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Get right to the core

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

Many people feel as if they're simply treading water in their life: they work hard and spend time making other people happy, but ultimately they feel unfulfilled, that something is missing from their lives. I have worked with a number of people who feel they've put their dreams and plans on hold and when I ask them why it transpires that they haven't really considered the bigger picture: what they want out of life, what's really important to them and what their personal goals are. Often they're just too busy meeting the demands of daily life, work and family responsibilities to focus on themselves.

While most of us don't have the luxury of being able to escape from daily life, does this mean we have to forego our own dreams and goals for the sake of others? No! I believe it's entirely possible to be hardworking, and kind and thoughtful to others while at the same time pursuing our own goals.

Often, the starting point for coaching is to work with a client to identify their goals. This is certainly an important step in any personal development, however I believe that there is an important issue that needs to be explored BEFORE any goals are set. And this first step involves understanding what really matters to you as an individual. Not what you think should matter to you, nor what other people think should matter, but what is truly important. These are your values.

Values are like anchors: they provide us with stability and security - something on which to base our goals and actions. When we understand what is truly important to us, and behave accordingly, we feel content, calm and in control. When we act against our values, this can lead to feelings of inner conflict and stress, which in turn will impact on our behaviour, our relationships and our work. It's the classic case of "I want to do X (I want to spend more time with my kids) but I have to do Y (I have to stay late at the office).

Here's a quick exercise you can do to identify your core values.

  1. Think about times in your life when you felt happiest, most fulfilled, most proud etc. Reflect back to where you were, what you were doing, who you were with.

  2. Identify any common themes: are there any particular values that seem to come up frequently in your reflections? Write these down.

  3. From that list, identify the five values that you feel at the most important to you. Can you now put these in order of importance? If it's difficult to decide, think about pairs of values and ask yourself which one you would sacrifice for the other.

  4. Now look at your top 5 priorities and reflect: how do these values make you feel when you think about them? Would you be proud to tell others that these are your values?

  5. Now that you've identified and checked your core values, think about how well you honour them in your daily life: what do you do which supports and reinforces these values? Are there any areas in your life where you feel you don’t honour them? What would you like to change so that you "live your values" on a daily basis?

Understanding your core values is not always easy, but it gives you a helpful framework within which to define your goals, make choices and decisions, and ultimately shape the direction of your life.

Joss Anderson is a qualified and experienced Shamanic Practitioner, Shamanic Reiki Master Practitioner and ICF-accredited coach, based in Cambridgeshire, UK and online

© Joss Anderson; © The Wild Edges, 2021

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