pause to think of how it aligns with your values. The more in touch we are with our values, the easier it is for us to act accordingly and thereby create the results we want for ourselves. The stronger you are in your values, the more confident you can be in your decisions.

So if you’ll excuse me, I have a dinner party to get to.

If you want to dig even deeper into your values and learn how to use them to make changes in your life, sign up for a free 30-minute mini-strategy session here.