In the fall of 2015, my husband and I made one of the hardest decisions of our lives.
At the time, we were preparing to move our family of five to Port-au-Prince, Haiti to do humanitarian work. We took various non-profit management and cultural integration classes, filled out countless forms, and worked tirelessly on a fundraising campaign that would provide financial support for our family and funds to invest in a water well project. We even gave our employer letters of resignation.
We had a strong sense that God was calling us to the people of Haiti. We had served in Port-au-Prince for a full year at the beginning of our marriage and always had the desire to go back. We were nearly fluent in Creole, the main spoken language, and loved the culture. It also seemed to be the right time as our kids were at a good age to participate in such a bold move. We were all ready for the challenge.
Then, the unexpected happened. We discovered that two of our kids had significant learning challenges and health problems that would require a great deal of medical and academic support — the kind of support that would have been severely limited in the mission field we were about to enter.
This is when I experienced coaching for the first time. I sat across the table from my coach in tears, presenting my predicament. While I felt we needed to abort the move to Haiti and remain in Canada for the well-being of our family, I was completely paralyzed. I could not imagine disappointing those who had invested time and energy into training us, the friends and family who gave sacrificially to our cause, and most of all, God himself, who placed the desire in our hearts. I hated the feeling of letting them all down.
It was at this critical moment that my coach asked me this simple question:
What is most important to you?
This single question dispelled the fog and helped me gain the clarity I needed to make the hard decision. My kids mattered more than any exciting opportunity. Caring for the needs of my kids was, and still is, a core value of mine — one that defines me. That day, we decided to halt the move to Haiti and cease our involvement with the water well. The fact that many in our circle of influence were intimately aware of our plans made it even more difficult to withdraw. I NEVER regretted that decision.
Identifying family as one of my core values also influenced future decisions: homeschooling my daughter, traveling less for work, coaching my son’s hockey team, and saying no to various speaking opportunities. Naming my value of personal growth propelled me to finally get my Masters in Leadership, to become certified as a Life Coach, and now, to do a rigorous business program, hustling to build a thriving practice.
Naming my Core Values became the springboard to my personal growth, and it can be the same for you. Here’s why…
When we NAME OUR CORE VALUES, we GAIN THE CLARITY needed to propel ourselves toward the most fulfilling, meaningful, and impactful days of our lives.
Three Benefits Of Naming Your Core Values
Identifying your core values comes with many benefits. Here are my top three:
1. Quickly identify what matters to you. Values provide a snapshot of who you truly are and what deeply matters to you. They are your ideals. They take the form of moral standards, deeply held beliefs, and pearls of wisdom that bring meaning and success to your life. They are a set of principles embodied in the behaviors, relationships, and activities that you choose to nurture. They are the foundation of your character, your ethics, and even your dreams. Simply stated, values are the motivators that drive your actions.
For example, some of my values are:
Personal growth and development
Living with purpose and intentionality
Creating a legacy of faith
Your values allow you to discern between…
WHAT OTHERS THINK I SHOULD DO — the spoken and unspoken expectations placed on you
WHAT I CAN DO BUT DON’T NECESSARILY HAVE TO — the various options presented to you competing for your energy
WHAT I REALLY WANT TO DO — the meaningful activities you must focus on in order to reach your goals.
Remember my decision to remain in Canada for the sake of my family? When I was able to step back and look at my circumstances through the lens of my values, I moved from a place of agony to pure peace and clarity. It was a no-brainer. I knew exactly what to do.
Imagine yourself singing beautifully a capella. It sounds melodious until you start the soundtrack and realize that you were off key all along. So you quiet yourself, listen attentively, and tune into the music, then you can sing your heart out on the right pitch.
In the same way, your Core Values allow you to shut out the noise around you and listen to the rhythms of your heart — what matters most to you. Core Values allow you to gain clarity and confidence so that you can unapologetically be who you truly are and do what you need to do.
Sounds like freedom?
Well, it is.
In closing, let me ask you these coaching questions:
What are your Core Values? What is most important to you?
How do you spend most of your time, money, and energy right now? Evaluate your life, your daily grind of living, in light of your habits.
What is ONE THING you can do TODAY?
You won't EVER regret it.