Last week I attended a fantastic talk hosted by Action For Happiness. The guest was Dr Rangan Chatterjee and he was talking about the link between mental health and physical wellbeing and how both are closely related to happiness.
I was very pleased to hear him advocating for people to be aware of and live in alignment with their personal values; as this is something I focus on with all my clients as a route to greater self-awareness and clear direction.
During the discussion about values, he said something that really stuck with me. He asked, "If a private detective has been following you around every day for the last 2 months, what conclusions would they come to about what is important to you?"
This question cuts through all the excuses and self-sabotage and just looks at the facts. It asks you to examine your life values from an outsider's perspective and draw conclusions based on their perceptions of your words and behaviours.
They might analyse how use your time, what you do and say, how you treat yourself and others and consider whether you really do live in alignment with your values.
If you applied this exercise to your life, and write the detectives report, would you come to the conclusion that you are in alignment with your values?
Dr Chatterjee then took this one step further and said, "On your death bed, when you reflect back on your life, what three things would you like to have achieved?"
Now you may be feeling a bit uncomfortable thinking about this aspect of life, but it is an important exercise in understanding and self-awareness, so try to stick with it. After all, if you aren't aware of your big life goals and values until the end, there may be no time left to achieve them.
It might also help to know that from palliative care nurse reports, we know that the regrets of the dying usually take one of the following five forms:
I wish I'd worked less
I wish I'd spent more time with family and friends
I wish I'd allowed myself to be happy
I wish I'd lived my life, rather than the life expected of me
I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings
Unsurprisingly, people rarely say, "I wish I'd spent more time at the office," or, "I wish I'd spent more time cleaning," or, "I wish I'd spent more time mindlessly scrolling social media and watching TV."
Have you ever stopped to consider what you want to have achieved in your life time?
The great thing about increasing self-awareness in this area, is that it allows you to reflect, plan and take positive action.
So, looking at the 'detective's report' and the death bed wish, are you on track to fulfil your life goals?
Are your daily words and actions moving you closer to your dreams? Do they demonstrate and uphold your core personal values?
If not, what three things could you do this week to move you closer to where you want to be?
I love working on these kinds of big life questions with my clients. My professional and executive clients tell me that knowing their life goals and what is important to them helps them achieve clarity, identify a path that works for them, create balance and build better boundaries. This allows them to achieve success without sacrificing their happiness and wellbeing.
To stay up-to-date with my blog posts and find out how you can use positive psychology and coaching psychology in your daily life, sign up for my weekly newsletter using the button below.