Finding your way in 2024

minds matter

Sree Mitra

January 5, 2024

All that is gold does not glitter,

Not all those who wander are lost;

The old that is strong does not wither,

Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Author: Dr Steve Hickman

Have you ever gone walking in nature and become so captivated by what you found there that, at some point, you looked up and realized you had no idea where in the heck you were? It happens to us now and then when we become absorbed in something that captures our attention. As Tolkien said above, “Not all those who wander are lost”, and there is certainly adventure to be found in wandering.

But on the other hand, some who wander actually ARE lost! Meaning that we can easily meander through our daily routine at work (or at home, for that matter) and chase the next shiny object or stamp out the next fire and find ourselves, metaphorically speaking, lost in the woods. In other words, we can easily drift from our inner compass of core values that each of us carries with us. This compass is made up of the things that bring us meaning, purpose, fulfillment and happiness.

The new year can be an opportunity to check in with your core values and see where you’ve drifted off course (or outright jumped the tracks!) and make some important course corrections to bring yourself closer to what is most important to you. The potential examples are endless.

Perhaps you volunteered to work night shifts because you’re a team player and your team was in a pinch for coverage, even though you much prefer day shift.

Maybe you have developed a pattern of responding so quickly to demands from your boss that they have begun asking if you’re feeling OK if you don’t respond within minutes to an email.

Or you’ve discovered that the increase in pay from the promotion you accepted was nice, but you frankly got more satisfaction from your old position that had more direct contact with customers.

The reasons we drift off course are sometimes practical, sometimes financial, sometimes inadvertent, and often made reflexively from a place of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), a wish to be liked or appreciated, a financial fear or simply a desire for variety. All are reasonable factors to consider, but when we have more perspective and look at the big picture, these may have been detours from a larger life journey that have put you farther from your core values.

Core values are the things that float your boat, get you out of bed in the morning, and spark joy when you are following them. They are not goals or destinations you can reach, but more like directions that lead you into territory that feeds you. And everyone has a different core value profile. You might treasure creativity and adventure, where your friend Hakeem might have order and security as his core values. In this case, a freelance opportunity to travel would be heaven to you, but living hell for Hakeem.

Taking the time to really drill down into what your core values are, can be the first step toward aligning yourself more closely with those core values by making decisions and course corrections. When you think about what you value most, you are beginning to identify the points on your particular personal compass of values. Each time you identify one core value (say, connection, collaboration, transformation, leadership), take some time to savor it a bit and even ask yourself if there is something underneath that that is even more core to your being.

Starting off 2024 by reflecting on and identifying your core values is a great way to get a “reset” on your life and your work. Write them down and look at them regularly, so you can be alert to places in your life where you are not living in accord with those values, and consider what you can do to move in valued directions instead. Having your core values in mind when you are faced with decisions (large and small) can lead you, over time, to what your heart truly desires.

Consider the ship that leaves port in San Francisco and heads toward Sydney. Even the tiniest variation in course (¼ of a degree) can end up with the ship missing Australia entirely! Tiny shifts in the course of a life can be the same.

Where can you make shifts to bring greater alignment with your core values?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *