Journey to Intentionality: Self-discovery, Principles and Values (psychotherapy workshop part 2)
In the post on “self-discovery” (read here), I explained an approach of mine that helped me learn more about myself and put experiences into perspective. As a result of this, I was able to clearly see existing commonalities and trends (whether positive or negative) between the person I was and the person I am. Having established that, I began working towards creating an updated version of myself.
With “self-discovery” out of the way, we move to “principles and values”. This process is still a work-in-progress, so bear with me.
Establishing pre-existing principles/values:
My first step was to establish pre-existing principles/values — highlighted on my grid — that I wanted to maintain. To do this, I needed to be able to:
- clearly articulate what these principles/values were
- know why I wanted to keep them
- explain why I wanted to keep them
Once completed, the next step was to figure out the new principles/values I wanted to adopt (in addition to keeping the existing ones I liked). You may not feel the need to adopt anything new. If that’s the case, skip this section.
Establish new principles/values:
To help establish new principles/values, I had a list of questions I worked towards answering.
Firstly, you need to consider the things that matter to you and will (in)directly impact others. Those are:
- What are my values?
- What do I want my values to be?
- What values do others have that I admire and may want to adopt?
Secondly, you need to consider the things that matter solely to you:
- What do I want from life? By that I mean, when it’s all said and done, what do I want to say I got from living?
Finally, you need to consider:
- How do I work towards answering those questions?
- How do I work towards becoming the person these answers depict?
When it’s all said and done, you want to have lived a fulfilling life. One that has made you happy. The after effects of establishing these principles/values is being remembered well by those around you. Though this shouldn’t be your focus, your values should be constructed in such a way that you are confident with who you are and whatever people say about you should be inline with the person you have set out to be.
This grid is useful to visualise your work thus far:
Working towards the new me:
Once you’ve answered most — preferably all — of the questions highlighted in the previous section, you need to make these principles/values become a part of you. There are a number of ways to do that, and that’s best saved for another post. But at a high level, the easiest (and most effective) way to do so is to make sure your values are visible to you, both in your actions and on paper.
For the former, put habits in place that encompass these principles/values (i.e. if you want to become a more “helpful” person, set time aside each week/month to help one individual). For the latter, print out your values and place them somewhere you’ll see them every day (or set it as your mobile lock-screen).
Another useful tip is to think to yourself “what would someone with these principles/values do? How would they act?”
There are a number of ways to do this, and you most likely know what works best for you. The main thing is taking active steps towards making the most of all the previous work you’ve done to get to this point.
- Map out who you were (the good and bad), and who you currently are (the good and bad).
- Try to understand why you held certain principles/values.
- Clearly articulate the principles/values you want to keep.
- Articulate the principles/values you want to adopt.
- Explain why you want those values.
- Plan how you’ll embody these values.
- Live by them.
This is a long journey, and the whole process is one that needs to be further iterated and improved. However, this was really useful helping me find some ground amidst all that has happened, and all that is happening.
This approach is not meant to be rigid. You are more than what you have been able to articulate. And you can also change. As humans, we adapt, we grow. It’s okay if you’re not the same person in a year’s time. The aim of this is to be able to build a foundation, be able to clearly articulate who you are and what you stand for, and be able to walk with a purpose. Having a set of principles, guidelines, whatever you want to call it, will help you easily navigate life (if you’re one who thinks a lot).
I will be fine-tuning this process further; but if you have any questions, reach out to me on Twitter.
[P.S. I used principles, values, traits, virtues, interchangeably here. Though they don’t mean the same thing, the sentiment in my writing is the same.]