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how understanding my values removed the need to get motivated to do anything…

January 25, 2010

There is nothing to do but always action to be taken.

– William Whitecloud, The Magician’s Way

I have heard and read a lot about the importance of values over the years. I have worked for corporations that make a great deal of fuss about their ‘corporate values’. I have attended more than one workshop and read more than one book that has emphasised the importance of identifying your own values. But, I am a slow learner and it hasn’t been until the last few weeks that I have come to understand why.

It was in Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” that I first recall trying to get a handle on my values. I was much younger then and though I gave it a go I think I only really identified who was important to me. I have tried a couple of times since but it was only recently that I went through the process again that the penny finally dropped.

The process I followed challenged me to set myself some goals and then to look at them and draw out the values or beliefs that underpin each of the goals. Then you look at the list that results and ask what core values underpins them all (this was the first time I had gone down the additional level). Then you go back to the original list of goals and check to see that each one of them is consistent with the core values.

The impact of taking this one extra step has been profound. For me, it has removed the need to get motivated to do anything!

And that was when I realised that I had finally understood what people had been telling me for years. Now that my goals are aligned with my core values the journey towards achieving those goals has become almost effortless.  Now, that is not to say that I am just sitting back with a cold drink waiting for the cheques to arrive in the mail.

One of my goals is to continue my practice of Aikido and develop my understanding of the Art to a black belt level and beyond. Until about nine months ago it had been a very long time since I had stepped into a dojo and then in November and December I struggled with back issues and a general lack of fitness. It was taking a lot of effort to get motivated to exercise.

Now that I have more clarity around my vision of where I want to take my life and why (my core values) I am finding that I rarely need to get motivated to do anything.  During the last three weeks my program has included walking, swimming, Pilates, stretching, eating better and reducing my intake of coffee and alcohol.  I haven’t needed to schedule the walking in my diary so that I will have time to get motivated to do it – I just find myself putting on my shoes. I find myself making different choices for lunch and swapping the second coffee for a chai latte without any sense that I am denying myself.

I was sharing my experience with a friend of mine who told me she had recently discovered much the same thing. She has always enjoyed bushwalking and thought that as she was unhappy with her body shape, bushwalking would be a good way to go. She increased the frequency of her walks but found that not only had her body shape not changed but she had begun to dislike walking in the bush.  Reflecting on her situation she said that she realised that the connection that she feels with nature, the energy she feels (and receives) from the ecosystem she walks through is what she values most.

She said she abandoned her forced marches and began focussing on just enjoying the time she spent in the bush.  “Do you know what happened?” she asked me. “I can’t wait to go walking… and my body shape has changed and I look great!”

For both of us a clearer understanding of our values removed the need to get motivated to do anything.  I know that it is taking a lot less of my energy and it is making me a lot happier in the process.

I would love to hear your experiences around identifying and working with your values and goals – leave a comment. I have to warn you though, I am a very slow learner…

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. littlebro permalink
    January 27, 2010 3:28 am

    Seems to me that this is perfect “aiki” – coming together of values and goals. I think it’s the aiki that provides the motivation, not removes it – “motive: something that causes a person to act in a certain way, do a certain thing, etc; incentive” (dictinary.com)”.

    Values (when aligned) drive action towards Goals – nice.

    Chai latte – now that’s taking it a bit too far!

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