A few months before my wedding, my partner and I sat down with our officiants. We were bogged down by the decisions of what chairs to rent, what shoes to buy, and how we were going to get food to the middle of a field. Our officiants offered us a moment to pause. They said, let’s imagine it’s the day after your wedding. What are y’all excited about? What do you remember? They had us talk about the day as if it had already happened. After some awkward giggles and attempts to figure out if we were getting it right, the conversation started flowing.
“I love that we danced all night long under the stars.”
“We committed not just to our relationship but to being in relationship with our
“I got to hug every single person.”
“I can’t believe all these important people traveled all that way!”
“Your dance moves were on point.”
This prompt changed our process of wedding planning dramatically. We took note of what truly mattered to us – dancing with the people we love – and crafted our entire wedding weekend around it. We found the best DJ in town (shout out to Whitney Shroyer) and tailored our ceremony to honor the important people in our lives. The chairs, the shoes, and the logistics didn’t feel as stressful. It all fell in line when we focused on our values. When I was helping a friend plan her wedding, I shared the same prompt with her. Her responses differed so much from ours.
“The pig roast brought everyone together.”
“The food was incredible.”
“All of our loved ones enjoyed a beautiful meal together.”
And another friend said,
“It was so much fun.”
“It was silly and creative.”
“It was unlike anything I had ever seen before.”
Each of these weddings had the same elements. A ceremony, dancing, food, etc… They each, however, felt like glorious reflections of who the couple was and how they wanted to celebrate. This prompt took us out of the nitty-gritty details and expectations. It provided us with clarity and a vision of what we wanted to create. Taking the time to clarify the values and qualities that we wanted to experience, helped us move through the tedium of planning an event and feel clear about what we wanted to put our energy into and what was not important.
Ever feel bogged down about moving through the complexities of life, love and work? I’m not alone in feeling in the weeds sometimes, right? This blog post is not about wedding planning. (Although, I do recommend giving that prompt a try). It’s a reflection on how values offer clarity and direction in the complexities of life. Life gets so messy and unclear. We are constantly asked to make decisions, address conflict, take a job, leave a job, and on and on and on. If you’re anything like me, this can get overwhelming.
I have found that in this journey through life, understanding and identifying my core values can lead to clarity in times of confusion. These values act as guiding principles that shape decisions, actions, and interactions with others. They help me navigate through the murkiness and uncertainties, providing a compass to guide me towards what truly matters. It shifts me from the “what should I do” to “what is important to me in life”. When I live in alignment with my values, I often experience a greater sense of fulfillment, purpose, and authenticity.
Values are deeply personal and unique to each individual. They reflect our beliefs, priorities, and what we hold dear. They are often what shape our relationships, our goals, and our sense of self. Taking the time to explore and clarify our values can be a transformative process, allowing us to gain insight into ourselves and what drives us.
Living according to our values requires conscious effort and deliberate choices. It means being aware of the principles that guide us and making decisions that align with them. It also means being willing to make adjustments and course corrections along the way. Life is dynamic, and our values may evolve and change as we grow and gain new experiences. It’s important to regularly revisit and reassess our values to ensure they remain true and relevant to our lives.
When we live in alignment with our values, we can experience a deep sense of fulfillment and meaning. Our actions become more purposeful, and we feel a greater sense of authenticity. We are better equipped to navigate challenges and make decisions that reflect our true selves. Living a values-driven life also fosters stronger relationships and connections with others. When we honor our values, we attract and surround ourselves with like-minded individuals who share similar principles.
In a world that often pulls us in various directions, staying grounded in our values becomes even more crucial. It’s easy to get caught up in external expectations, societal pressures, and the pursuit of external validation. However, when we stay true to our values, we can navigate these external influences with greater resilience and clarity. Our values serve as a compass, guiding us towards the path that feels authentic and aligned with who we are.
Back to the wedding planning prompt. It is an approach I attempt to take when navigating the complexities and nuances of life. I come back to what do I want to guide me? What would a decision based on my values system look like? I’m attempting to shift away from trying to decipher what’s the right thing, best thing, or even most enjoyable thing to what is in alignment with my values. It’s a simple shift, but a shift that has given me so much freedom and clarity. Identifying and living our values is a deeply personal and ongoing process. It requires self-reflection, introspection, and a willingness to explore our inner selves. Here are some steps to help you on this journey:
1. Reflection: Take time to reflect on your life and experiences. What moments have brought you the most joy and fulfillment? What values were present in those moments? Consider the times when you felt most aligned with your true self.
2. Identify core values: Make a list of values that resonate with you. These can be words or phrases that capture what you hold dear. Consider qualities you admire in others or principles that guide your decision-making.
3. Align actions with values: Take a look at your daily life and actions. Are they in alignment with your values? Identify areas where you may be veering off course and make adjustments to realign your actions with your values.
4. Revisit and reassess: Regularly revisit and reassess your values. As you grow and evolve, your values may shift. Make sure your values continue to reflect who you are and what you aspire to be.