Define Yourself by Values Not Habits
A question I’ve been asked multiple times whether I’m in an interview, networking at the end of an event or on a first date with a potential partner. And the first thing that seems to pop up in my mind every single time is ‘I like chicken wings…’ Of course, this shows personality but not every audience is appropriate for whimsy.
Having a set of predefined core values definitely helps in answering this question without feeling ambushed. This is because your self-identity is directly linked to your observation of self and others and it guides your values, behaviors, decisions, making you more of who you want to be.
Taking inspiration from Darius Foroux’s article, I decided to write the 8 core values that guide me in my everyday life:
Take the time to understand the people around you. Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind to them as you would like them to be kind to you. Finding empathy has added value to my interpersonal relationships with family, friends, colleagues, clients and other humans in general.
Having a healthy relationship with your mind can help you feel grounded and face daily challenges head-on. When you treat yourself with dignity, respect, and compassion, it not only tends to boost self-confidence but in turn teaches people how you expect to be treated. One of my high-school teachers would often say ‘commanding respect is more effective than demanding respect’. I wasn’t too clear on this until I worked on my self-image and saw my relationships at work and home drastically improve.
Realize that you have control over your actions; you decide your path with authority but also with responsibility. Owning your actions is part of being a responsible, autonomous adult. And similar to what Darius Foroux says in his article, while you’re making decisions that affect you, don’t forget that what other adults do is not under your control or your responsibility. This had been a really important lesson in my life as an empath. Before truly understanding this, I felt responsible for people I cared for in an unrealistic way, continually driving myself to emotional exhaustion.
Remind yourself of who you are and why you believe in your values. You have a unique combination of skills, talents, ambitions. Not only does this improve morale, but it also holds you accountable to your personal values. There was a time I was afraid of being judged by others, not feeling good enough for partners or employers until I realized that both ends must match for it to be a fit. Sometimes, you will not fit in, you will not find what you are looking for and that’s okay. Take this process as a method to filter out where you don’t belong. It’s okay to not belong everywhere. If you belonged everywhere, you wouldn’t have a distinct personality. Be proud of who you are and you will find your place.
Learn from your past and your present for your future. Growth isn’t restricted to your anatomy, it spans throughout your being from mindset to mentoring. Teach what you learn and you’ll learn a lot more in return. Believing that there’s always room to grow has helped me become more open-minded and enabled me to listen actively rather than relentlessly striving to be heard.
Be honest, be truthful, be frank. I’m a hardcore believer in open communication. To have a voice is to have the ability to express yourself. We’re allowed to have opinions, we’re allowed to have feelings regardless of gender, shape or colour. By explaining our perspective to others, we illustrate that we’re letting our guard down, that we trust them, which in turn sends the message that they too can trust us. Having an open communication system enables better understanding and this has helped me successfully collaborate in a team setting, with my supervisors, and in my personal life.
Dig in deeper, follow the lead until you can’t and then let it be. Sometimes you can’t figure out every detail and that’s part of what makes life beautiful. While chasing down an idea, delving into possibilities, knowledge and exploring questions is fun, knowing when to stop can keep you from going down a looping rabbit hole.
Strong bonds help us feel grounded and supported. Making sure I invest in my relationships with others as well as myself makes me feel cared for, and gives me the encouragement I need to pursue the meaningful work I need to feel part of the global community.
Those are the right values I live by every day. Values can build habits that make you who you want to be but working it the other way round isn’t entirely as organic as you’d hope.