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Values as a Verb: How to live a life aligned with our values

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What we need to do, act and feel to enjoy the sense of fulfilment and the richness in life that comes from living aligned with our values.

Values are unique to each of use. They bring meaning to our values and help us answer the question: what really matters to me and what kind of person do I want to be? What do I want to stand for?

Values aren’t goals. Goals are things that can be achieved, ticked off a list. Values, on the other hand, are ongoing.

There are many ways to start clarifying what your own unique set of values are. Your values are unique to you and it is worth pondering what matters to you.

We can be easily persuaded to fill our day with important and busy work…but if it doesn’t align with our values, we will find ourselves exhausted at the end of the day, and missing that sense of satisfaction and fulfilment that comes when our actions align with our values.

I was recently reminded that listing out values is not enough. Values really need to be like a verb, a doing word.

Values require action—we need to do, act and feel, to enjoy the sense of fulfilment and the richness in life that comes from living aligned with our values.

So how do I make the leap from a list of values to the embodied action of living my values? Here are four steps you can start with.

Identify an action that is aligned with your values

What can you do that feels sweet and aligned with your values? Perhaps it’s going to bed early for self-care or making time to catch up with a friend for connection.

Tip: be suspicious of actions that include “should” statements—is this your value or a societal expectation you have adopted? Spoiler alert, it’s okay to ignore the latter.

Notice resistance, in the form of feelings and thoughts

When we start to do things that have meaning for us, sometimes difficult thoughts and feelings can come up.

Don’t deny these. Instead, turn towards them and kindly recognise these feelings are totally valid and are part of you as a complex and imperfect human (see here for more on self-compassion).

Connect with the meaning of the value behind the action

This is a reminder of why this action is important to you. It helps you tap into a deep strength that can sit beside the feeling of discomfort.

Then choose to act

You always have a choice. Being aware of how to reconnect with your values will empower you to make more meaningful choices for a deep sense of fulfilment and a rich life.

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