Finding Our Values and Purpose


  Something that can be tremendously helpful when it comes to making meaningful changes in your life, is to understand why you want to make the change in first place.
Understanding why we believe the things we do or act the way we do are often determined by our values. This past year I did an exercise called a value sort. I found this exercise tremendously helpful in sorting through my values and eliminating the things that were not serving me and my needs in life.

To do this activity, you start with a list of 100 items and sort them into 3 categories;

  First, what you find very important to yourself. These are often things we closely identify with, and/or feel we cannot live without; such as maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle, our passions and life long aspirations, and the love and support from your community. (do not put things such as food and water, or sleep on this list. Its not that kind of prioritizing) 

  Second, simply put values of secondary importance here. Maybe these are things you enjoy doing but don't necessarily feel unfulfilled or incomplete without.

  Last, what ultimately is not important to you and can be left behind. These are often things that we feel burdened or weighed down by. Maybe these are outside expectations that you feel are too over-bearing or heavy for your already full plate. Don't let your own happiness be brought down by things you personally do not care about.

Along with our values, I think our purpose is also important. 

  Are you living out your purpose, or do you even have a firm grasp as to what that purpose is?
"Finding your purpose" can sound vague and cliche if you don't have an understanding of how to figure out what that purpose even is.
From the value sort activity above, take the very important values and categorize them into patterns. 

  For example, if I picked inner peace, mindfulness, hope, and spirituality all as very important to me, I could place those together. After sorting all the "very important" pile into respective umbrella terms or categories (around 3-5), pick one card or word to represent each category. Using the same example from above. I might pick spirituality as a way to encompass all of those words for myself. I could even create a new umbrella word if I felt called to a different word to represent the category. Now you should have 3 key words that represent your core values. Aligning your actions in life with these will help you to feel fulfilled in what you do. Still using my example, if spirituality were one of my top values, I could find ways to make my activities spiritual. It might mean shifting how I use my daily time to feel more fulfilled, or it might only take a shift in perspective of how that activity is aligned in my values. 

I hope you can find use in one or multiple things listed here to improve your well being. It feels refreshing when we can re-evaluate the things taking time and energy in our life and provide more purpose into our everyday.