Ever catch yourself saying how much you hate your job? Because I used to do it all the time when I worked retail. It just wasn’t for me. Or, on the contrary, have you ever done something and felt really good about it?
I remember the first time I got that feeling of “this is what I should be doing.” It was when I was tutoring middle school kids. I get the warm buzzing feeling anytime I sit down and teach something to someone. The look on their face when it clicks is like the rush I get when I take a sip of coffee in the morning. But it took me a whole year after the fact to realize why I loved teaching so much. Why is that?
Knowing what you value allows you to understand what fulfills you, which lets you create goals that will lead to more fulfillment. (Values + Goals = Fulfillment)
I remember having to take some really dumb freshman orientation class my first year of college. I hated that class at first. It took everything in me just to roll out of bed to go. Not to sound too cliche, but the struggle was real.
The first half of that class was them telling us how college is nothing like high school. No Sh** Sherlock. How dumb did they think we were? But that class got so much better during the second half. It was no longer about the logistics of being in college and more about exploring why we were in college.
Professor Knight challenged us with a simple question. Why were we in college? And she wouldn’t accept that our parents made us come. We are adults, and if we didn’t want to be there, we could find a job and be full-on adults.
Why did we want a better education? What did we want to accomplish with our lives? How are we going to live lives that fulfilled us?
So we explored what it meant to be fulfilled. We explored what key values we practiced in our everyday life to create goals for our future and ensure our actions aligned with our values. It was way harder than it sounds.
Do you know what kind of headaches she gave me by exploring who I was and what I valued? I was 18 and barely knew myself. I’m a few months away from being 24 now, and I still barely know myself, but I can tell you what I value and how I can apply those values to feel fulfilled.
We all have different skills and interests and how those two things intersect helps narrow down what we value.
I am a pretty patient person, and I think I’m pretty good at explaining complicated stuff into everyday language, which comes in handy when teaching. But I also love to write, so how do I combine my talents with my passions of teaching and writing? I find a job that lets me write about interesting topics like communication and the fundamentals of credit. But I wouldn’t have known this job would give me as much fulfillment as it does if I hadn’t taken the time to explore what I value in life. How cheesy, I know. You can say this is my shorter version of Eat, Pray, Love.
Personal values and core beliefs help shape and define us. What do you believe? Do you see yourself as a person of integrity? Are you a hard worker? What makes you the person others see? I know it feels weird to put yourself in a categorical box, but at the end of the day, it will help you understand yourself better, which will affect your life for the better.
You can’t know what you want in life if you don’t know what you value. I challenge you to a simple exercise that Prof. Knight had me do my Freshman year. Take a look at a list of 50 personal values (you can google a list) and circle the top 5 you think best define you. And then write, in a paragraph or two, what they mean to you.
How can you use your talents and values in your everyday life to feel fulfilled?