This is the season of goals and change. Goals can be wonderful benchmarks to help navigate us toward the life we want. However, goals can sometimes lead us into rigid thinking, frustration, and shame when we aren’t connected to the value, or “why,” behind those goals. 2020 has taught us that the unexpected happens, and circumstances can change quite rapidly and drastically. However, even amidst uncertainty and change, you can continue to move in a direction that aligns with your core values. When obstacles beyond your control prevent a desired goal from occurring, it is possible to pivot and continue in the direction of the value connected to that goal in new, and possibly, unforeseen ways.
A helpful exercise is to sit down and journal all the values that matter to you. Some examples of these values are: curiosity, resilience, spirituality, love, empathy, safety, compassion, growth, learning, spontaneity, joy, humor, creativity, grace, flexibility, and so many more. As you review your listed values, I encourage you to narrow those values to your top three, and then, choose a top value to focus on for this year if one stands out to you. This will help guide decisions that arise throughout the year, as you return to your core value of focus, when navigating the nuances of life.
Goal Driven Life
I want to run a marathon.
I want to go on a vacation with my family this year.
I will complete my degree.
I want to stop yelling in my home
Value Driven Life
I will value health and determination
I will value adventure and connection with my family.
I will value education and lifelong learning.
I will value safety, connection, and mindfulness.
If you would like help focusing on the values that drive your life, please call 801.944.4555 to schedule an appointment.
The road ahead, though long, is straight and smooth. You start cruising on your predetermined route, and all seems to be going well. You are making great time as you speed at freeway speeds towards your destination. Suddenly, the road is filled with potholes. You slow down and try to maneuver around all the damaged parts of the road, but you persevere forward. Then the road starts to take twists and turns that you couldn’t see from the starting point, so you slow further to ensure safe passage. You notice turn-offs from the road you are traveling on, but you are determined to continue on to your destination. However, the further you travel, the more twisted and impassable the road becomes. What are you going to do?
We have all encountered situations in our lives where we are faced with the decision to continue on a path that is fraught with danger and impassable, choose to abandon our current path to our destination, or reroute our journey entirely. Maybe we’ve experienced the death of a loved one, a divorce, a job loss, a crisis of faith, troubled relationships with our families, or other crippling circumstances that force us to reevaluate. These situations are difficult and anxiety provoking; however, they also give us the opportunity to look critically at our path and make changes if necessary.
As scary as it is, looking for alternative routes can be empowering. Not too recently, I was at crossroads that I hadn’t anticipated. Looking at options was overwhelming, but I realized that as difficult as the situations was, I did have options. I could choose to be controlled by circumstances and become subservient to a situation, or I could take control of the situation and make a choice to move in a different direction that gave me the power to grow. I chose to grow and reroute.
The new route isn’t without its own bumps, twists, and turns; thus, I am constantly evaluating the possibility of detours that may slow my progress, but that will still lead me to my destination. However, seeing my progress has been invaluable in my journey.
If you are faced with a situation where you feel like you are stuck and without options, visit us here at Wasatch Family Therapy, and we can help you see alternatives. Life is a journey that isn’t without obstacles, but we can help you move around and beyond them.
To be honest, I’ve long abandoned the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. Being born with a brain that’s wired for a short attention span and lacking in organizational skills, I am challenged by simple tasks which I resolve to complete on a daily basis: being sure I arrive at appointments on time, having gas in my car, and did I remember to bring my iPad? Additionally, my brain is now deficit in attention and almost 50. The determination, willpower and stamina involved (or so I would imagine) in ‘sticking to’ resolutions made on January 1 come January 10th, or 20th or (wow! is it possible!) into February is mind boggling to me. Like space traveling; I know incredible human beings make it happen all the time; how they do so is a true wonderment to me.
For myself, and for some of the rest of us, I would like to propose a change in focus this year, and one that I have come to find very useful. Resolve to focus more on the present and live each day to the fullest. I could resolve , on January 5th, to exercise for 40 minutes every morning; but how can I know how I’ll be feeling on the morning of January 6th or January 12th? Resolve to live each day in the moment. Attempting to pre-determine your action/behavior on some future date can be limiting and is often a set-up for failure. I have come to learn that I don’t have to make grand statements or decisions about the future; I choose to focus on the present and live life as it occurring. Taking action based on the here and now, in the present, is empowering. It takes practice for sure and can be scary to think about, but that’s the beauty inherent in the approach. You don’t have to think about it!
Next, consider some of the values that are important to you and then ask yourself, if someone were to spy on me for a few days, would they be able to identify them? For example, some potential areas might be: having a job and money; loving and being loved; making my own decisions; self-respect; freedom; having no legal problems; good health; religion & spirituality; family; good friends. Let’s say my top two are ‘good health’ and ‘family.’ The spy follows me for 3 days. What he observes is: I eat junk food, I lay on my couch, my mom calls me repeatedly and I refuse to pick up the phone. In this case, clearly, while I am identifying good health and family as the two most important values in my life, my behavior clearly is NOT in line with what is most important to me.
So, why suggest this exercise?
When we act in ways that are contrary to our core beliefs or values, our emotional systems will often act up in one way or another. We may begin to feel like something is ‘just not right’ though we’re not exactly sure why or what’s wrong. At times. we lose sight of the things we truly value. Other demands, pressures, stress, or who knows what pulls us to act in ways contrary from the things that are truly important to us. This simple exercise is a great little tool to use as a reminder. Use it as a self-check in; am I using my time in ways that align with things that are truly important to me? If not, adjust accordingly.
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