“Rather than looking outward in an attempt to predict the outcome, you turn inward to your identity. You base your decisions on who you are--or who you want to be.” ― Adam Grant, Originals
It can be tough to predict what will or will not happen in the future with any degree of accuracy in these uncertain times. However, considering the ever-changing times we face, deepening our ability to pivot, reset, and re-calibrate are life skills that can serve us personally and professionally. Still, as much as we acknowledge how essential these skills are, actually putting them into action can be a complicated thing to do when faced with uncertainty in our life or when an unforeseen situation suddenly presents itself to us.
As well-known author and consultant Adam Grant states, the ability to turn our attention inward and genuinely tap into our own identity can help us better understand who we are and who we want to be. Although Adam’s words are very empowering and draw attention to the importance of self-awareness, I would add that we still need something to anchor ourselves to when we reflect on the nature of our own identity. This is especially true when more challenging times suddenly appear in our lives.
Reflecting on the essence of who we are and who we want to be is made much easier when we have clearly articulated values that we hold front and center in our lives. Rather than focusing on what we hope will happen in the future or believing that everything will unfold as we planned for, what if we instead just focused on the extent to which we align with the core values we believe to be most important in our lives? Will essential decisions in our life become easier to make if we do this?
Living in alignment with our core values significantly boosts our consistency regarding our thoughts, words, and actions. In addition, when we live in this alignment with more regularity, we put ourselves in a much better position to know who we are, what we stand for, and whether or not we are on the right track to becoming the person we want to be. Finally, we have a hook to hang our hat on and better reflect on who we are and what we represent.
If I asked you to identify your top 3-4 core values right now, could you? How clearly can you articulate what it is you believe in most? And how often do you reflect on the extent to which your thoughts, actions, and words align with the values you think are most important in your life? As an exercise, try writing out a list of values that you feel guide you both personally and professionally. Once you have your list, flip it into driving questions that can help you better reflect on who you are and who you want to be.
For example, your list may include the core values of Compassion, Courage, Curiosity, and Kindness. It’s OK if you are not completely clear, but at least have a go at brainstorming a potential list of core values. Once you have done this, turn each core value into a reflective question. These questions can be used as writing prompts in your journal each time you reflect on important decisions you have to make in your life.
Compassion: To what extent did I show compassion toward myself and others today (or this past week)? What examples can I provide?
Courage: To what extent did I demonstrate courage today (or this past)? What examples can I provide?
Curiosity: To what extent did I put curiosity into action in my life today (or this past week)? What examples can I provide?
Kindness: To what extent did I show kindness toward others today (or this past week)? What examples can I provide?
Achieving desired outcomes and always hoping that things will work out as planned is a natural part of life. However, having specific strategies to lean on when things don’t go our way or when we encounter challenging times can significantly enhance our ability to make informed decisions rooted in the values that we hold near and dear to our hearts.