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Defining Your Core Values: A Guide to Living a Meaningful Life

The response I received from my blog post on surviving a break up was overwhelming! I was taken aback by the number of girls that identified with what I am going through and found my advice helpful and insightful. It has basically thrown me into a Break-up Bootcamp series, outlining my process. I know I promised a post sharing all the embarrassing and uncomfortable details of my dating experience, but it may be a pre-mature transition given that dating, while very entertaining, has not been a very significant step in my journey, not yet anyway. Before I could even start to think about dating as an option I had to come to terms with why my relationship ended, what I want to do differently in my next one and uncovering who I am as a “me”, not a “we” after being a “we” for so long.

What are Values

This brought me to values, which I had previously viewed as virtues. Although there is some overlap, values are the things that hold importance in our lives. Things like creativity, justice, leadership, meaningful work, self-respect, or adventure. Fundamental core beliefs that act as a guide for understanding what makes us who we are.

Understanding Values

I have always had an uncomfortable response to the term happy. Happiness is an emotion not a state of being, so it is challenging for me when people say that they just aren’t happy. I find this is a common excuse people use to describe the demise of their relationships, they just weren’t happy anymore. It is challenging for me because it is impossible to feel happy all the time and it is also a huge ask to rely on a partner to be the main source of your happiness. That is a rant for another day…

I think a more fitting term is fulfilled. Which is very important, the more people infringe on your values, the less you feel like your true self. Uncovering my values has helped me make time for the things that are important to me and worry less about making others happy so I can be happy too. As simple as it sounds, I do feel better about myself and about my surroundings when I make time for all my core values.

Choosing My Core Values

When I first chose my core values, I had a very idealistic view of what they were. I basically replicated what I had read in every self-development book, I chose gratitude and accomplishment, all things I felt should be important to me. It took me reflecting and analyzing myself to realize these probably aren’t things I valued at all. My values were things that I enjoyed doing and things that I had not made time for over the years but I felt that it was missing.

I was finally able to narrow them down to:

  • Friendship/Fun
  • Travel
  • Financial Stability
  • Emotional Processing
  • Honesty
  • Creativity

I realized quite a few of these values were not being respected in my relationship, but I am really the only one responsible for making sure that these values are being met. Since my break-up, I have made time for my friends, I try to plan quick getaways and I am very budget-conscious.

For the first time in a while, I unpack all my feelings and try to get to the root of why I am feeling a certain way. I also probably over-communicate with my poor friends who have had to fall prey to my new constant rediscovery. I try to maintain honest relationships with the people around me and I like to learn new things as a creative outlet for myself.

Why Are Values Meaningful

I think as millennials, we tend to live in a state of unease; our friends posting on social media without us makes us feel isolated or we tend to get frustrated when we feel smarter than our superiors but we are being underutilized and underappreciated at work. Our everyday life consists of obsessively multitasking, getting impatient with tedious tasks and being in constant communication with one another through group chats and social media. It is hard to let go of all the noise and figure out what is worthwhile to spend time on.

Although we are a generation of ‘treat yo-self’ and ‘selfcare Sundays’, we often think of taking care of ourselves as buying something nice or doing a face mask. While making the time for yourself or indulging in an expensive gift may be nice, it is not exactly getting us any closer to knowing what it is we actually want or getting any more in tune with what our values are.

Discovering Your Own Values

Again, I am not an expert. I just found this to be a useful exercise, to not only break apart my relationship and why it didn’t work but to also make sure in the future, I make time for the things that are important to me. It also helped me to find the calm after the storm. I found myself with so much free time that initially was mostly spent obsessing. By filling my time with the things that actually felt productive to me, I started to feel so much better.

I definitely think it is a valuable activity to help you with self-reflection. I found an exercise online with a list of values to use as a reference if you want to go through and figure out what your own personal values are.

2 Comments

  • Carissa

    Powerful thoughts girl! Thank you for sharing. I love those values and although I speak from experience on “compromising” some of my own for my husbands values I think it’s true to define these and how to find a partner where the most important overlap or look similar! Your a inspiration. Thanks for being vulnerable for us all in this great blog!

    • Jaemie

      I totally agree with you. Knowing your partners values and being willing to compromise is deffinitely key. Thanks for reading!

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