Quit achieving and start aligning.
I have had to do a lot of reprogramming on the idea of “achieving” and what that meant for me. In western society, we are conditioned to want more, have more and be more. This constant energy of more creates a sense within us that who we are and what we have is somehow not enough. Therein lies the “achievement” cycle, the never-ending hamster wheel we find ourselves running on which is as exhausting and unfulfilling as it sounds.
What would it look like if we changed the hamster wheel analogy and replaced it with a path in a beautiful forest with sunlight peaking in and lighting the path for us? I already feel calmer and more excited about walking that path and feeling energized and excited to see what is up ahead, while enjoying the view along the journey.
I think about this path in the forest as a journey of finding alignment in my life. I have replaced the notion of achievement, with a journey of seeking alignment of what is important to me. Creating alignment on these elements in your life will actually create the feelings you were chasing with your achievement energy.
Here are 3 key alignment pillars that have supported my journey;
Passion – get clear on what you are truly passionate about and what to contribute to in the world. This might be a professional passion, or something you pursue outside of your professional life, it doesn’t really matter where it shows up for you, as long as it does. It took me awhile to figure this out, but I am really passionate about elevating the quality of leadership in the world. It breaks my heart to know how many leaders are struggling in their roles (because leadership is demanding!) and I want to reduce the number of people who experience poor leadership and leave great roles to get away from bad management. This clarity of where I am passionate and what I want to do to solve it has guided me down my coaching path. Along with commitment and a heck of a lot of courage, I have stayed on this path to create the business that fulfills me everyday.
Values – get clear on your key values is step one, and then paying attention to where you are able to show up in alignment with your values is step two. Often when we are feeling conflict it is because at a deeper level, our values are being challenged. Brené Brown encourages us to get clear on our two core values, and while I am working on narrowing it down, my top four values are Connection, Freedom, Trust and Respect. When I am able to operate in alignment with these values, I feel completely untethered, fulfilled and peaceful. I have been tested with these values many times, and have left organizations, partnerships and relationships when some or all of these values are missing or challenged. I recently left a board role because I did not feel respected or valued for my contribution. When opportunities present themselves but lack the freedom I need to create and deliver, I won’t take them. If I don’t feel a connection to the work, the people or the organizational mission, I will walk away. Using my core values to guide my decision-making has been the most freeing and impactful way of aligning.
Leverage Your Strengths – what are you naturally good at? What are those things you do, say or think that other people comment on? Where do you receive positive feedback? Getting curious about what your natural talents are and put yourself in situations where you get to use those talents more often! I am a big proponent of self-discovery and exploration (of course – I am a coach you say!), and yet it is surprising how many people go through their entire career without really discovering and embracing their natural and innate talents. I am a fan of StrengthsFinder 2.0 as a simple and cost-effective tool to help you discover those innate talents that are so familiar that you probably don’t realize they are a strength! When I was first introduced to this tool in 2007, I wasn’t feeling particularly confident in my role or valued by my leader at the time. Using strengths finder to give language to my natural talents was just the confidence boost I needed at the time, and in my current role as a leadership coach I am able to leverage my strengths on a daily basis. This level of strengths alignment has empowered me to play bigger than I would have ever thought possible.
The opportunity to reframe achievement to a journey of alignment has been a game changer for me. It happens over time, it feels less stressful, and it allows me to enjoy and appreciate the journey more than the destination. And guess what? Everything I was chasing in my achievement days is happening exponentially in my alignment phase. Of course.
As you ease into the new year, I invite you to reflect on your own journey of alignment through the lens of your passion, values and natural strengths. Is there one area you want to focus on shifting in 2019? Is there something you shift towards? Is there something you need to let go of?
Wishing you a peaceful and fulfilling journey for 2019.