Have you ever been in this situation?
You make a plan or goal in life. You plod along, navigating the many twists and turns that come your way. Then, a year, or two, or five, later you look back and realize things turned out completely different than you thought they would. In fact, you couldn’t have imagined the course of events that led you to where you are now. Somewhere along the way life threw you a curveball and it impacted everything.
Change is the only constant
Each time our lives spin in another direction we’re forced to adjust and reevaluate what’s important to us. With each curveball, we essentially need to review our values and reset if necessary. These are some prime examples curveballs life can throw at you:
- Birth of a child
- Moving cross-country
- Making a career change
- Starting a business
- Death of a loved one
- Buying a home
- Going through a divorce
- Getting married
The curveball and its impact
If you’re like me, curveballs in life have surprised you more than once. For instance, a year ago I couldn’t have predicted that husband John and I would be raising a newborn baby. In fact, exactly one year ago today insightlopedia.life went live. When I hit publish on that first post in the summer of 2016, I was excited to create a long-term plan for my blog. I thought the next few years would be spent writing, social networking and researching article content. Two months later we found out I was pregnant. Quite a curveball!
Fast-forward to present day. John and I recently welcomed baby Chief into the world! I knew our lives would change forever, but I couldn’t imagine the magnitude. While blogging is still a high priority for me, I also want to spend as much time with my son as possible. I found myself facing an internal conflict of values.
My motivation to achieve blogging (and other profession goals) has not diminished, but my desire to spend more time with my family has increased. As any parent knows, I have more things to do now than pre-baby, but the same amount of time available to me. I was feeling good as a mom (most of the time), but like a failure in several other areas of my value system. The curveball had quite an impact!
The power of awareness
While you’re going through a major life experience, it’s probably not top of mind to think about your values and how they are impacted. But that is exactly what you should do!
It’s entirely possible you aren’t even aware of the change in values that occurred when life threw you a curveball. Without recognizing this, it’s easy to feel out of balance.
Wait a sec…Can values really change?
I frequently mention that your core values are your guideposts in life. They can help you make decisions, both small and large. Knowing your values and living by them creates a sense of happiness and fulfillment. It’s the only way to ensure you’re living the life you were meant to live
With that said, you may be wondering if your values can change over time. The short answer is YES! And that’s a good thing. As we grow and deal with the curveballs of life our belief system, wants, and needs will also change. To maintain your sense of fulfillment your values need to adjust as well.
What does a change in values look like?
There are three main ways you might find yourself confronting a change in values.
Altered Engagement –
The meaning or amount of time you devote to a specific value either increases or decreases.
This may occur with a replacement/removal or a prioritization shift (explained below). It could also happen as an isolated event. Altered engagement is the change I experienced after becoming a mom. My ambition to write and grow my blog hasn’t decreased at all. However, I’ve decided to spend less time on my Achievement value and more time on my Family.
Prioritization Shift –
Two or more values changing in priority. A value that was less important now takes center stage, causing a shift in the priority list.
Many moons ago when I was playing collegiate sports, health/fitness was my top priority. As time passed and athletics became less of a focus for me, this value moved down on my priority list. My career became more of a focus and that value moved up on the list.
Replacement / Removal –
One value being replaced by another, or just falling off the list completely.
More than a decade ago my career ambitions were vastly different than now. At the time I had a laser focus on my goal of becoming an FBI agent. This was the utmost important thing in my life, my highest priority value. When the FBI gig didn’t work out I was absolutely crushed. I spent a year feeling like a complete failure. I stopped caring about my career entirely. Suddenly this value was erased from my list.
How to adjust values when life throws you a curveball
This point is so important, I’ll repeat it: If you’re feeling stressed out, lost, conflicted, or overwhelmed you NEED to review your values.
It’s likely that you must sort through the change you’re experiencing and reset things. This exercise will help you to consciously think about what your values mean, and to identify how much energy you want to expend on each.
The next time you feel like you need a “reset on life”, follow these steps:
1. Increase your awareness
First and foremost, you need to be aware of whatever the curveball is. Identify the event/experience and acknowledge it as the catalyst for a change in your values. Journal about how you’re feeling. Another option is to talk about things with someone you trust. If you chose the latter option I strongly recommend writing some thoughts down so you can reflect back in the future. I find it extremely helpful to review past journal entries. It can pinpoint trends or highlight your growth.
2. Check your list of values
If you haven’t written your values down, take the time to do so now. Take a look and see what no longer makes sense. What are the people or experiences you value most in life? Without these things, you would feel incomplete. Does your list of values reflect what is most important right now? (It’s imperative you list what is important to you not what someone else deems important. Do not waste your life living to meet someone else’s expectations.)
3. Re-prioritize your values
Depending on the type of values change you experienced, this may be as simple as switching two values in priority. Or, you may need to create a new list. Either way, write them down in order of the current priority. Your most important value is #1. Ideally, you’ll have 5-8 core values, but no more than 10.
4. Mentally reset your value system
Contemplate how you can accommodate the desired change. Back to my example of “baby versus blogging”. While there was no change to my values or their priority, I did experience altered engagement. When Chief was born my level of commitment to my family value spiked. I was able to mentally reset myself after recognizing that it’s my choice to spend more time with Chief. When I am with him, I actually think about the fact that there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. Our shared moments are precious. Blogging will still be there later, whenever I want to put time into it. The fact that I chose to scale back my blogging time does not indicate failure.
The act of becoming aware and reconsidering my values helped reset my internal expectations. After completing these steps I no long felt mentally exhausted and overwhelmed. Instead, I know my time is spent in complete alignment with my values.