What are your values?

February 1, 2016
what are your values

Let’s talk for a minute about values. You might have heard the term bandied around by coaches, in self-help books, or even at work. But still a lot of people either aren’t fully clear on what ‘values’ really are, or can’t clearly articulate their own highest values. Knowing your values and living in alignment with them is critical to a life that is happy, meaningful and fulfilling so it’s worth you spending some time on this.

So… what are values?

Simply put, your values are what you consider to be most important – in life, at work, or in relationships. Some examples of one’s core values might be wealth, freedom, faith, adventure, self-discipline, health, equality or family.

Values aren’t goals as they don’t have an end point. Rather, values guide the direction of your life, inform the decisions you make, and ideally will influence your vision and goals because setting a goal that isn’t aligned with your values isn’t going to get much traction.

Personal Values quota by Roy Disney

If I showed you a list of values you’d identify many of them as being important to you because we all consider many things to be important in our lives. The key is being able to drill down and determine the one or two HIGHEST values in your life. It can be challenging to narrow them down like this but there’s a powerful clarity that comes from doing so. This is what you stand for and what you’ll be remembered for. Values are that important. Before I get you to dive into your own values, I want to make a couple of important points:

  • There are no right or wrong answers here. Try not to get caught up in what you think your values ‘should’ be.
  • Be honest with yourself. If you say that physical health is an important value but your daily behaviour patterns do not include healthful choices, is it because you’re acting out of alignment with your values (trust me, you’ll know that in your gut) or because actually physical health is really not the most important thing to you? Remember – there’s no right or wrong!

So if you’re ready to take some time to explore your own highest values, feel free to download this Values List to give you some inspiration. Take some time with it. Get your top 10. Then narrow down to five. And if possible, get it down even further to two (or three). And when you’ve taken some time to reflect and decide on what’s most important to you, ask yourself….

  • Are the choices I’m making today consistent with my core values?
  • When I reflect on how I spend my time, money and energy, am I investing in the things I consider to be most important?
  • What might I do differently to ensure that my espoused values (what I say) are aligned with my enacted values (what I do)?

Have fun with it and if you find this exercise challenging, give yourself plenty of time to think and reflect.

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Visualise success: create a vision board!

December 15, 2015
dream big

It’s that time of year again when I reflect on the year that’s just been and think about my goals for the year ahead. I’ve written before about my aversion to making New Year’s Resolutions and the things I like to do instead.  This year I’ve decided to do something I haven’t done in years (in fact, I don’t know if I’ve ever really done it properly) and that is to create a vision board.

Recently it seemed that everywhere I turned I saw vision boards and everyone seemed to be talking about them so I took that as a sign and promptly went out and bought me the prettiest darned vision board I could find (not just any old cork board for me!!)

If you don’t know what a vision board is, it’s simply a collage of images and words representing your vision for the future. If your goal is to have a tropical island holiday, you cut out a picture of the exact beach you want to be lying on next summer and you whack it on your vision board. You can add inspirational quotes, souvenirs from places you’ve been, or anything that makes you feel happy and inspired. It’s a really fun and creative way to motivate you towards your goals.  

vision board

Vision board available from Kikki-K

Some people believe that by looking at their vision board every day,  the law of attraction will manifest these things into their life. But even if you aren’t into the manifestation idea, the power of visualising success isn’t a new one in psychology. It’s called mental rehearsal and athletes do it all the time.

So how do you create a vision board?

All you need is some kind of pin board or magnetic board (or cardboard and glue if that works or you!)  Like I said, I bought my board from Kikki-K, which is a stationery shop here in Australia. They also very cleverly stock little packs of inspirational quotes, push-pins, string and mini-pegs to help get you started.

Then the fun part begins. Go online or start cutting up your magazines. Find the words and images that  speak to you and represent your inspiring vision. There are no rules!

Some people like to cover every inch of their vision board whereas I like mine clean and uncluttered. You might want to leave space to add things later or complete your board all at once.

Don’t let small thinking get in your way. If you want to share a stage with Oprah, cut out an Oprah picture and glue yourself onto the couch next to her. If you want to cross the finish line in the Hawaiian Ironman, literally stick yourself into that picture. My vision board has a bit of a New York theme at the moment with both ‘NY Times Bestseller’ and ‘Finisher NYC Marathon’ taking prominent position. (We’re not about what’s sensible or realistic here but what’s possible, even if it’s in your wildest dreams!)

I was at an event recently that was MC’d by a female radio host. She told a story of cutting out her own head and glueing it onto the body of the person whose job she wanted and sticking that onto her vision board. Seems a bit voodoo-ish but hey – it’s no-one else’s vision board but your own. As it happens, she got a call out of the blue a month or so ago offering her an amazing opportunity, in keeping with her voodoo vision.

When you’re done, hang your vision board somewhere you will see it every day. The idea is that by looking at it regularly, you never lose sight of the future you want to create. Your vision board should make you feel happy, excited and continually motivated to work towards your goals.

If you decide to create a vision board, I’d love to hear about it. Good luck and have fun!


Goals & Intentions: An alternative to new year’s resolutions

December 28, 2014
Restart life on New year

I stopped making new year’s resolutions a long time ago. Even when I was running a successful full-time Life Coaching practice,  helping people to achieve their goals, I was very clear that I don’t care much for new year’s resolutions.

I do, of course, fully support any effort to make positive changes in one’s life; I just think there are better ways than the traditional “From 1st January, I will…” approach.

What’s wrong with resolutions?

1. The Willpower Factor

I already covered off in a previous post that most people choose to make sweeping life changes on the first day of the new year, and outlined all the reasons why this is not a wise idea according to the latest research on willpower. In a nutshell, willpower is a finite resource so if you attempt to make too many changes at once, you’re more likely to deplete your resources. Starting slowly and building new habits that become so routine they no longer require a lot of willpower is a much more effective approach to making long term change.

2. All or nothing

A resolution, by definition, is a statement of resolve. I resolve to either do something or not do it, commencing 1st January (or whatever date you choose). Stating your intention in such absolute terms only allows for passing or failing. If you resolve to go to the gym three times per week, as soon as you miss a session you’ve broken your resolution. Many people slip up on their way to achieving goals and this is no sign of failure – in fact, it can be a great opportunity for learning and growth – but resolutions don’t allow for slip ups. The feelings of discouragement (and accompanying negative self-talk) make it difficult to pick up where you left off, which is why many people have shelved their resolutions by mid-January only to bring them out and dust them off again on January 1st next year.

3. The laundry list of resolutions

“Get fit, get out of debt, drink less, eat better….”   *yawn*. It’s a long, boring list only serving to highlight all your perceived inadequacies and there isn’t very much inspiring about that! Combined with the high probability of breaking all those resolutions due to points 1 & 2, people find themselves by mid-January adding lack of self-discipline to their list of (supposed) faults. It’s a lose-lose.

An alternative approach

I’d like to share my preferred options when it comes to planning what I’d like to achieve in the coming year.


live every day with intention

image via pinterest

1. Get clear on your intentions.

Living with intention every day is more likely to take you closer to the life you want to create than any list of goals.

You might, for example, have an intention to live more simply. Or more sustainably. Your intention might be to foster more authentic social connections, or stretch yourself and step out of your comfort zone.

Living with intention cuts through the to-do list of goals and requires you to get clear on your values.

From values and intentions, goals and actions emerge very organically. For example, if your intention is to nurture social connections, you might be inclined to cut back on social media and make more effort to have real conversations with people in your life. Your decision and action is inspired by an authentic value whereas creating a new year’s resolution to ‘spend less time on Facebook’ is unlikely to stick.

2. Choose one word.

I first read about this approach several years ago in this blog post and I’ve chosen a word every year since.Your word for the year can encompass many different life domains and represents a kind of ‘theme’ or thread that weaves through all areas of life and influences your decisions and actions. Some of my favourite words over the years have been Compassion, Courage, Simplify, Unsubscribe and Balance.

3. One Year From Now.

When it comes to setting goals, imagine yourself a year from now looking back on what you’ve achieved. Decide on the specific accomplishments that are most important to you and that are likely to make you feel proud and satisfied. Then wind back. How will that look in six months if you’re on track to your best outcome. How will it look in three months.

It can be fun to make a vision board either in real life or on Pinterest to bring your goals to life and add a sense of excitement.

You might have personal, family, financial and business goals. Make them specific and write them down so you can refer back on your progress throughout the year. Give yourself a full year to map out a course for achieving these things. Nothing magical needs to happen on 1st January; so you don’t have to try to achieve everything all at once; and there are no resolutions to be broken.

Sometimes at the end of the year, I find there are some goals that aren’t achieved or only partially achieved. Regardless, I know that by writing down my objectives for the year and systematically working towards them, I have achieved far more than I would have had I not set any goals at all.

A life lived with intention, values, a sense of purpose and clearly defined goals is far more likely to bring you success and fulfillment than another year of procrastinating on what’s most important to you. But if you have a long trail of broken new year’s resolutions in your past, maybe it’s time to try a new approach.

Do you make resolutions?  I’d love to hear what works for you.

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