Have You Defined What is Important to YOU?

Have you ever sat down and truly defined your core valuesCSTSJourneyman and what is important to you? Do you know your core values and what you stand for? In order to live on purpose and support what is important to you, these are decisions that need to be made – by you – by digging deep down inside of yourself.

Without knowing your core values and what you stand for – you’ll be in a state of confusion and potentially in chaos. These values are like the foundation your house is built on. When your values disintegrate, everything around you also disintegrates because your actions are not in sync with your belief system and core values. This is also known as cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is “the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values”.  Wow, that is a mouth full.  In today’s technology and interconnected world, we are getting introduced to new ideas and others beliefs at crazy speeds.  It is more important than ever to know what you stand for, your beliefs and your foundation.

Take a step back from trying to understand your core values and simply answer this question. Do I know what I will absolutely say YES and NO to? If you can’t answer this question (which is normal), it is time to define your core values – and that is not a one-time event.

One important fact you must keep front and center is that as you get into this process of identifying, clarifying, and writing down your core values, it is not a single event. You do not do this once and forget about it.  This is a dynamic and evolutionary process. In order to start the process of defining your core values, you have to open your mind to new possibilities of thinking.

Remember this “Your mind is like a parachute – it only works when it is open.”

Here are some questions and exercises to get you ready to define your core values.

If You Had a Camera On You- Would You Act Different?

If you really had a camera on you – recording your every move – would you act differently in situations? CameraIt’s a good question that we all should acid test to ensure we are living the life we want. Our actions should be in sync with our beliefs – otherwise we are in a state of cognitive dissonance.

I think about this sometimes to check myself. I want my wife and daughters to be proud of me if one of their friends saw me in public with friends, co-workers, or anyone else. We all should know what we stand for, what we are going to say yes and no to, and how we want to treat others.  But are you doing that 100% of the time? If you were secretly being filmed, would your actions be different?

  • If you were out to dinner or at a bar with friends without your spouse or person you are dating, would you act differently if he or she was there?
    • What if he or she was filming you, would they be proud of you?
    • Would they be surprised at your words or actions?
  • Are you responding to others with respect in a way your kids or circle of influence would appreciate you?

Do You Have a BHAG?

A BHAG stands for “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” and was proposed flag poleby Jim Collins in his book Built to Last. I read this book a few years back and although it was initially meant for businesses, it has been adopted for personal mission statements or the one thing that people would like to accomplish in their life that is a huge stretch.

I thought of this acronym when my wife and I were driving to Green Bay, Wisconsin visiting my brother. We passed this huge flag and pole in front of the company Acuity in Sheboygan. I asked my brother about this and he said it is the world’s tallest flag pole. I replied – the world’s? His reply was yes, and it was a new one this year as the old one fell down because the flag was so big. That intrigued me so I dug into it a bit and here is what I found.

Acuity dedicated this 400 foot flagpole that’s flying an American flag measuring 60 feet high by 120 feet long. The flagpole was dedicated on June 16th of 2015 which makes sense why I haven’t noticed it after 25 years of driving up to Green Bay with my wife. The flagpole is one of the most visible landmarks on the Interstate 43 corridor, and the flag was raised as a symbol of gratitude to our country and those who defend it. At the base of the pole is a Veterans Memorial, which features the names of every Sheboygan County veteran killed in the line of duty.

How Good Are You At Listening?

Being a good listener is more important than it ever has been. With all the communication options – texting, Twitter, Snapchat, Ear 2Facebook, and all the social media options – miscommunication and misinterpretation can easily happen.

With so many quickly advancing technology options available, it seems we have to talk faster, walk faster, and cram more things into shorter periods of time. This can be helpful for accomplishing some things, but listening isn’t one of those things –especially when the other person needs to be heard.

I used to be bad at this – especially with my wife.  I wanted to solve her problems or solve what I perceived were her problems.   Recently I am more aware of this and even with myself, sometimes I tell the other person I may be talking with “I just need to talk out loud” so I can process my thoughts.

So really, how good do you think you are at listening?

Are You Preserving Your Life for You Only?

Are you holding back or preserving part of you for only you? Are you leveraging the lessons Sun Beamyou learned through all your experiences for only you? A lot of people do this and it can be a waste if you don’t apply all the lessons you learned to help others.

I mentioned in my previous blogs, my wife and I are Version 2 of our relationship. We re-invented it because we knew we were going to be empty-nesters (which just recently happened) and we wanted to be intentional about our life and our relationship.

So many times Round 1 or Version 1 of life is about us and things we HAVE to do – which is natural.  Many of us are just trying to “make it”, survive, be successful or just get to the point where we can be self-sufficient. Round 1 is usually packed with a lot of lessons, experiences, and pain which is part of the plan to make us more complete and mature.

How Successful Was Your January?

January 2016 is officially over, you can’t get it back but you can learn from it if you take the time to review what happened. Life Retrospective PicThis type of review (sometimes called a retrospective) can help you adjust your actions, goals, and time management to keep you headed in the proper direction. All of us fall into the trap of plowing through our days without taking time to review or sometimes not even plan.

I thought about this quite a bit as I was repairing my elliptical machine this past weekend. What I thought would be a simple lift motor replacement on the elliptical ended up being a bigger job. The lift motor – which raises the petals up and down – locked up and broke. I had to take the machine apart to figure this out which was a job in itself, but I tore it apart to isolate the problem. I went online, ordered the part, waited a week and put the motor in – which wasn’t easy. After I put the motor in, I determined the circuit board blew when the motor locked up so I ordered that part and replaced it. Then I found out the Android tablet that controls the circuit board and motor was not booting up to the iFit application so I had to go online and chat with support to determine how to reload that. FINALLY SUCCESS!!!

How You Are Doing in Your Life Domains?

Complete your Wheel of Life assessment.

My wife and I recently completed our life plans by a certified life coach from the Patterson Center. It is a rigorous 2-day process that challenged us to think deeper than we have in a while. Thinking about our legacy, our passions, our natural wirings, and documenting how we got to become who we are today is a rewarding exercise. Part of our plan is to get LifePlan certified in April this year so we can help others live intentionally and on purpose.

Reviewing and planning for all the domains in your life is something that I feel everyone should do. There are a few variations on the number of domains of life but I think most of them fall into major categories with a few subcategories for clarification. It’s a good idea for you to measure how you are doing in each of them just to get a visualization on where you are. If one of the domain scores is low, your life may have a flat spot which will eventually affect you. I did some research on the wheel of life assessments and below is what I found from a comparison standpoint.

I did some additional digging and it turns out the wheel of life originated with Buddha in about 500 B.C. to assess a person’s inner psychological state. The Wheel of Life has had a few names over the years like wheel of balance, wheel of happiness, etc. Bottom line, it can help you gauge if you have a flat spot in your life.

My Wheel of Life comparisons are below:

How Self Aware Are YOU?

Being self-aware can be a secret advantage if you can get there. Car Mirror2Most people don’t realize that being self-aware can advance them in their career, in their relationships, in their home life, and simply just be a happier person in life. I first learned of the concept of being self-aware when I read the book Emotional Intelligence. It complimented my belief that focusing on your strengths vs. your weaknesses is the best thing you can do for you.

In business, very few people like to talk about their weaknesses – let alone strive to be self-aware so they know how they are being perceived and treating other people. Being self-aware allows you to recognize what you do best, where your strengths are AND allows you to understand and accept your weaknesses.

I’ve been working with my family, friends and co-workers on understanding their strengths and natural wiring so they can be the best they can be. This will accelerate you to being the best you in every capacity. Once you understand your strengths, you can work on self-regulation which is the next step of improving you. There are many ways to get the process started but you have to be open to the understanding that you have weaknesses!  You need to be aware of them and make sure they are covered but not the focus of what you do.

“You will be happier in all aspects of life – the more you are aware of YOU!!!”

Are Your Goals Aligned with Your Chapter of Life?

Wow, what a week to start out 2016. We moved our youngest daughter into college and our oldest daughter got engaged. AbbyEngage Emily IUBTwo major events in two days and it was only 8 days into the New Year! My wife and I started our journey down to Indiana University in Bloomington Indiana, then to Louisville to have dinner with some friends, then off to Nashville, TN for our daughter’s engagement celebration surprise. It was a great road trip with a lot of emotions around each stop.

My wife and I were able to have some great conversations and had time to reflect on what chapter of life our daughters are in and where we are as a couple. As I have stated in some previous blogs, my wife and I have been actively working on Version 2 of us and now that we are “empty nesters”, it’s fun to see things unfold for us and for our daughters.

We tried to be very aware of who our daughters were “hanging” around with as well as who we were surrounding ourselves with as this can be a big influence on who you become. No matter how you stack it, the people you “hang” around with have influence on you in many ways. It’s neat to see our daughters become young ladies of positive influence whether they totally realize it or not.

What Traditions Are You Keeping?

Traditions are great if they are for the right reasons. Face it, some traditions just need to go away, Girls with Christmas Stockings v2but others should be embraced and kept on the intentional list. Do you have an intentional list? Things you want to be constant in your life.

With life flying by, we think of things in weeks, months and even years. Days are rarely a conscious thought from a planning perspective. I heard a quote somewhere that stated “if you don’t plan your days and weeks, someone else will plan them for you”. I feel that is very true and that is why I am intentional about a few traditions in my life. Just to name a few:

  • Date nights and intentional time with my wife.
  • Intentional time with my daughters (no matter where they live).
  • Protecting and continuous reminders of my life priorities to help me make daily decisions.
  • Planning my year out to the best of my abilities (understand things will be adjusted).
  • Remembering what refuels me so I am the best person I can be for me and others I can help.
  • Working out so I am healthy so I can continue to help others.
  • My morning routine to workout, plan my day, my devotions, journaling and just quiet time.