What a learning curve the last 18 months have been. The pandemic exposed us all to some of the harshest facets of reality, and in doing so completely altered what we consider important. Important at work, at home, in policy, society, for right now and the future. With individuals and industries alike undergoing a rethink about what matters most, and as it is World Values Day on 21st October, I’m taking a moment to look at what it takes to stay connected to what makes you you, at the core and throughout change.
What matters most to you? What would you like to have? What would you like to do? Who would you like to be?
These simple questions have far from easy answers, especially today when everything is being questioned. Things that employees have desired for decades, but simply couldn’t achieve pre-pandemic, have been pushed to the fore. A hyper-focus on flexibility, inclusion, work-life balance, and wellbeing are all positive, progressive results of the last 18 months. But they still all mean different things to different people- and are closer in reach for some more than others.
Even in objectively privileged circumstances, the below inner monologue is not uncommon:
‘I’ve achieved success and am on the fast track in my career, I’m respected by my peers, I have a great family and all the toys and perks that I could possibly want…so why don’t I feel a stronger sense of fulfilment or any real happiness inside? Why do I still feel slightly empty!’
When riding so much change- positive or negative- it is easy to experience something that can only be described as a disconnect. With our eyes opened to new perspectives on our lives, a heightened self-awareness gives us both the ability to celebrate our successes, but also a gnawing sense of what’s missing.
Identifying the disconnect
Much of our dissatisfaction often comes from a conflict between our actions and our deeply held personal values. In the rush and press of life today, too many of us have lost touch with what matters most to us – values like close family relationships, spending time with family and friends, participating in meaningful work, giving of self in service of others, following our own light and achieving our dreams and creative goals.
Reconnecting is about being fully conscious and aware of the feelings we experience throughout a day or a moment, during a difficult period in our lives or a fabulous life milestone or achievement.
When we are connected to ourselves, we:
Acknowledge our emotions.
Know where our emotions are coming from and what they relate to.
Understand how our emotions correspond to a personal value that’s honoured or neglected.
Ultimately it is thinking about our feelings – knowing why we feel that way and what we can do or not do about it.
On the flipside, when we’re disconnected from our self, we still experience emotions, but we don’t understand where they’re coming from or why they’re here. Often, we become reactive, even acting out in ways that are hurtful to others.
Being disconnected from ourselves leads to us making decisions we are unhappy with or being unable to make a decision because we don’t know what we want. We make choices that ultimately make us feel unhappy, ashamed, disappointed, or trapped.
The only way to rectify this is to go back to who you are at heart – what your values are.
So how do you ground yourself in your values? Imagine you are 100 years old…
A quick way to reconnect is to imagine you are 100 years old. You are tired and ready to leave this life. Everyone you love is by your side and they are saying how wonderful you are. They are really singing your praises.
What you hear is music to your ears.
What are they saying? What are the words they are using to describe how you were in their lives, what you contributed to their happiness?
Remember, this is not what you think they might actually say, but what you most hope would be said about you. This is a good indicator of how you want to behave as you move through your life, what you believe to be meaningful, and what you want to keep in your reach.
It connects you to your values.
Once you become more familiar with these values, you can then start to recognise emotions that arise when these values are upheld or are dishonoured. This is what connection to self is all about – knowing what you feel and why you feel it.
Tim is FranklinCovey's Leadership Practice Director in the UK & Ireland, an internationally recognised leadership expert, coach and speaker. With a fundamental belief that people are inherently capable of doing great things, he thrives on the challenge of enabling the full intelligence of others to make the difference we all deserve. A sought after speaker, Tim delivers high impact talks to global audiences from tens to hundreds of attendees for organisations across most sectors, both in person and virtually. He consistently wins praise for his dynamic stage presence, his ability to connect with audiences and delivery practical, relevant business content that inspires action.Tim lives in Woodstock, Oxfordshire in the UK with his lovely wife and 4 kids.