Confused about what path to take? Using your values to guide choices you will feel happy with. Image courtesy of jessdaphorn at freedigitalphotos.net
In our daily, ritualised schedules, duties and routine as well as our personal past-times we choose, sometimes people may wonder from time to time, why they feel a sense of emptiness and not being fulfilled.
Lately, I have been trying to tap into my motivations for engaging in particular behaviours. Why am I driven to write, for example? Is it a sense of satisfaction from discovering more about one’s self, as the thoughts and feelings that unfold themselves on paper reveal aspects about yourself that you didn’t know you had?
For example, when I write this I realise it is the mere pleasure of playing and enjoying the ‘music’ of language I enjoy. For example, expressing myself accurately, making sure I stay on track with the topic of the article, and trying to write authentically is a process that I enjoy.
For a while, I discovered within myself a motivation to write a ‘good’ article, one that was grammatically correct, and contained accurate and well-written thoughts.
Sometimes, when being totally honest with myself, I find myself trying to pump out article after article. However, it does occur to me pretty quickly that, for me anyway, writing should be authentic and quality should matter, not quantity.
I have noticed that my motivation for writing (it is something that I love to do) is because I personally value the experience of expressing myself on paper as accurately and authentically as possible. When my writing reflects an inner focus on being authentic, the desire and pleasure felt when I express myself accurately, I find that it is a personally fulfilling past-time. When I ‘try too hard’ to write ‘really well’, or to pump out articles hoping for a little more income, it can never be truly satisfying for me personally.
Most writers, from amateurs, who write in their spare time to novelists, must value the process more than the extrinsic ‘rewards’ – the money, except for a very small percentage surely mustn’t motivate us! Or we would all quit pretty quickly! Yet, I know for me personally, when I write I discover it to be a satisfying: self-exploration reveals aspects to one’s self that might not be in one’s conscious until the words unfold onto the page. The pleasure I feel in being able to express myself in a way that I desire to, when the right words come into my mind. If I was to be motivated by money and ‘being successful’ – well I’d either be a ‘nutcase’ or an irrational optimist.
I also like to share my ideas with others, just as reading what others have written is sometimes like looking at yourself in the mirror.
So my value in the sphere of writing is to express myself authentically, and as in a well-written way as possible. As long as I stay connected to this value, I will continue to write: I cannot see myself doing otherwise. If I write just for the sake of writing, without any meaningful purpose but to be prolific, or to earn a desirable income, I would continually feel thwarted.
My desire in writing this article is to express the idea that when we are clear of our motivations to engage in a particular behaviour, if these are in line with our value system, we will have a much greater probability of feeling satisfied. If I am motivated to write for money, for example, then I would have stopped ages ago.
I think for me personally, assessing, defining and refining my own personal value system is the determinant of choosing a lifestyle and adopting behaviours that are a direct reflection of this, and create a pathway to personal satisfaction.
The following are questions you could reflect upon to discover or refine your own personal value system, which is necessary for personal satisfaction. Are you driven by your own intuitive personal compass, living life that reflects your beliefs, or do you feel you are like a puppet on a string, not really aware of why you feel dissatisfied, feeling that life is passing you by…
1. Are the moment-to-moment decisions and behaviour I engage in ‘really me’, a reflection of my own, personal value system ?
2. When do I feel most satisfied, when do I experience pleasure in engaging in the action itself? For example, do I feel a great sense of pleasure gardening? There are no obvious tangible rewards gardening, but this could point to your values including nurturing living things?
3. Why do you engage in an action? Are you obliged to, because of work, or are you chasing someone’s approval or fear their disapproval? When you do something of your own free will, it is a personal value. People may think doing something is ‘you’ but no-one, not even your parents know yourself as you do. Are you acting ‘how people think you are’ or how you really are?
4. If there are no or little extrinsic rewards such as income, would you still do what you are doing? If you quickly decide that you would, then it is highly likely that it reflects who you are, your personal values. Of course, it is necessary and human to have some external motivations, even if it is your knowing out of all the writing I have done, I may have helped someone even a little….
I know that I get far more satisfaction in the very process of writing; far more than I had when I was in a particular job, which paid quite satisfactorily. Therefore, I feel this tells me that expressing myself as well as I can is an important value to me.
5. What do you find yourself doing, after you’ve completed your daily tasks and chores? Do you enjoy spending time with a particular person, or helping a cause you believe in ?
Some values may be:
-contributing to a particular cause
-being tidy and organised/being creative and original
-being a good listener
-recognition in your career
However, there are as many values as there are people in the world, and the list is endless.
The reason that is worthwhile to take a step back from time to time, and question are motivations for performing certain behaviours is to know whether you are doing this because you believe in it, and find it personally satisfying and worthwhile? It is important to ask ourselves whether we are being what other people tell us we are, or if they are imposing their value system onto us, or in your heart of hearts, you know this is you. If you were in the final days of your life, and you reflected upon whether you lived a life being true to yourself, would you feel at peace with yourself?
The importance of recognising and responding to our own personal value system is that our values can then act as a rudder, steering our chosen directions in life. So, get out that compass and enjoy the process of living a life that is purposeful and authentic.