Creating a Life Worth Living

by Brenda Bomgardner, MA, NCC

Deep down inside, what do you really want? What’s important to you? What’s your hearts deepest desire? People often answer with such things, as “I just want to be happy.” “I want to be rich.” “I want to be successful.” “I want respect.” “I want a great job.”

Now these are truthful answers, but they are not particularly “deep,” reflective, or carefully considered. To go deeper we can ask questions like “How would you behave differently in relationships if you were rich or successful?” “What sort of relationships do you want to build with yourself and others if you were living your idea self?” These questions point to the underlying values connected to your heart and soul’s deepest desire.

Connecting with your values gives you a sense of meaning and purpose. Living and creating a life guided by values allows you to gain a sense of vitality and joyfulness. Life becomes rich, full, and meaningful, even when bad things happen. Values are about ongoing action, a way of being in the world. They are about what you want to do in your life while you are here. Like a compass, values point us in a direction to live our life.

Life involves hard work. All meaningful projects require effort, whether you’re raising kids, renovating your house, learning a new healthy life style, or starting your won business. Often we think, “It’s too hard,” and we give up or avoid trying. Values motivate us to stick with it. They help us to engage in the process of achieving our goals.

It’s importance to recognize that values are not the same as goals. As mentioned earlier, values are a life direction like going west. You never reach the end of west. For example, let’s say you value being a loving parent, you can continue to be loving indefinitely. Goals become part of the ongoing action connected to values. Hence, you may decide you have a goal of spending time playing with your kids, planning and going on outings with them or reading with them. These specific activities can be crossed off a list. Hence, they are the goals connected to your value of being a loving parent.

Goal setting is quite a skill and it does require a bit of practice to get the hang of it. After you have reflect on your values write them down so you can refer back to them as you develop your action plan.

Next, you want to set a SMART goal. Here is what the acronym means: S = specific (Be as clear as possible when describing the action you are will to take towards your goal.). M = meaningful (Make sure your goal is connected to your value). A = adaptive (Is the goal likely to improve your life in some way?) R = realistic (Are the resources available to you to accomplish the goal?) T = time bound (Put a specific time frame with date or even hour you will take proposed action.)

Now that you set a goal take some time to identify the benefits. Clarify to yourself the positive outcomes to achieving your goal. Finally, be willing to identify obstacles that may present difficulties in achieving your goal and possible ways to deal with the obstacles. Obstacles can be external such as lack of money, transportation or lack of skills. Other obstacles can be internal difficulties such as thoughts of insecurity, low self-esteem, and self-doubt. If the goal seems too big break it down into smaller parts. The important thing is to start to take action toward your goals. Tell other people about your intention to achieve the goal. Research shows that if you make a public commitment you are more likely to follow through. Values clarification and goal setting (committed action) are part of the process in Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT). The aim of ACT is to help people reduce their struggle with pain and suffering and choose behaviors that work. It does not mean you will not experience difficult feelings, it means you can have a sense of life being fulfilling and with purpose based your unique set of values.

 

Brenda is founder of Creating Your Beyond. She works with people whose lives have been touched by act of violence and are ready to create a life beyond trauma. She helps people create a life they love living. She uses evidenced based therapies such as Acceptance, Commitment Therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization, and Reprocessing with proven results based on scientific research. Creating Your Beyond is the result of over 35 years of creative growth from embracing what life has to offer in the areas of career, family, health, and spirituality. Before becoming a counselor, Brenda completed a successful career in human resources with over 15 years experience in recruiting, training, and coaching. She understands the process of creating a life of passion. Contact: 720-260-7702; http://www.creatingyourbeyond.com; brendabomgardner@aol.com

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