3 ways to get your life back on track
Have you ever driven a car that’s out of alignment? It’s one of those things that can sneak up on you without you realizing it. Then one day, you notice that the car is pulling right or left and you’re straining to keep it driving smoothly down the road you’re following.
Sometimes, life can feel that way too. You’re cruising along and then things start to feel off. But it’s hard to figure out exactly what’s causing the problem.
When this happens, it’s time to check your alignment. (No, not your car’s!) I’m talking about the alignment between your behavior and your values. Are you acting in a way that is consistent with what’s most important to you?
There have definitely been times in my life when I’ve gotten off course.
In my early 20’s, I worked at an advertising agency in New York City. It was a little after the Mad Men era, but I was thrilled to have a job in such a glamorous business. A few months after I started, my boss told me I was going to work on one of the agencies biggest accounts. How exciting!
But that initial spark of excitement soon started to fade. My new assignment was on a tobacco account. I’d never smoked and believed it was unhealthy. A fact that was reinforced every day as I sat in smoked filled rooms (yes, people could smoke in meetings back then) strategizing on how to increase sales. Work wasn’t so much fun anymore. I was losing my enthusiasm. The truth was, I felt conflicted. I wanted this job, but selling cigarettes went against my values.
It was a scary decision. I thought I might get fired. But I went to my boss and asked to be put on a different account. Within a few weeks, I was. It might have been a smaller one, but I didn’t care. I could sleep at night again.
Are there areas where your values and behaviors are out of alignment?
Self-care is important to you, but you take care of everyone else first, neglecting your own needs. You value respect, but you’re hard on yourself and focus on your short comings. You want adventure, but you stay safely in your comfort zone. These inconsistencies create tension because you aren’t being true to yourself.
Here are three steps to help you get your actions and values in sync so you’re driving towards your best life:
Step one: Revisit your values. You can’t align your values if you aren’t clear on what they are. And they sometimes change as you do. Family time may be less of a daily priority for you now if you’re an empty nester. Brainstorm a list of your values.
Step two: Identify your top tier. Think about the values on your list. Which are most important to you? Highlight your top 6-8 values.
Step three: Check your alignment. Take a look at your behaviors and your values. How do they match up? Notice where things are inconsistent. Decide how you can start to narrow the gap, then take baby steps to change things.
The next time you start to swerve in a new direction, you’ll do it purposefully, not by accident.