As a coach, wellness is important to me. I work with my clients to help them achieve a sense of well-being in their lives by working through the challenges and opportunities they face daily. I believe that a sense of wellness can only be achieved when you are honoring your values. With that in mind, the first step to wellness is knowing what your values are.
Values are those things that define and motivate us. They are the force inside that pulls us forward toward our goals. Specifically, when I use the term values, I use a definition that my colleague, Laura Biering, and I developed. Values are (i) who you are at the core; (ii) what you hold most dear; and (iii) what you suffer most from compromising.
When our core values are being honored in our lives, we feel good, we contribute more and we have an overall sense of fulfillment. When our values are not being honored, we tend to feel disconnected, discontented and disconcerted. Most of the unhappiness I see in people comes from one or more of their core values not being honored in their lives. We cannot be well when we do not have those things that define us.
Have you heard a friend complain about her job and thought to yourself, “How can she complain? That’s a great job!” Your perception of the job and your friend’s perception of her job are different because you have different values. Perhaps she has a value of beauty and the offices are drab, dull and poorly decorated. Spending 8-10 hours a day in that environment would drain the wellness out of anyone with a core value of beauty but might be fine to someone else. Or, perhaps your friend highly values family and while the work is stimulating and the people are wonderful, she never gets to leave work before 7 p.m. Again this might be fine with someone else, but it bumps up against her core value of family and leaves her feeling out of sorts.
As we strive to attain wellness in our lives, we need to look at all sorts of factors including our values. Where are your values being honored and where are they being dishonored? What gives you a sense of contentment and wellness? How can you bring more of that into your life?