“Knowing who you are, and living who you are is the path to mastering mindful living.” – Melli O’Brien
This is the third and final blog in a series on ‘how to live your truth and master the art of mindful living.’ In this post, we’ll look at how you can translate your values into action steps.
When you have clarity and commitment with your own action plan at the end of this post, you’ll feel a sense of strength and confidence in your ability to live a more meaningful life. A life that’s true to you.
Rightio then. So now you have a clear sense of what your values are, and you have the tools to help you live them in daily life, the next step is to translate your values into committed action in the form of goals.
While knowing our values is absolutely essential, it won’t do us much good if we don’t take any action to live by them!
Before we jump into creating our plan for action, one important thing to note.
In order to remain steadfast in living our values, we need to remain flexible with our goals as circumstances shift and change. An attitude of flexibility allows us to adapt to the inevitable ups and downs of life. While our goals may need to change as our life circumstances inevitably will, we can still respond to what is happening in the moment from our underlying values.
Once you know your values, you can start using goals to create a life that is based around them. For example, if you value mindfulness, a goal could be to practice meditation for 45 minutes a day. If you value adventure, you could create a goal to go on a trip to climb Mount Everest next year. If you value connection, one of your goals might be to call your mother each Friday night.
In Russ Harris’ excellent and very highly recommended book, ‘The Happiness Trap,’ he explains that there are four steps to taking committed action. Let’s go through them now step by step. (You might want to grab a pen or get ready to type somewhere as you go.)
STEP 1 Choose a domain of your life that is a high priority for change.
In which of these domains of your life do you currently feel called to create changes?
Work, parenting, family, spirituality, environment, social life, health, personal growth, leisure, education, romantic relationship or community.
Choose one or two only and write them down.
STEP 2 Choose which values you wish to express in this domain of your life.
What values would you like to express more in this domain of your life? For example, if you feel like you’d like to work on the parenting domain of your life, perhaps the value you’d like to express more in that domain is ‘love’ or maybe it’s a value of ‘flexibility’ that you’d like to express. If you’re working with the social life domain of your life, then maybe you’d like to express and bring forth your value of ‘fun’ more or perhaps ‘connection.’ Do you get the idea?
Okay, so choose and then write down which values you wish to express in this domain of your life.
Russ Harris has a list of values you can view here if that’s helpful for you.
STEP 3 Create specific goals that are guided by those values.
Okay, now it’s time to create your values-guided goals. You want to create goals that express your chosen value in your chosen life domain.
Something to keep in mind – it’s important that these goals you’re about to create truly express your own authentic values (as opposed to goals you think you ‘should’ do or goals that other people would like to see you do). If your goal energizes you and gives you a sense of meaning or purpose, you’re on the right track.
Here are two keys to creating great goals:
Be Specific. Use specific language when you write down your goal. For example, a non-specific goal is to ‘become healthier’ whereas a specific goal is to ‘hire a personal trainor on Monday and then go to the gym five times a week.’ it’s vital that your goal is specific enough for you to clearly recognize whether or not it has been achieved.
Also get very specific about the time frame you wish to achieve your goal by. Set a date for completion of specific action steps.
Be Realistic. Aim to create goals that will nudge you outside of your comfort zone and help you grow, but at the same time are still within realistic reach. Goals that are not realistically achievable could set you up for disappointment, stress and struggle.
Okay, so grab your pen and paper and write down a couple of specific, realistic, value-driven goals right now.
Start with a small immediate goal you can take. What is something small and simple that you can easily achieve within the next day or two?
You can also create a plan of action that will unfold over time.
You can create some immediate goals as mentioned above and you can also create some…
These are values-based actions you can take within the next couple of weeks.
These are goals to be achieved within the next few weeks and months.
Long-term goals are values-based actions you can take within the next few months and years.
So take some time now to write up your action plan for values-based living, broken down into specific, realistic, value-driven goals. Goals for immediate action, short-term goals as well as your medium and long-term goals.
STEP 4 Take immediate action.
The most important step. Take action right now on one of your ‘immediate goals’ as mentioned above. Yep, I mean right now. What can you do to take action in this moment? Perhaps you can add action steps into your planner, make a call, write an email, purchase a course or book online or maybe tell someone about your goal. Can you take one action right now to move you towards living your truth? Do it now.
Even the smallest act of ‘living your truth’ in this way can feel incredibly empowering and uplifting. These small acts of taking control of your life and harnessing your inner resources are a statement of you acting in accordance with your own deepest nature… and that feels very good.
So now at the end of this three-part series, you have a tool kit to know yourself more fully and be yourself more fully, which really is the essence of mindful living. Use these tools to grow in wisdom, strength and vitality each day.
May they serve you well and as always, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to share them in the comments section below.