Think of your life as a road. Your destination: a great life. How you get there is your choice. It’s led by your interests and abilities, which keep you moving along your road, and your values, which serve as your guardrails, the edges that keep you on your road. With a clear vision of your destination, along with clear values, you can keep yourself moving forward on your road in life.
Your guardrails also play an important role in helping you understand when you get triggered. When you have greater awareness of your values, you can better recognize when someone or something bumps the guardrails, challenging your values.
As an example, let’s say excellence is one of your values and a colleague turns in average or poor work. When you are aware of why this irritates or aggravates you (it triggers your value of excellence), you are in a position to intentionally and thoughtfully respond instead of react. You can share your expectations and why the performance challenges a value. You have the ability to solve, stay calm and keep moving.
If you don’t have a clear understanding of your values, you will find yourself all over the place. You won’t be able to stay focused on your goal(s) because you can become easily distracted by all that life can present to you, show you and challenge you with. These distractions require you to need more energy, focus and determination to get back on the road to continue your journey.
But, if you know your values, you’ll see them as providing the edges – the guidance in how to stay on your road and to better understand when you feel triggered. With this awareness, you can use your energy to stay on your road, making your moments count because you know where you are headed and what matters to you.
So how do you develop your guardrails? It’s all based on your values, which you have the responsibility to define. Most of us develop our values over time. Sometimes they come from our families and upbringing. Sometimes they come from us seeing what we don’t want to help us clearly define what we do.
Regardless of where you learned them, it is up to you to constantly review them to determine if they are still yours. It’s not uncommon to discover that a value that was part of your family may no longer be a value of yours, or a belief that came from your school may no longer be true for you.
Your life is your road. You define the edges. Create them, review them and live them so you can stay on your road and constantly move forward in your great life.
Reflect on what values guide your decisions and your life. Articulate them. Then consider where you got these from and if they are still for you. Now you have your guardrails. Your road through life just became clearer and easier.
By Jay Forte
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