How to Love Life and Regret Nothing by… Finding Your Values

Howdy!

Welcome to the second post in the series breaking down Scott Dinsmore’s epic TED talk “How to Find and Do Work You Love”.

In his research, Scott found 3 steps we can all take to finding the “work we can’t not do.”

In the last post, we talked about strengths and weaknesses, and how to use them to make you a goal-achieving beast, and an all-round stronger person.

This time, it’s values.

Values… the roots holding the tree of life strong.

Values… the gems our hearts treasure most.

Values… the directions on our heart’s compass.

Values… I’m running out of metaphors now.

So. Why is finding our values so damn important? And how can they help us find and do work we love?

Let’s go.

Wait, what actually is a “Value”?

A value is something that’s important to YOU, in YOUR life.

It’s a principle or standard of behaviour that you live your life by.

Values reflect who we are at home, at work and in relationships.

Check out a massive list here.

 

With so many different values, is it surprising we’re all different?

Why You NEED to Find your Values

Straight off the bat;

  • Makes goals WAY easier to accomplish.
  • Life satisfaction.
  • Make happier decisions..
  • Allows you to be consistent in life.

Makes Goals “Easier” to Accomplish.

“Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance.” Brian Tracy

Or, if you’re goals aren’t aligned with your values, it’s like having a massive engine in a car, but no traction in the tyres – you just wheel spin.

But when your goals are in perfect harmony with your values? When your goals are the essence of YOU? When your goals embody who you are? And working towards them satisfies your heart’s deepest desires?

Then you’re on the road to success my friends. Period.

Instead of undermining your efforts, your subconscious mind will work with you.

For example, your goal might be to become a lawyer. But why do you want to become a lawyer?

Is this goal really aligned with your heart’s desires?

Your values might be justice, fairness, contribution to society and wealth. In which case, becoming a lawyer is a great call.

But what if your values are nature, conservation, energy and family?

Well, you’re giving yourself the shaft. Becoming a lawyer will have you in the office, working long work-weeks, and leave you little time to bird-watch, volunteer with the RSPB and do things with your family.

Is this an extreme case? Well, yes. Is this a common case? Yes.

Honestly, how many people do you know that are just “in it for the money?”

They take jobs and embark on careers that have no meaning to them, and are in a constant battle between head and heart, or brain vs. values.

Perhaps this is what Henry David Thoreau meant when he said;

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”

My friend and I had a discussion about doing what we love vs. staying in, or taking a, job where our heart’s not in it.

He argued that you should be willing to work a career that you don’t enjoy, that has no meaning to you, because you’re doing your bit for society.

But I say it’s your responsibility to find your heart’s calling, because then you can provide and contribute to your friends, family and society with the greatest energy, and enthusiasm and passion.

In Scott’s talk, he imagined a world where instead of 80% of people hate what they did, 80% of people LOVED what they did.

Imagine that world. I bet contribution to society would be WAY better off. You and I would be better off too, because we’re doing what we love, which leads to…

Life Satisfaction

Imagine how satisfied and fulfilled you’d be, if you were doing something every single day that you fully believed in?

Imagine how easy it would be to get out of bed every day, and how easy it would be to fall asleep at night, and how easy it would be to be yourself around the people you care about?

Do you know anyone like this? They’re doing something that so perfectly aligns with their heart, that their presence in the room just screams out “I LOVE LIFE!”

Knowing your values, and your hearts deepest desires allows you to make decisions based on what will give you the most satisfaction in life.

Ever made a decision, and immediately afterwards, you knew you made the wrong call?

And you felt horrible?

That’s what happens when you ignore your values and your heart, and let the head do all the talking.

In my 5th year in High School, I went on a 1-month expedition to Madagascar with people from school. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, and it taught me a valuable lesson…

On the expedition, choices kept popping up, like;

“Do you want to go find a hidden waterfall pool, or stay on the bus?” “Do you want to swim in the ice-cold river, or just leave it?” “Do you want to go explore the tropical island, or just sun-bathe instead?”

Basically, do you want to take the courageous/adventurous decision and make the most out of this trip, or play it safe, and just “relax” with the comfort of what you know?

At the time, courage and adventure were way up on my list of values. Making the most out of any opportunity was extremely important to me.

So, throughout the trip, me and 2 other guys took decisions to go all-out, and make the absolute most of Madagascar.

Then came the time to leave. En-route to London we had an 8 hour waited in Mauritius airport, before catching our next flight to Heathrow.

Background: Mauritius is basically a tropical island paradise, complete with white sandy beaches and palm trees.

The group had 2 choices: play it safe and chill in the airport until our next flight, or make the effort to go to the beach, relax there, come back, and then catch the flight.

We had a vote. And unlike my 2 friends, I voted for the safe option. My reasoning; everyone was a little tired, and I couldn’t really be bothered.

Result? The group voted to stay in the airport, avoiding the white tropical sands of Mauritius.

So, we went through security, and I sat down with my 2 friends. I felt horrible. What had I just done? If I’d voted the other way, we’d be sitting on a white sandy beach right now.

And right way, I said “Boys, what the hell was I thinking?” And honestly, for the next 4 days, I felt like the entire 1-month trip had been a waste of time, JUST because of that 1 decision. I felt absolutely horrible, and really hated myself for this decision.

If I’d followed my heart, and gone with my values, I would’ve taken the courageous/adventurous decision, and it would’ve been the perfect cherry on a delicious Madagascan cake.

But I went with my head, and the voice of reason, and yeah, I felt like I’d sold my soul.

And this is just a petty decision at the end of a trip, of how to spend 8 hours. 8 hours! Imagine if you make the wrong call on a decision costing 10 or even 20 years of your life?

Imagine how awful you’re gonna feel after that.

At this point, I’d like to share one of my favourite videos of all-time, by Elliott Hulse, titled the “Dangerous Journey of Following Your Heart”

Pretty cool, huh?

Elliott doesn’t specifically speak about values in the video, it’s more of head vs. heart.

But I’d argue that your values and the heart are one and the same. Your values are what the heart treasures most. Making decisions based on your core values IS following your heart. So…

Knowing your values allows you to follow your heart. And following your heart leads to highest fulfilment and life satisfaction.

Because ultimately, following your heart is what will make you happy in life.

In my 21 earthling years, whenever I’ve followed my heart, it’s led to some incredible experiences.

At 2nd year of university, I absolutely loved cooking.  (I study physics). Like, I was absolutely OBSESSED with cooking. My life revolved around cooking, watching cooking programmes, cook books, trying recipes….

In my heart, I was to become a chef.

So, that summer, I got a job working for 3 months as a chef in a restaurant. It was awesome. And it was tough.

The food was incredible, the work was rewarding, but I’m not planning to go back into the kitchen again, because I realised afterwards that I loved working with food, and loved socialising around food, but don’t want the unsociable hours of a chef.

So, my heart was satisfied, and I happily returned to physics.

Now what if I hadn’t worked in the kitchen? Perhaps I’d still have this gnawing inside of me, this little voice saying “Become a chef. Become a chef.” Which would make doing physics unbearable.

Maybe 30 years down the line, that same voice would be saying “Why didn’t you become a chef?”

How unbearable would that be?

While studying abroad in Canada, I adopted a new definition of success;

You can take away a successful person’s money and connections, and place them in an unknown city anywhere in the world. Within a year, they’ll make it all back again.Why? Because success is the character you develop and the skills you learn along the way, not the money you’ve earned.

So, instead of getting a sensible physics-related internship, I went to Madrid when my courses finished.

With broken Spanish, 2 small bags, 400 euros and 2 nights booked in a hostel, without a place to live or a job, it truly was sink or swim time.

Long story short, I found somewhere to live, and after some intense Spanish self-study in the public library, I managed to land a sweet journalism internship working for a mobile application.

The job was just awesome, I made incredible friends, and life in Madrid was phenomenal.

I had the summer of my life. By following my heart, and my values.

And the funny thing? I came with a passion for learning what it takes to succeed in Spain (speaking Spanish), and I left with a passion for writing, which is why I’m writing this blog to you now.

Funny that, eh?

So…

How do we find our values?

Good question.

Here’s what you’re going to do;

Read the process, know what you have to think about, then go for a 1-2 hour walk. When you’ve had a chance to mull things over, find somewhere to sit, and write down your values.

So, without further ado:

 

  1. Think of the times when you were happiest.

What were you doing? Were you with other people? Who?

  1. Think of the times when you were most proud.

Why did you feel proud? Who were you with? Was it a shared feeling?

  1. Think of the times when you were the most fulfilled and satisfied with your life.

You know, that “this is the best day ever” feeling. What need was fulfilled? Who were you with? How and why did these experiences give your life meaning?

 

So again, go for a walk and do this over 1-2 hours. You’ll get far better results.

…..

Done that?

  1. Choose 7 values from this almighty list of values.

What do you truly value the most?

  1. Now, ask yourself, what value could you live without? Remove 1 value at a time, until you’re left with 3.

These 3 values are your “fundamental values”, whereas the 4 you removed are your “secondary values”.

 

Then…

  1. Write down your goals, and then compare them with a list of your values. Are they aligned? Or are you setting yourself up for failure?

If they’re not aligned, then it’s time to either change your goal, or change your mind-set to take on new values.

 

Now What?

Purposefully remind yourself of your values.

Write them on an A4 or A3 bit of paper, make a snazzy poster of it, and stick it on your wall, so that you see it every day.  Live your life by embodying these values.

Make decisions by trusting your values, and follow your heart.

Find that work that you can’t not do.

Takeaway: Why Your Values are so Damn Important

A value is a principle or standard that we live by. It’s what our heart treasures the most.

Here’s why knowing your values are important;

  1. Align your goals with your values. Make sure you’re not spinning your wheels. Aligned goals and values make life run smoothly. If there’s no enemy within, then the enemy outside may do us no harm.
  2. Life satisfaction and fulfilment. Embodying your values and doing your heart’s calling… isn’t that what life’s all about?
  3. To follow your heart, know you values. If you know what your heart wants, then you can follow it.

So, spend a couple of hours while you’re out walking going through the steps to finding your values.

Think of the times you were most happy, proud, then satisfied, and reflect on why. Pick out your values, and then compare them with your current goals.

Congratulations. You’re one step closer to doing the work you can’t not do.

What do you think about following your heart? What’s your thoughts on Elliott’s video? Join the discussion in our facebook group!

 

Dream Big Start Small!

Love you all,

Iain

 


 

Resources:

 

Book: Abriendo Caminos by R.L Adams

http://www.startofhappiness.com/understanding-your-values-part-1/