February 6, 2024

When your life changes, it is tempting to jump into something new. Don’t.

A life change can be the perfect time to try something different, or at least try doing something differently. However, throwing yourself into something blindly can be fun, but short-lived.

When we think about our values, we’re able to split them into two groups: those we live by and those we hold. A value that we live by is something that often features in day-to-day life and relates to how we generally conduct ourselves. Having a strong work ethic. Being an active member of the community. Always saying thank you to the bus driver.

A value that we hold is one that we deem to be important, though might not be central to how we live our lives at a given moment in time. For example, we know that fitness and exercise are important for our mental and physical wellbeing, though we might not be doing too much about it. We might not be spending as much time with our family as we would like to.

It is important to note that whether a value is one that we live by or one that we hold, this is by no means permanent. As we grow our priorities change. We may feel less connected to previous aspects of our life or we may have to sacrifice certain values in order to prioritise others.

When a life change occurs, it can suddenly disrupt a value we live by. A child leaving home would be an example of this. Whilst being a good parent may still be a value, you are no longer there to help them with homework or pick them up from sporting classes, so the way that you live by that value is altered and, in a way, reduced. Equally, being hard worker may be a value of yours, but one that is harder to live by when you retire.

Therefore when you can no longer live by a value in the same way, it is natural to feel a little lost, and you may wish to fill your time with a new value. This is a positive thing, but rushing into a project without thinking about what you really care about may leave you questioning why you can’t stay passionate about it.

A more beneficial approach is to take some time to rediscover what matters to you most. This process falls under a type of therapy known as ACT - Acceptance Commitment Therapy. ACT teaches you to accept what is present in life and work towards more value-driven behaviour. By rediscovering what is most important to you, and admitting how satisfied you are with your approximation to that value, you can set goals that have more relevance. You may then find that these goals are far easier to achieve.

Learning Mandarin after retiring may not be the best goal to set yourself if you don’t consider intellectual challenge as one of your key values. If, however, you feel that closeness with your family is a key value, and you don’t feel that it’s a value you currently live by, perhaps your goal can be speaking with an elderly relative every week on the phone, for instance.

Whether we wanted it or not, a life change presents us with the opportunity, or requirement, to do things differently. By setting new goals based around what values we want to live by, we are able to harness change to our advantage, instead of simply navigate it.

If you would like more information on ACT and how it can help you, please contact us at hello@helloself.com.

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