Why are you doing what you’re doing? I think it’d be interesting to explore what specifically your head went to in response to that question, but whatever it was, the reason typically lies in what you fundamentally value & believe.
Knowing your why for your lifestyle, goals, and decisions is incredibly important. But even more important, is first knowing your core values and beliefs and where they came from. It takes time and a lot of reflection to do, but you need to know what you value & believe and why, because your whys for everything else flow from that!
There’s some good that obviously comes from being taught values and beliefs growing up by families, organizations, and society. There’s also obviously some absolute truths and things that should always be part of your values and beliefs. But there’s also a lot of secondary values taught as primary, or unhealthy ones taught as normal that might get passed onto you. When you haven’t spent the time reflecting to figure out what you actually value and believe, a huge part of getting to know yourself, by default you’ve adopted what you’re told to value and believe and you live by either what you’ve adopted or what you’re feeling. You end up like a boat without an anchor or sails, at best being pushed and pulled by the waves often not going much of anywhere because you don’t know where, at worst, captizing.
For example, since I know some of this can be kind of high level… you might have been taught overtly or subconsciously growing up that getting good grades was a core value. It’s actually a secondary value, stemming from the core value of growth and education. If you value growth and education, but don’t unpack that is actually what your core value is, and if you’re a terrible test taker, you’ll live constantly feeling defeated and striving to accomplish things that aren’t actually helping you with your core value of growth and learning. Studying to ace tests and get a degree when you could read books and get practical experience could waste months, if not years, of your time and energy not getting you any closer to what you would truly love or your purpose and likely feeling unfulfilled and unhappy.
After you know your core beliefs, you can start unpacking your why behind everything you do. Wow did I have terrible whys for a lot of my life. My heart was in the right place most of the time, but I did so many things (even believed and valued some things) because:
-I didn’t know my why
-It wasn’t connected to a core value/belief
-It was connected to values/beliefs projected onto me that I adopted but I wasn’t truly aligned with
-I was ‘supposed to’
-It was ‘normal/how it’s supposed to be done’
-Or one of the lamest/worst ever, because what other people thought or would think
…it’s a terrible way to live. I’m by no means saying throw out any and all advice… truly wise people learn from those who know more than them. I am saying it’s incredibly important to know first of all what you believe and value, and then have whys that flow out of them.
Knowing and living driven by whys tied to your core beliefs and values, which simply put is living in alignment with yourself, is so rewarding. It gives you peace, purpose & direction, takes some of the stress & confusion out of decision making (decision fatigue is a real thing), and helps you stay grounded and growing. It helps you create a life of purpose and fulfillment. Not living this way causes a lot of inner confusion & conflict, and you end up setting goals or committing to things that you’re not able to follow through with because you weren’t doing them for the right reasons (and often never truly wanted in the first place).
For example, in my last post I talked about my commitment to working out 5-6 days a week. Part of why I was & am consistent with that commitment is because of my why. It’s not just to do it, honestly it’s not even to loose a certain amount of weight or look a certain way. Those reasons are fine as secondary whys, but they used to be my main why for working out. The problem was that they weren’t tied to my core values, so they were never motivating enough for me to be consistent with very long, and/or once I achieved them I stopped. My why now is to take care of myself. That’s why I work out and the main support in me being consistent with it.
More to come on this topic, as it’s one I’m so passionate about, but I’ve paid a lot of attention to taking care of myself, what it looks like, and how it impacts me when I do or don’t over the last year, and what I learned has made self-care one of my core values. I don’t always feel like working out (in fact I rarely feel like it), but I know what it does for me, how I feel mentally and physically when I do it regularly. So showing up and caring for myself, along with prioritizing my mental & physical health, are core values for me.
If you value growing, being the best version of yourself you can be, then dating or hanging out with people who end up influencing you to think negatively and live unhealthfully is conflicting with your core values, and probably causing you to feel conflicted and unhappy when (or after) you do. If you value making a positive impact on our culture and planet, working a for a fast fashion brand that doesn’t support body positivity just because it pays well is going to leave you feeling once again conflicted, as well as empty & unhappy, and will probably result in you performing less than you could and eventually quitting.
What jobs are you taking? What people are you hanging out with? Are you single or dating? What are you putting in your body? What are you reading/consuming? What do you spend your free time doing? How do allow yourself to be treated and how do you treat others? What are your goals for this year?
Why? Is the answer aligned with your core values & beliefs? If you don’t know, that’s ok! It’s never too late to start figuring it out, and it’s always a great investment of your time and energy to do so.
The more you figure out your core values and have a why behind your life choices, the less you settle, waste time, care what other people think, and the more you find freedom and alignment.. And alignment is always better than acceptance.