On Saturday (and Monday, and Tuesday), I’ll get up to speak to a bunch of college kids, who’ll sit in the same seats I once sat in, over ten years ago. We’ll have a common “starting point,” and I’ll tell them the story of what came after those seats, for me.
I’ll tell them about the path I went down, and how I thought – I assumed – it was what I wanted. I’ll tell them how I wandered off that trail, and went searching for a road map - not to get back, but to find a new trail. I just wanted something or someone to inform my decisions, a guide to get me to where I wanted to go.
And then I’ll tell them how I found the compass.
Prior to this, if you'd asked me to list my values, I would have struggled. I had never thought about it, certainly never tried to sit down and write them out before I arrived at the retreat. I hadn't thought about why I look up to some people, but don't respect others (although some are obvious. unrelated: did you catch the debate tonight?). I never examined the relationship between how I spend my time - how I show up in the world - and what my values are.
To help them find their own GPS systems, I'll ask the students what’s important to them. I'll tell them to start by finding their mentors, to notice who they look up to, who they aspire to be more like, whose shoes they’d love to step into someday. To consider what values these people embody, that they feel so much respect for.
Ironically enough, a couple of college-aged yogis came up to me after class last night to ask about life coaching, and they asked who I follow. One mentor that came to mind was Marie Forleo – because she’s a badass Italian Jersey girl with a successful business, which happens to empower others to start their own businesses (aka follow their dreams). She’s funny, unapologetically herself, a lover of hip hop, and she’s the creator and host of Marie TV, where she hosts interviews with other inspiring people.
I happened to watch one of those interviews when I got home from the studio - trying to work on my speech, I decided I could use a little inspiration-break to catch the latest episode. It was an incredibly powerful interview with Seth Godin.
And just like that, I found another person I look up to; someone who’s values I can consider to help me strengthen my own. What is it about him I resonated with so much?
As I considered my new inspiration, a flood of others came to mind: Brene Brown. Elizabeth Gilbert. Ellen Degeneres. Mike Dooley. The Minimalists. Stacy London. The Fitness Marshall. Glennon Doyle Melton...
I can see my values in my yoga teachers. My friends. My first life coach. My second life coach. Not to mention a few of my past professors, who I’m very excited to reconnect with next week.
In the age of “likes” and “follows,” it’s easier than ever to see who it is we admire. They don’t all have to be in the line of work you want to be in; your aim is not to become their carbon copy. I don’t want to BE any of those I listed above, but if I told you what I really love about each of them, you’d find a list of my values, a mish-mosh that is uniquely me.
Start by noticing who you feel inspired by, and begin to identify what it is you admire about them. Is it their sense of humor? Compassion? Dedication to health and fitness? Self care? Family values? Honesty? Humility? Intelligence and curiosity? Is it their sense of style and confidence? Their relentless belief in the universe? Their fearless creativity?
How can YOU embody these traits? How can you bring them into your life more? How can you stop waiting and take ownership over your actions and the way you present yourself to the world? How can every decision you make, large and small, be aligned with your values?
This is how you find your best life; whether your dream is a big house and a loving spouse and a bunch of kids running around (values: family, home, stability, companionship), or it’s living out of a backpack and traveling the world and never settling down (values: independence, adventure, minimalism, freedom) - or something in between - you can build a life you love, just by following that compass.
What values do you already embody that you feel proud of? Which ones do you want to incorporate into your life more?
Want some help identifying your values and figuring out how they fit into your life? Set up a call to see how working together can clear the unimportant stuff, figure out what matters, and start building a life that fulfills you.
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