A word is but a word—or is it?
Consider this: You’re sitting with a friend, discussing the relentless pursuit of success. Maybe your word isn’t success, but happiness, fulfillment or security. It’s just a word—or is it?
This word describes a state that you’d like to be in, that you’d like to call your own. If only you could have more of this. Somehow you know this is what’s missing. Or do you?
Your values help determine your priorities, they shape the way you act and react to the world. Ideally, they are always active, shaping where you focus your time and attention.
According to Hyrum W. Smith, author of What Matters Most – The Power of Living Your Values, “Your governing values are the foundation of personal fulfillment.” Values run deep and are deeply personal. On their own, even values are but words until you attach meaning to them. Only then do they have the power to propel you into the realm of personal fulfillment.
Values translate directly into action; they give meaning to your actions. All the things of importance—the drivers of your life—are reflective of your values. These drivers are the must-have’s, the dimensions of life that you personally define as necessary.
Values live in the present moment. They are not patiently waiting for you to get around to them. They demand present-time attention. The drivers of your life light you up with passion and energize you. They can be key relationships, areas of responsibility, hobbies or interests.
Without these, life seems pointless; futile, frustrating and empty. Very few people can readily list their top 10 drivers, though. It requires deep inquiry to find clarity and discover what fills you up, makes you want to proclaim, “This is a life worth living!”
Getting clear on what your drivers are is the fastest, most effective way to move toward your goal, whether that goal is success, happiness, security or another word.
It’s easy to recognize when a core value has been violated by the nature of your reaction. When a core value is infringed, you feel some degree of distress. If you look closely you can identify the value that has been violated.
For instance, let’s say an orderly life is paramount to you, and we share a cubicle at work. Imagine that I am a disorganized pack rat who cares little for tidiness. Likely every day that we are stuck together in our little cubicle you experience a degree of internal struggle because my disorderliness is violating one of your core values.
If you understand what your core values are, it’s easier to advocate for your needs. Discussing this with me adds awareness for both of us and opens up the possibility of working together in harmony.
Knowing what throws you into distress is the first step to reclaiming your sense of balance.
The same holds true when you speak of the drivers of your life. When you act in ways that do not support your vision, that aren’t in alignment with your core values and do not feed your sense of purpose, the result is distress: feeling depleted, mad, sad or unfulfilled.
Over time, this can lead to disillusionment, depression and eventually disease. Making choices that align with the driving forces of your life means even the really hard choices allow you to find solace and empowerment. They ease the heaviness and ultimately lead to wholeness. When you advocate for yourself, with clarity and confidence, you strengthen the meaning of your life.
Finding the life you desire requires a willingness to be unambiguously honest and clear in looking out for your own best interest. The Eight Dimensions of Wellness is a guide for sorting out what’s important, a visual aid for clarity, and a way to see how your time and energy may or may not be serving your true values. When complete, it can serve as a roadmap to fulfilling your desires.
Dimensions of Wellness
On the following Values Survey, circle 10 concepts that ring true as being integral for your happiness today. Use the list as a starting point. Feel free to write your own words. Understand that this is your current state of being, another day you might feel differently.
These are your drivers; the dimensions of your life that are integral to your happiness.
Clarify Your Dimensions
Words matter. In a sentence or a few words, write what each word means to you. Use the first two columns on the Clarifying Statements worksheet. Be specific: why did you circle this word? What does it mean to you?
Prioritize Your Dimensions
Once you have a list of your top 10 dimensions, it’s time to order them in importance. As you work through this step, stay with your current feelings and impressions. The exercise works when you stay in the present moment.
Follow the instructions on the Prioritizer below. Compare only two dimensions at a time and determine, of the two, which one resonates most deeply with you. If you had to forego one to have the other, which would you choose? Compare only two dimensions at a time. Avoid over-thinking. There are no right or wrong answers.
Label Your Dimensions
Once you complete the prioritization matrix, transfer your top eight priorities to the eight sections of the Wheel of Life, in any order. Where are you now?
With 1 being empty or unfulfilled, and 10 symbolizing fully realized, “I couldn’t be happier with this area of my life,” mark your level of fulfillment today for each dimension. Color these slices to help bring to life where you are now.
Clarify & Redefine
Take time to refine the meaning of each dimension. Embellish on your initial statement. Use the Clarifying Statements worksheet. Describe what it feels like when this area is empty and what it would feel like to be full.
If you’re not a writer, take some time to visualize and imagine it in great detail. Be specific. The greater your clarity, the deeper you will understand your motivations, triggers and needs.
Assign a weekly time budget
What does your current time management plan look like? How much time per week do you currently spend in each dimension? How much time is spent in extraneous tasks that lead you away from your goals, not towards them?
Assign a time budget for each of the Eight Dimensions of your life. Example: If spirituality is one of my Dimensions of Wellness and just 15 minutes a day sitting in meditation significantly improves my life, my time budget for this dimension is just under two hours a week. If preparing and eating a clean diet is another of my Eight Dimensions, my weekly time requirement will be much higher—closer to 15 hours a week.
Compare your newly clarified time budget with your current time management. Seek to find areas that you can begin to shift your energy from the areas that don’t serve you to these areas that you know will fill you up with purpose and drive. Commit to cultivating happiness.
Now you have identified your primary drivers, commit to creating the life you desire by adopting your new time budget. Post your Wheel in a place that you will see it often as a reminder to take care of your needs.
Give yourself the gift of spending time honoring your core values and you will gain a deep sense of self-knowledge and self-empowerment.
Occasionally check in with your Eight Dimensions of Wellness. Whenever life seems out of balance, return to your priorities. Fine-tune your commitment to Self. New insights, more clarity and deeper appreciation for how your life is unfolding will result.
Although your core values rarely change throughout your life, your drivers, the eight dimensions that give your life meaning, may. As you achieve fulfillment in one area, you might find yourself guided in a new direction, creating more nuanced meaning in your life.
Embrace the changes and celebrate living intentionally, in alignment with your Eight Dimensions of Wellness. That’s clarity. That’s the life you desire.
About the Author
Theresa Martin Snyder, L.M.T., R.Y.T.-200 is co-owner of Kharma Life Center. She is a wellness expert, yoga instructor and licensed massage therapist. She began her massage career in 1993. She became a certified yoga instructor in 2012, thus deepening her appreciation of this ancient healing art and science. In 2014, she became a certified life coach.