One of the key elements of daily fulfillment (yes, you read that right…fulfillment can be and is realized daily…a topic for another post) is living according to your deepest held values. Just to be clear, I’m not talking about values in the “golden rule” sense. What I’m talking about are the things that are most dear to us, those things which influence our choices and actions and which guide us to a live a life that’s true to who we are. In a way, our values could almost serve as a snapshot of who we are at our core. They convey our essence.
As for me, a few of my core values (in no particular order) include:
- Connection with the natural, outdoor world
- Physical activity and vitality
- Empowerment and autonomy
- Honesty, integrity and authenticity
- Love and connection with others
- Challenge and achievement
In the last few weeks I’ve been aware during my days that I’m less than fully satisfied with my activities. I’m not as fully taken in by my work or my responsibilities at home. I’m not as focused as I know I can be and as I want to be. As I get into bed at night, while I can always point to things for which I’m grateful in each day, I have had to admit that there is also a palpable little block of emptiness from some of my days.
And that’s my cue to stop. That’s the signal that it is time to pause, observe, and assess. What does that space represent? What does it feel like I’ve missed? And the big question: could it be that I have somehow not honored something, some value, that is fundamental to who I am?
The purpose of this sort of questioning is not to find openings to berate or pass judgment upon myself—that is most definitely not the point. The point is to allow myself to explore what it is about the way I am living my life right now that is leaving me unfulfilled. Gaining insight into that is the only chance I have to positively and proactively do something about it!
In my case right now, I have determined that because I’m still recovering from a second hip surgery to repair a torn labrum and to reshape my femur head, I haven’t been looking after that part of me that needs time outside in the natural world. I haven’t been able to be out there hiking and running in mountains, taking long bike rides over beautiful Colorado roads, or sleeping in a tent near an isolated high-alpine lake. My physical movement right now is limited to short stationary bike rides with little resistance, sessions in the pool that don’t include kicking of any sort, and the now well-memorized and indispensably valuable “Level One” functional strength exercises from Doc Strecker and Coach Al.
I can’t do what I usually physically do outside, so over the course of the last few months without me really noticing, I’ve not cared for those elements of who I am. In the process of letting that part of me slide, my capacity to find the fulfillment I usually do in my work and in my engagement at home has waned…there’s a connection!
Ahh! Yes! Now I can make a plan and take action to recalibrate my attention and my effort. It’s time to get creative and get outside differently, and to otherwise satisfy as best I can that value of physical activity and vitality.
Whenever any of us senses that something’s missing, or feels that nagging notion that we’ve left some part of us behind in our days, it is quite likely that we’ve somehow not honored one or several of our values. This can happen to us professionally and personally in a variety of ways, and interestingly, a gap in one aspect of life can impact our performance and opportunity for fulfillment in others. Sure, we can let those feelings go unnoticed and untended. That’s a choice we can, and probably too often do, make. But left as is that feeling will remain, that space will gape open, and it will demand your attention at some point.
To make a difference in your fulfillment it is so important to have an awareness of who you are in terms of your core values. This is something you really ought to know about yourself! With that insight into what matters most for you, that view into your essence, it will become imperative to make decisions and take action to meet those needs, to do work that aligns with and supports those needs, and even to surround yourself with people who nourish those values in you.
So what do you say? Could you be ignoring an opportunity for fulfillment? It's worth thinking about. After all…your full life awaits!!