Lighting one sparkler with another

Reflecting on the Past and Embracing the Future

In saying good-bye to 2019 and hello to 2020, it’s a nice time to reflect on your own personal growth and life fulfilment.

While most of us wish we were jumping up and down, rejoicing over our achievements and savouring our life enriching memories…In reality most of us are going:

“Woah, the year is over, say what? I haven’t done enough!”

If you’re left saying this, you’re not alone. It’s pretty easy to get swept away and consumed with the daily chug of life responsibilities. Perhaps you have spent most weeks working hard, and find your weekend is the only respite for some fun and leisure. Next minute, everyone is cheering “happy new year!” and you wonder:

  • What did I even do this year?
  • Why didn’t I do more fun things and be in the moment?
  • Why did I watch so much Netflix?

Unfortunately this experience is more the norm than not.

Most of us face pressure either at uni or work, which compounds our home and family life. Often we’re not left with a lot of time in the day to relax and chill with loved ones. And even, if we do have time, we may be exhausted and only be able to muster enough energy to press a few buttons on the tv remote. And just like that, the day has vanished!

So what’s missing in this “daily grind” approach to life?

In some ways, we’re all doing really well at ACHIEVING: We achieve a good education, establish a solid career and earn a decent income. But perhaps what most of us struggle with is incorporating activities or ways of living that sit with our values.

This may sound like a broad explanation to the “uneventful year” experience, but adding activities into life that are aligned to our values gives us a sense of purpose and meaning (read more in blog post – How Aligned to Your Values Are You?).

For most of us, the task of aligning your life to your values sounds overwhelming. Perhaps you’re not sure of how to start? Or, you may not be sure of what your values are?

An easy way to identify your values is to review 3 memories associated with a really positive emotion and ask yourself:

What values of mine were being met?

Common values include:

  • Respect
  • Adventure
  • Achievement
  • Purpose
  • Freedom
  • Love
  • Friendship
  • Honesty
  • Trust
  • Passion
  • Connection
  • Playfulness
  • Creativity
  • Kindness
  • Fairness
  • Justice
  • Empathy
  • Fun
  • Curiosity
  • Learning
  • Authenticity

Once you identify your values, you can start to plan. Usually, we have 3-4 core values, which represent what matters to us most in our life.

Often people make the mistake of assuming they need to overhaul their life to honour their values – for example, quit their job, move cities, end relationships. However, living a life according to your values is not about perfectly moulding everything to your values. Not only is that an almost impossible task, but it’s impractical. For example, your job might not perfectly represent your values, but you need to earn money to survive. So instead of trying to change EVERYTHING in your life, you can simply add some activities or plans that represent your values.

Using your values as a guide, choose a few activities connected with these values. For example, if you value friendship, plan some catch ups with friends. Or, if you value playfulness, make a point of being more cheeky with friends and family. In your planning it’s also important to ensure continuity, rather than planning one-off events.

It’s perhaps hard to imagine, but just by sprinkling a few value-based activities onto your week/month, you will feel more fulfilled and satisfied in your life.  Sure, it’s important to “achieve” some life milestones (e.g. finish uni degree, get “that” promotion, buy a house, etc), but let’s face it, most of us are already pretty focused on achieving! If you’re struggling with this aspect of planning, you may find it helpful to read blog post, Why Your New Year Resolutions Don’t Work?