It’s easy to applaud change on the outside.
Over the past year and a half, many of you have watched a remarkable transformation in my physical health. But what’s been happening on the inside?
In a past blog titled “How Cracker Barrel Made Me Skinny,” I shared the first two steps of my transformation: working out and eating healthier. I’m still improving there, but now I’m here to share the third step to achieving a more sustainable, better life.
Back in July, I first met Alexine, a highly experienced counselor and Life Coach, and brought a notebook containing thirteen questions to my appointment. Over the past months, we’ve discussed several, but the most impactful thus far has been, “How can I find out what I truly care about?” – the basis of this story.
Alexine guided me to the concept of defining my personal core values – the energy within me—which started by taking a couple of assessments. After reviewing and comparing the cookie-cutter results the assessments gave, I realized I needed to put my creative spin on them if I wanted this to be meaningful and applicable to my everyday life. After five weeks of brainstorming and editing, I organized my results in three phrases: Mindful Curiosity, Elevated Experiences, and Active Relationships. These encompass my top assessment results of creativity, health, wellness, responsibility and belonging.
By asking myself how I approach each value, I’ve been able to better understand how the energy within me is formed and how I approach each of my values. Here’s what I learned:
My Approach to CREATIVITY
Curious is the new nosey. I’m always asking questions and searching for information, because Mindful Curiosity is the root of my creativity. I apply all of the knowledge that I collect in a conscious and logical way, often in situations where others may not connect two ideas together.
CREATIVITY: In the Marketing world, creativity is often degraded to “magic” or “making things pretty,” while it’s actually a new lens of thinking in a smarter and clearer way. My mind is constantly racing while I think of what questions I want to ask next, what I can do with the information I’m being provided, and how to connect new ideas to old problems. Admittedly, my curiosity can seem overwhelming at times, but those closest to me have learned to appreciate the end result of my constant nosiness.
My Approach to HEALTH & WELLNESS
Better, faster, stronger. Wellness usually focuses on physical health, yet it’s defined as “a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential.” I’m known to take everyday ideas, problems and concepts and bring them to life through Elevated Experiences. Health, an aspect of wellness, is a major focus of mine while I’m building a sustainable lifestyle.
HEALTH: I’ve learned to prioritize fitness, a more balanced diet, and health-based patterns in my everyday life. I achieved this new healthy vibe by recognizing a problem and seeking a creative, or elevated, solution – including making fitness fun and adding some accountability from a dietitian.
WELLNESS: I’m always down for a challenge and seek to improve everything I touch. While typically positive, it’s tough when things have to be “good enough” and I don’t have the time or resources to finish projects in the way I had initially envisioned.
My Approach to RESPONSIBILITY & BELONGING
Some people call it annoying; I call it active. If you’re one of the closest relationships in my life, you’ll know because I am constantly calling, texting, making plans and asking questions… building Active Relationships. I’m responsible by keeping my promises and holding others accountable, oftentimes setting higher-than-normal expectations for those closest to me. I need a sense of belonging in these relationships, by feeling prioritized and valued.
RESPONSIBILITY: I’m always looking for the next thing to do and I want to be active in scheduling, coordinating the invites, and planning activities. The responsibility in me wants clear expectations ahead of time and counts on things to meet or exceed those personal expectations – which, like I said, are often higher than normal. It’s difficult for me to wait on others to suggest plans or be left without certainty.
BELONGING: I find a sense of belonging when I’m included and can include others, too. While I initially felt like this value was that of neediness or jealous, Alexine helped me understand that it’s simply part of my extroverted personality and shows my loyalty and connectedness.
So, Where Do You Find Energy?
If you’re curious about how to find your values, give my process a try:
Step 1 | Brainstorming: I suggest using the following two assessments as a starting point:
Life Values Inventory: This inventory asks a series of questions that lead to a result of 14 “positive life values.” You’ll also have the chance to learn about which values you may be under-using or over-using.
Personal Values Test: This test allows you to initially select words you value, then guides you through questions to determine which are your best fit.
Step 2 | Blending: While these two assessments provide different results, look at them side-by-side and attempt to find overlap and similarities. At this point, I narrowed my top values down to 8 total options between the two assessments.
Step 3 | Building: It’s important to make your values mean something to you! Whether you assemble them as phrases like me, use single words, or write yourself a purpose statement – base this on how you plan to use them. To get to my end result, I used a white board to scatter out my ideas, then started a list of combined phrases. I spent nearly five weeks thinking and editing before making my final sections, so don’t feel pressure to do this quickly. It’s more important to find a meaningful result than a quick one.
Give it a shot and feel free to share your ideas with me. Trust me, it feels really good to know more about who you are. And if anyone’s ever brave enough to ask: “tell me about yourself,” they’ve got a thoughtful answer coming their way.
It’s worth it.