At a Crossroads?

Crossroads

Photo Credit: Carston Tolkmit

Life is filled with crossroads.

Big ones, small ones. In every moment, every choice, every action, there is a crossroads.

Decisions about career, family, retirement, comments made in casual conversations, the way we greet people we meet.

The fact is, these moments shape our lives – what we experience today and the stage we set for tomorrow. If we meet these crossroads clear about our values, we choose a life based on meaning, grounded in what matters most.

Our values reflect what’s important to us. They are an expression of how we want to live in the world. They bring purpose to our lives.

And yet, when was the last time you consciously thought about your values? Many of us don’t really get clear about our values or set clear intentions to live by them. Often, we know them on some subterranean level. But it’s when we allow them to play an active role during life’s endless crossroad moments that our values can have a powerful impact on our lives.

When our values, intentions and actions are aligned we give our lives a strong foundation and a deep sense of purpose.

If you’ve never given this a try, keep in mind there are lots of resources available and you can customize it in whatever way best suits you.

Here are a few steps to try.

  • Reflect on your life experiences and think about what’s most important to you; what matters; what reflects how you want to live & be in the world.
  • Make a list of your 7 – 10 most important values, with definitions. What I mean when I say spirituality, may be different for you. This is your list. Get specific. One great resource is a worksheet from The Confidence Gap by Russ Harris. You can find the pdf here. 
  • Re-assess them from time to time. For many people their primary values stay consistent over time while the prioritization among them may vary as our stage in life changes. It’s not uncommon though, for a big shift in perspective to result in a significant change in what we value.

Make your values part of your daily life.

  • Write them down, keep them handy, refer to them often. This is especially important if you have a tendency to put other’s needs before your own, get distracted by outside influences, or are in the midst of a transition, challenge or change.
  • Reflecting on your values regularly makes it easier to be aware if your actions match up.
  • Notice. There is an amazing power in awareness. If we’re really present & attentive to the moments in our lives, it becomes pretty clear if the action we just took (or better yet, are about to take) lines up with what really matters most. Awareness is a skill we can cultivate and such an important element in this process, that I’ll be writing more about it soon.

This isn’t always a linear process.

It certainly isn’t a one-time process.

We all have times that we loose sight of what’s important – those moments by the water cooler after a difficult morning when we’re tempted to gossip about a co-worker. Or the big life transitions that are filled with competing interests and needs. And then there are those painful thoughts that can creep in during challenging times that prompt us to act in ways that are contrary to what we value. Painful thoughts can make us retreat into isolation when what we really value is connection or pick a fight with a partner when what matters most to us is respect and intimacy. 

Your values are a map to your heart. 

Let them be your guide and you’ll have a place to stand amidst endless changes, a port in the inevitable storms, and a guide through all the unexpected twists and turns of life.

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9 Comments

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  1. Winnie Ennenga July 12, 2015 at 6:00 pm #

    “Painful thoughts can make us retreat into isolation when what we really value is connection” I see myself so clearly in that statement Kelly. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. .. they always touch my heart and reenergize spirit.

    • Kelly July 13, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

      Thanks for sharing what touched you, Winnie! It can be so helpful to remember that thoughts are just thoughts & we can choose to act on what we value in spite of them. I’m so glad we’re sharing this journey!

  2. Linda Gotsch July 12, 2015 at 11:54 pm #

    Kelly, as before you appeared when I needed your guidance the most. My father finally passed last Thursday. As you know there were a lot of emotional issues that had arisen around my father. He caused such a major life change for my husband and me. We took care of him until three weeks ago which was very difficult both physically and mentally for us. I am at the beginning of a new chapter of my life. Excitement and trepidation are some of the feelings I am experiencing at this time. Your post and accompanying PDF link could not have possibly been more timely. I can’t think of a better way to get started than by focusing on thoroughly completing the work defined there. I am beginning my new life and knowing my values will assist in all choices at this point. Thanks for being in my life at the right time twice and for always being there in the background these recent years. So glad to see you blogging again!

    • Kelly July 13, 2015 at 1:38 pm #

      Hi Linda, I’m so glad that this post arrived just when you needed it. As you navigate this transition, please know you’re in my thoughts. I hope this process leads to a heart-centered new beginning!

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