This time of year feels so bittersweet to me. There is so much pulling and pushing on our lives. Do you feel the push of August? The push to cram in last bits of fun, to get all the school prep done, to harvest all we planted in the first bit of summer; the push is there, we can’t ignore it. The pull is there, too. The pull toward things of fall is unmistakable. I often find my mind wandering to solo hikes on trails with multicolor leaves to delight my spirit, a morning routine of books and hot coffee on a cool porch, and picking up kids home from school with tired smiles ready for mama’s snuggles. August pushes and pulls me back and forth between making summer last and rushing toward fall.
Kendra Adachi of The Lazy Genius Podcast (one of my must-listen podcasts) urged her listeners this week (episode #70) not to live in fall yet. The calendar still says we are in summer. School may have started up again for some, either homeschool or brick-and-mortar school, but August 16th is still summer. She pointed out that our bodies live in one season while our minds live in another and that can rob us of joy. She encouraged us to let August be a gentle transition from the looser schedule of summer into the firmer structure of fall by building our fall routine gently one item at a time and even doing all of our school shopping and prep done in a day or two…and then leaving it tucked away until it is needed. We can do this without sacrificing our last weeks of summer, soaking in every drop of goodness with our children, with the sunshine, and with the lake and beach. “Get everything bought and packed and washed and done, and then rest. Look around. Still have fun. Slowly transition, and you’ll be able to say goodbye to summer and say hello to the school year with balance and presence. No desperation. No kicking kids out of the house. No looking back at how you missed out on the pace of summer because you looked into fall too quickly. Go slow. Go slow.”
That is tough to do, isn’t it? Go slow. I’m not so good at it. I move swiftly, always have. I pick up new skills pretty quickly, make new friends in an afternoon, move from task to task in my home at lightening speed, and I talk fast—I speak so swiftly that I often have to repeat myself, which I LOVE (sarcasming pretty hard with that one).
I am so glad that I made it a priority to learn how to go slow. It was a challenge, but one that has been worth every bit of intentionality and effort. By going slow I’ve been able to let go of not-so-healthy habits and behaviors, add in some healthy ones, and get to know people in my world in deeper, more meaningful ways. I’m now a huge fan of slow.
This process we’ve been working on the past few weeks is a slow process. If you don’t have it all figured out by the end of the “Creating Space” series, don’t worry. You don’t have to rush this process. You can take your time. Getting to know ourselves is an important and often slow journey that really is the catalyst for health in all other relationships in our world.
Okay, our next step requires another sheet of paper. Maybe we should have just grabbed a notebook. Maybe you already did. You are smart. Thanks for being great.
This week we get to figure out our core values!!! Yaaaayyyyyyy!!!! This is one of my favorites because you will come ALIVE when you start to acknowledge what is in your soul. Plus, generally speaking, thinking about our self is fun.
All of us (most likely) have different values and they are ALL good. My top values are adventure, belonging and love. Those 3 values pretty much inform most of my thought processes and decisions. That means that values are motivators for all of my thoughts and decisions. If something is adventurous, makes me or someone else feel like we belong, or if love is the basis of something then it gets included in my life. Or at least it gets first consideration for things vying for my attention. You may not give a hoot about those values and that is just fine. You do you!
So, here is a comprehensive list of core values.
You may be able to find a more comprehensive list out there, but this one is still pretty great. We are going to narrow this huge list down in small steps. Ready? Let’s do it!!!
First Step: Read thru the list. If you don’t know the meaning of any of the words in context, then look up the definition. Here’s a link to a dictionary.
Second Step: Cross out any words that you could care less about. Don’t judge yourself. Like, don’t say you are a crappy person because you don’t care about “Generosity” or “Truth Seeking”. You aren’t. There are other people in this world who have those values and they live them so well. We need you to live YOUR core values as only you can.
Third Step: Now you have a long list of values that have at least some importance to you. Probably feels good but maybe you still are scratching your head. This list is too long to provide any sort of focus in your life. You are right. Let’s cut it down some more; get to your top 20 core values. Important to note that some values may fit in other values for you. Like I find that curiosity fits inside adventure, as does creativity. Figure out what fits in what in order to narrow down your list to 20.
Forth Step: We are making more cuts…let’s get that list down to 10. You might know a few right away. Maybe one or two have surprised you but feel like they don’t fit with how you live your life right now. Give them space and I am sure you won’t want to let them go. If you are going back-and-forth between a few maybe take a few days to try out different values as leaders in your life to see if they really fit.
Fifth Step: Okay, even tougher now…we need to narrow down our list to 3. That is our magic number. If we landed with only 1 core value, then our lives would be run by a dictator of rigidity. That’s no good. Two can and often do work together well. Not all of my decisions fit in all three of my values simultaneously. But my decisions often are made with 2 of my values ruling the roost. 3. You can do it.
Sixth and Final Step: So, for your final step I want you to tell someone your top 3 values. WHAAAAAAAT?!?!?! Don’t be afraid. I bet your best friend won’t hate you. Tell your spouse, your mom, a trusted co-worker, your counselor or therapist, your priest or pastor, a chat room/fb group, a sibling. Let your values both take up space and be seen. If that seems like too huge a step for you, then just say your core values out loud to yourself (or your cat). The bravery of staying things out loud and the physical act of hearing them spoken is pretty powerful.
Congratulations! How do you feel? When I went through this process I felt free and alive in a way I hadn’t experienced before. Really, it felt like I was no longer unimportant and constantly failing. I felt that way because I had been living in the values of OTHER PEOPLE. Remember how I said that you can live your values as only you can? It is so true! When you try to live the values imposed upon you or values that you think you should have (ugh, there is that rotten word from last week) you will never live up to expectations, or if you do, you will be exhausted and drained. You know you have your right values by how alive you feel when you think or say each word. Confirmation comes when you start to live out those values and life feels happier, easier and fuller.
When you come back next week we will use our values to eliminate some shoulds from your life and set yourself up to take care of your unmet needs identified in week one of this series.
I’d love to hear how this is working for you. What are your top values? How is knowing them affecting change in your life? You are important to me and I want to hear about your journey.
See you next week, Brave Hearts! As always…
Be curious. Be brave. Be connected.