Inspiration can feel elusive at times. But if you're finding yourself adrift and inspiration failing you no matter what you do, you might want to take stock of your values.
Jack London once said, "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." His approach of throwing whatever you have at the wall and hoping that something inspirational sticks is one way forward - sheer blunt force. But, unfortunately, this hit and miss scenario is commonly used. And, commonly, it offers the same outcome - frustration.
Why? Because the remedies to inspirational malaise don't reside "out there". They are found within ourselves. It is, after all, in the word itself. Or, more precisely, in its Latin root spiritus. Spirit. Understanding what truly lights the flame - and keeps it lit - can be found in our spirit - our true selves.
Enter - values.
What are values anyway?
Values. It is a word that get bandied about a lot. To the point perhaps that it has become one of those buzzwords that - like all corporate-speak - now lacks impact.
But let's stop for a moment and consider what values really are and why they are so important to each of us.
Values are at the core of who we are. They define our very nature and what we hold most dear. They are, at the expense of sounding melodramatic, an inventory of the heart. Pinpoint your true values and you'll have found the fuel that will sustain your inspiration throughout life.
As long as, of course, your actions in life honour them. Herein lies the key. It 's when we choose not to be guided by them that the power of defining one's values becomes apparent. When we're struggling in our work or other aspects of life. When motivation has been sent packing. When we drift about, unfocused and discontented. It is at times like these that we need to go back to the source - to the core of who we are and seek guidance. Because it's highly likely that your suffering is caused by a disconnect between your core values and your actions.
So, what process should you follow to rekindle your inspiration and breathe energy and meaning back into your life?
Step 1: Define your values
For each of these questions below, jot down whatever words come to mind that contributes to the feeling that arises...
What brings you happiness now?
Think about a time in past when you were most happy, fulfilled or alive. What were you doing? Who were you with?
What creates a sense of "lightness" in your life?
When are you most yourself?
What motivates you to take action in life?
What truly interests you? How do you spend your free time?
Who do you most respect and why?
What stories most inspire you and why?
Once you have your list, begin the distillation process. You goal is to reach a list of 3-5 values that stand out for you - that evoke the strongest positive feeling for you. There is no right or wrong here. Don't self-criticize or self-limit. Let it flow. If you have more than 5 values listed at the end, go through a prioritization exercise to distill it down even further.
Step 2: Prepare to be surprised (or maybe not)
There may be few surprises for you in the outcome of this process. On the other hand, you may be blown away by what surfaces. Recently, I went through this process with my own coach after feeling a deep need to re-center. Of no surprise was that "Family" ranked #1 for me. But others did take me aback.
Fairness. Freedom. Exploration. These can appear to be big buckets so to speak. But as I looked at each of these in more depth, I discovered I could easily put a finger on what they meant. Freedom, for example, spoke to my need for empowerment. Exploration connected to challenge and adventure.
Step 3: Assess your current situation
This process for me was one of the most powerful experiences of my life. Through the enlightenment it provided me, it changed the course of my career. It also now lights my path forward. No longer will I simply throw my actions against the wall in search for inspiration. My values have allowed me to clarify my purpose and a vision of where I'm going. Aspects that perhaps had been clearly lacking before.
I strongly encourage you to do the same. If something is lacking in your life - if something just doesn't seem right - ask yourself the following: "Do I know what my values truly are?" If so, "Am I honouring these values in what I am doing now?"
Defining your core values and staying true to them is the surest route to finding that spark that eludes you!
Glenn Case is a Career Success and Leadership Coach focused on guiding others toward greater career fulfillment. He can be contacted at www.glenncasecoaching.com or https://www.linkedin.com/in/glenncase.
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