Check Your Core Values

Check Your Values, Lynette M BurrowsEvery decision you make is colored by your core values whether you know it or not. Do you know what the phrase means? Do you know what your core values are? How do they line up with the core values of your workplace? Your school? Your significant other? Your nation? It is important that you know these things.

We live in troubled times. Every nation seems to be facing political, financial, and/or social challenges. We are besieged with political bickering, name calling, fake news, faulty products, shoddy services, abuses, and mass shootings. We have endless arguments over the best way to solve ‘our problems.’ Yet, we can’t agree on what ‘our problems’ are. What has happened to us? We’ve lost our core values.

Too many people are acting out of their emotion of the moment. They never stop to consider if their actions reflect their core values. Perhaps they don’t know what their core values are. When you act in a way that is incongruous with your core values you feel unvalued and unfulfilled. And out of those feelings come more emotions—depression, resentment, anger, etc—and those are acted upon. It’s time to stop and think. It’s time to remember what a core value is and what it means to us.

What is a Core Value?

“A principle or belief that a person or organization views as being of central importance.” —Oxford Dictionaries 

It’s a rock-bottom, fundamental truth serving as the foundation or basis of a belief. Something that you give importance to, that you trust is THE truth.

Core values exist whether you are aware of them or not. They influence how you prioritize things, how you choose relationships, and how you judge success (yours and others’).

If you don’t know exactly what your core values are, how do you identify them?

How to Identify Your Core Values

1. Identify times you were the happiest in your personal and work life. Identify how and why the event or action made you so happy. What is the common factor between your examples? Is it ambition fulfilled? Then ambition may be one of your values. Is it that you felt loved? Love is also a value.

2. Identify times you were the proudest of in your personal and work life. Again, look for the common factors between your proud moments. Did you feel pride in a job well done? Hard work or professionalism may be one of your core values.

3. Identify the things that you must have in your life to be fulfilled or happy. Is it creativity? Or love? Or being surrounded by nature?

4. Make a list of your core values. Some articles on identifying 10 words that represent one of your values. That’s because you value many things. If you need prompts, there are many lists on the internet. Try to do it without a list. You’ll be truer to your personal values.

5. Prioritize your list. In other words, narrow your list down to a handful of terms that are the rock-bottom principles upon which other values are based.

5. Ask yourself why. Why do you believe that this value is more important than any other value? Flip the value to its opposite. What does its opposite make you feel? Don’t give surface answers like—it’s only fair, or if it’s unjust for one person it can be unjust for me. Get down to the nitty-gritty. Such as “it causes me pain to see someone bullied” or “it would terrify me to be arrested because someone didn’t like the color of my skin.” Did that change your list?

You’ve now identified what your core values or primary values are. These core values are generally consistent throughout your whole life. They rarely change much. The rest of the values you identified can be thought of as your secondary values, important, but not immutable. For example, when you are single you may value working 12 hours. When you have a family, you may value time with your family over time on the job.

Use your Core Values

Next time you’re faced with a decision think about your core values. Will that decision align with your primary or secondary values? You may not immediately be able to make all your decisions based on your core values. But over time you will get closer and closer. See if that doesn’t lead to a more fulfilled life.

Perhaps, if we are all living fulfilled lives with clear core values, we will we have lots of reasons to value each other.

Have you identified what your core values are? Was this article helpful?

Alone for the Holidays

It is Thanksgiving Week. There are many, many things for which I am grateful beyond words, but this isn’t a post about gratitude. It’s about being alone for the holidays. 

The holidays can be particularly stressful for those people who believe the holiday is about what should be done, for people who cannot be with family, for people who have had recent personal challenges or tragedies, and for people who feel alone.

I have spent holidays mourning and struggling. I have spent holidays alone. It took years before I felt comfortable doing what I needed at those times. I know I would have appreciated a few tips during that time, so I’m offering these few to you.

If you are among those who are struggling with personal challenges or losses, remember it’s okay to feel whatever you are feeling at this time. I think Karen Mcfarland says it best: sometimes Reality Bites.

Self Care

If you are alone for the first time this holiday, be kind to yourself. Sheila Weinstein reinvented her life after the death of her husband of 50 years. Her blog is about the holidays after the loss of a loved one, however, it applies to anyone who needs suggestions on how to be kind to yourself at this time of year. Here she shares ten tips on how to Make Your Holiday a Good One.

Perhaps, you simply do not celebrate Thanksgiving or you have chosen to be alone. August Mclaughlin gives us some hints on learning to enjoy time alone. Her post is about writing but it can apply to anyone who needs a little Sweet Solitude.

No Rules

Holidays have a lot of emotional baggage attached to them. Family traditions, co-workers, television shows, even commercials pound us with expectations for the holiday. Remember, there are no rules about this or any other holiday. You don’t have to give the holiday the power to make you feel worse in any way. The holiday is what YOU make it. Take charge of the holidays. Make it what you need it to be.

Whatever is going on in your life, my wish for you this Thanksgiving and holiday season is a moment of peace, a moment of gratitude, and a bounty of blessings.

alone for the holidays, lynettemburrows.com

 

First posted 11/24/11    Reposted and edited 11/20/17

This is the first in a week-long series of posts for the holiday.

Finding Hope

People were killed and people were severely injured last week. Is finding hope in the midst of this turmoil and suffering even possible?

People are killed and severely injured every week, you say. How is this different? Hate crimes. Yeah. Hate crimes happen every day, too. It’s a sad, angry, scared, confusing world.

This crime was big and public and it hit the news. Caring, compassionate people are hurting, grieving, scared, and angry. Many have lost hope. Some are lashing out with angry words. They think it is a sign of compassion, a sign of solidarity, a sign of right. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it crosses the line. Hate and anger beget hate and anger.

I don’t condone behavior based on hate or anger from anyone, for any reason. I try to feel compassion. But yes, I’m angry, hurt, scared, and confused, too. I wanted to strike back. At the same time, I want to hide my head in the sand. I want to hope it will all go away. And I tried. I tried staying away from social media. I wrote in my journal. I pulled out words I’ve drafted for future blog posts and tried to post them. I tried to pretend all was well. But I couldn’t do it.

I wrote angry, hurt-filled, blaming words that I thought I would post. But I couldn’t do that either. Hate and anger beget hate and anger.

I turned to my center, searching for love, understanding, compassion, hope. Severely challenged by recent events, by all the hate and anger that surrounds us, I couldn’t find any hope until Kitt Crescendo responded to a post by Catie Rhodes. Catie asked folks to comment with whatever music they were listening to today (Sunday). Kitt responded with a comment that when she gets discouraged by the events surrounding us, she turns to this song:

There it is, my compassion, my faith in people, my hope. Look at the lyrics:

“The Change”
Lyrics by Tony Arata and Wayne Tester

One hand
Reaches out
And pulls a lost soul from harm
While a thousand more go unspoken for
They say what good have you done
By saving just this one
It’s like whispering a prayer
In the fury of a storm

And I hear them saying you’ll never change things
And no matter what you do it’s still the same thing
But it’s not the world that I am changing
I do this so this world will know
That it will not change me

This heart
Still believes
The love and mercy still exist
While all the hatred rage and so many say
That love is all but pointless in madness such as this
It’s like trying to stop a fire
With the moisture from a kiss

And I hear them saying you’ll never change things
And no matter what you do it’s still the same thing
But it’s not the world that I am changing
I do this so this world will know
That it will not change me

As long as one heart still holds on
Then hope is never really gone

I hear them saying you’ll never change things
And no matter what you do it’s still the same thing
But it’s not the world that I am changing
I do this so this world we know
Never changes me

What I do is so
This world will know
That it will not change me

Some of you are likely going to comment that I’m avoiding naming the event, the place, the type of hate crime, and the criminals. Yes, I am. An ugly truth is that this isn’t the only hate crime that happened last week. It’s the one in the news. Hate crimes happen every day against people for their gender, their race, their religion, their otherness. Hate crimes range from angry, hurtful words to damaged property, or injury, or murder. No hate crime is less than or greater than the other. No hate crime is the right thing to do. Hate and anger beget hate and anger.

So I will rise above my feelings of hate and anger. I will remember to show love and mercy to all people regardless of their gender, race, religion, or otherness, even regardless of their behavior. I believe bad behavior (which this goes way beyond) must have consequences. But I also believe that only through love and mercy will we ever find true equality and peace.

Written for a different hate crime, this song reminded me. I believe that love and mercy still exist. I know there are people like me who will hold love and mercy in their hearts no matter how much anger and hate is flung around the globe and at home. And knowing that, I know hope is never gone.

With heartfelt thanks to the lyric writers, Tony Arata and Wayne Tester, to Garth Brooks, Catie Rhodes, and Kitt Crescendo. Keep spreading love and mercy!

More than a Game

When I was a child, about eight- or nine-years-old, my mother went to the hospital to have her third child. My brother and I were packed off to an aunt and uncle’s house. There we got involved in a game that was more than a game.

"When

Now, this aunt and uncle had five children. The two oldest were off to college. The two youngest were about the same age as my brother and I. The middle child was a teenager, uninterested and uninvolved in the lives of children.

My aunt and uncle’s old farmhouse held an attic with two bedroom spaces, each holding a pair of bunk beds. The second-floor held four more bedrooms. A living room, kitchen, dining room, and den made up the first floor. And there was a basement, the realm of the children. The basement had several rooms of bookcases and cabinets and a door to the outside.

Outside was a wonder. A  grape arbor and an orchard gave us plenty of room to be rowdy kids running around.

The three boys and I invented an adventure game. Being the only girl, I was the heroine or the damsel in distress, depending on the turn of the play. The boys were the heroes and occasional victims. The evil villain was invisible, an unknown who left threatening notes. We dashed in and out of the basement, zig-zagged through the spooky fruit trees and grabby grape vines, uncovered clues and threatening notes, did heroic deeds, and wore ourselves out with fun.

"When

Memory fails to recall what quieter activities filling the evening after our meal. What I remember is climbing upstairs to the attic bedroom, into the lower bunk, and falling fast asleep.

I woke gasping for air. Ice cold hands were around my throat, choking me! I couldn’t see who the cloaked villain was but screamed for help. The three boys rushed to the room and pounded the villain with their fists. Lights came on, the villain disappeared. I sobbed my tale of fear to my aunt and uncle.

The boy heroes identified the dastardly villain as my teen-aged cousin. My aunt and uncle punished him. They soothed me. The visit was short (probably not to my aunt and uncle). My brother and I went home and welcomed our new baby sister.

Today, I feel bad for my teenaged cousin. He took the game a little too far, perhaps, yet, the choking was minimal and momentary, or I wouldn’t have been able to scream.  Looking back, I was frightened, but the fright was temporary.  I have a fun-to-tell memory, my brother and cousins got to be real heroes, and I got a story, two blog posts, and a novel out of the adventure!

What do you recall fondly? Childhood memories? Adventures as a Teen? Trials and Tribulations of being an adult? Were any of your experiences more than a game? Any lessons you learned from these? Please share your story below in the comments below.

 

 

Perfection, Failure and Inspiration

Are you caught in the struggle between perfection, failure, and inspiration? Failure, in particular, is something most of us avoid. Perhaps we shouldn’t.

Interesting speech, yes? Now, no one is encouraging you to go out and deliberately fail. What Ms. Rowling suggests is that we shouldn’t be so afraid of failure that we don’t take risks.

If Ms. Rowling’s speech hasn’t convinced you that failure can be a good thing, that failure is part of life, read KM Huber’s blog, The Way to Fall Apart. It’s a lovely post and reminds us all that falling apart is necessary for things to come together.

But failing and falling apart are scary. So we look for some way to make it come together. Aren’t we all guilty of sometimes avoiding the possibility of failure by trying to make everything perfect? And wouldn’t you know it, Seth Godin had something to say about Polishing Perfect.

Has this post made you uncomfortable? Talking about, thinking about, much less experiencing failure is uncomfortable. But remind yourself, failure is just one way that didn’t work. Dare to risk failure. You never know what you might discover.

Quote by H Jackson Brown "20 years from now..." Don't be so afraid. Perfection, failure, and inspiration are struggles for all of us.
image courtesy of pixabay.com

I’m risking failure with an epic rewrite of an imperfect novel that I can’t let go.

Still afraid of failure? You may want to read The Perfect Trap.

Do you struggle with perfection, failure and inspiration? Do you avoid failure at all costs?
Or do you embrace the risk of failure?