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The Journey to Unearth Meaning, Purpose, and Wellbeing

I talk about mental health and wellbeing, the situations, thoughts and actions that impact our state of mind. One area that is often missed within this conversation is the importance of meaning and purpose in our lives.

Unlocking our meaning and purpose supports our mental and emotional wellbeing, it gives us a sense of fulfilment. Our values are what guide us to find meaning that resonates, they are our compass in life. What are those deeply held beliefs that shape our decisions and actions and how can we integrate them into our personal and professional lives?

Understanding the Connection Between Values and Wellbeing

Values serve as the core of who we are. They define our identity and steer our actions. These principles, consciously or subconsciously, shape our sense of right and wrong, influence our priorities, and frame the lens through which we perceive the world.

When we align our lives with our values we experience a deep sense of authenticity, a connection with our true selves, and a profound understanding of our purpose in the world. This in turn enhances our resilience to deal with life’s challenges.

Living in harmony with our values provides a natural source of motivation. It makes us more passionate and committed to our pursuits, whether that is our career, relationships, hobbies or personal growth.

This alignment between values and our choices significantly contributes to our mental health and overall wellbeing. It helps reduce internal conflicts and promotes a more positive self-image.

The first step to understanding our values is self-reflection. Pause for a moment:

  • What truly matters to me? Our values may include, honesty, integrity or creativity

  • What are my core values? Not all values are equal. Some hold a more central place in our lives, while others may have less influence. Recognising our core values allows us to prioritise them.

  • What makes me come alive? Consider moments in your life when you felt most alive and fulfilled. These moments often reflect your values in action.

You might want to try this values list or these values exercises to explore your key values. Or for an organisation we have a session Time for Reflection- Focus on your Values

Integration in the Workplace

Once you understand your values, what drives your meaning and purpose, you can explore how you can integrate them into your work life:

  • Career Choice: The ideal scenario is to find a career that aligns with your core values. A values-driven career is more likely to bring a sense of purpose and contentment. If this is not possible there are many ways we can still align with our values.

  • Values in Action: Express your values through your actions. For instance, if one of your core values is empathy, approach your colleagues with a compassionate and understanding attitude. Ask about their day, and show genuine interest.

  • Advocacy: Promote a values-driven culture in your workplace. Share your values with your colleagues and management. Advocate for projects, policies, and initiatives that reflect these values. E.g. if family is a value, advocate for increased paternity leave or flexible working.

  • Goals and Milestones: When setting professional goals, ensure they align with your values, rather than what you feel others expect from you.

Applying Values to Your Personal Life

Personal life is equally vital in the pursuit of wellbeing, life is often full of compromises and at different times we may have less time for “us” but we can still find ways to ensure we are aligning with our values. E.g if learning is our key value but we have caring responsibilities that reduce our time to study. What can we learn from caring? Could we learn about or from the person we are caring for, could we see this as a learning opportunity in empathy or patience?

  • Relationships: Build relationships with individuals who share or respect your values. These connections serve as strong pillars of support in your personal life.

  • Mindfulness: Regularly reflect on your values and how they manifest in your daily life. Mindfulness can help you make conscious choices in line with your values.

  • Time: Notice where your time goes, is it aligned with your values, are you endlessly scrolling on social media and feel you never have time to exercise?

  • Giving back: Volunteering and contributing to causes that align with your values can be immensely satisfying and fulfilling.

Leaders role in supporting organisational values

This last section is for leaders in an organisation, even if you are not a leader or a manager, we can all lead by our behaviours so some of these may still resonate.

Leaders play a pivotal role in creating a culture that supports and reflects the organisation's values. Promoting a values-driven organisation and, in doing so, enhancing workplace wellbeing. Some key actions for leadership:

  • Lead by example: Effective leadership begins with personal integrity. Leaders must embody the values they wish to see throughout the organisation. There is no point saying you value family time/workplace boundaries and sending an email at 9 p.m.

  • Clearly Define Organisational Values: Leaders should work with their teams to articulate a clear set of values that align with the company's mission. These values should serve as guiding principles for decision-making and behaviour. Company value is innovation, so we must show we are open to new ideas/ feedback from the team.

  • Communicate and reinforce values: Consistent and transparent communication is key, the values should be incorporated into meetings, discussions, and training programs, not as an add on but integral to all you do. If a value is listening- ensure there is space for all to voice thoughts at team meetings and more introverted employees are encouraged to share in a supportive manner.

  • Encourage employee involvement: It should be a collaborative effort, encourage employees at all levels to participate in defining and reinforcing the values. When employees feel their voices are heard, they become more invested in the values and the overall success of the organisation.

  • Foster an inclusive and diverse environment: Values-driven organisations value diversity and inclusion. Leaders should champion initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion, ensuring that all employees feel valued and respected, whatever their background or identity.

  • Provide opportunities for growth and development: Supporting employees' personal and professional growth aligns with many values, such as learning, growth, and innovation. Leaders should offer training, mentorship, and opportunities to develop skills and interests.

  • Recognise and celebrate value-driven behaviours: Acknowledge and celebrate employees who exemplify the organisation's values. This can reinforce the importance of these values and motivate others to follow suit.

In conclusion, finding and living by your values is a powerful tool for enhancing your mental health and overall wellbeing. Whether at work or in your personal life, aligning your actions with your values can lead to a more content, meaningful, and purpose-driven existence. It's a journey of self-discovery and continuous self-improvement that can transform your life for the better.

How can you start finding your meaning and purpose today?

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