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Defining Yourself

Isn’t it interesting that basically our entire lives before college are all planned out for us and then after college, we are just supposed to figure it all out for ourselves? We go to elementary school, then to middle school and high school, then to college, and then you have your degree in hand, but then what? There is no definite answer. 

Life after college is so different from what we’re used to. Instead of filling the bulk of time attending class and completing homework, we are spending at least 40 hours a week at work. After our long work day has ended, we suddenly have this free time where we don’t actually have to study (or at least feel guilty for lack thereof). Now we have to be intentional with how we spend this time because this time is the rest of our lives.

So, you might start to ponder…

You have been given a clean slate. You can make any life you want for yourself. You will eventually start thinking of all the decisions you have to make on how you want your life to pan out. Where do you want to go from here? What career do you want to pursue? What is your purpose? What friends are you going to keep in touch with? What kind of partner do you want to share your life with? Where in this large world do you want to live? What kind of dog are you going to get? 😉

Okay, so maybe we don’t have to make all of these decisions right away, but it is fun to think about, right? When I finished college there was a sense of excitement that I was finally able to start my life, but along with that came being overwhelmed with where to start. I recently met with my mentor to discuss my concerns and she asked me to start at the root of who I want to be. She asked me to list my top five values. I thought of the obvious ones like family and health, but the remaining ones stumped me. I realized I have never really taken the time to think about it. My mentor explained to me that it is important to define my core values so that I am able to ensure my goals and actions are aligning accordingly.

I went to my favorite coffee shop, ordered a cup of peppermint tea, plugged in my headphones, and tried to clear my mind of the irrelevant clutter. I thought about what traits are the most important to me and how I wanted to incorporate them into my life.

After researching value-setting, I learned you should not have more than 5 values, otherwise they are no longer considered a priority. Funny enough (starting from my original two), it seemed too hard to condense my values down to five, so I added a “Not values but still priorities” section.

My Core Values

Family & Friendships

Since graduating from college and moving away from friends and family, I have learned the importance of nurturing the close relationships you still have. Staying in touch when possible and letting them know you care. At the same time, it is important to make sure you are surrounding yourself with others that are supportive of your dreams and are encouraging you to be your best self.

Self-care

Your physical and mental health are so important. You cannot be successful in any of the other areas in your life if you are unhealthy and feeling emotionally unstable. Take time to learn about your body and your emotions. And then be proactive about taking care of them. My definition of self-care includes staying active, practicing gratitude, and maintaining independence.

  • Staying active: I sign up for a few half marathons a year to hold myself accountable. I also attend yoga classes on occasion.
  • Practicing Gratitude: Dude, it’s all about the mindset. Change your mindset and you will be so much happier. You have so many things to be grateful for that others would die for. Start practicing gratitude and you will find a new appreciation for life that you didn’t know was possible. Your practice could include writing down one thing a day that you are grateful for. For starters, you’re alive and reading this post, aren’t you? 😊
  • Independence: The feeling of independence is so freeing. I have struggled with this one in the past and I can tell you firsthand, it is not fun when your emotions are in someone else’s control. There is nothing wrong with leaning on someone for support occasionally, but at the end of the day, I want to know I can take care of myself emotionally & physically.

Y.O.L.O.

Experience new things. Get out of your comfort zone. Live life with no regrets. I recently did an exercise where I was required to do something new once a day. It can be the smallest change like taking a walk at lunch instead of sitting at your desk or taking a different route on your run. What kind of life are you living if your life is a routine?

Growth

Learn new things whenever you get the chance. Dave Hollis, husband of Rachel Hollis, once said, “If you are not growing, you’re dying.” There is no in between. For example, I want to be better at writing. You will absolutely find errors in my writing, but what better way to learn than to face it head-first?

Intention

Being intentional with your life will give you control of your ship and steer you in the right direction. Have you ever found yourself saying “where has the time gone?”, or “this year flew by.”? The busyness of life can get in the way and the essence of time may start seeming shorter and shorter. But if you take a couple times a day to take a breather and remind yourself why you are doing what you’re doing, you will notice time start to slow down.

Not “values” but still priorities

“Care less about what others think”

I really struggle with this one. This insecurity has held me back a lot in my years and I’m tired of giving the power to others. As Rachel Hollis likes to say, “Other people’s opinions of you are NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.” Stay in your lane and just focus on your path. Mediocrity holds back excellence. If people are criticizing you about the work you are doing, it is because they are insecure about themselves. Otherwise, they would be on your side cheering you on. (Is it just me, or I am starting to talk like Rachel Hollis?) Mediocre people hold back people striving for excellence. Think about that the next time you are holding back because of what other people say. I am publishing my writing to the public and this is a large reason why.

Frugal

I want to save money and not focus on the materialistic things in life. Right now, I am in student loan debt. Due to the fact that I loathe carrying the weight of debt, I still live like I am in college. Which means I still order off the dollar menu and try not to purchase unnecessary things. I plan to carry this mindset with me even beyond my debt years.

Minimal

As I mentioned, I do not want my life to be centered around materialistic things. Interaction with people is what makes me feel truly alive and full of joy. Now, I am not going to be the person that owns only the bare minimum, but I would like to have a purpose to everything I own. Mike Posner said it best, “Twice as much money, half the possessions”. That is #goals.

Now, you might have totally different values in life, which is also great! The wonderful thing about life is that we get to choose who we want to be and how we want to live. We all have different definitions of happiness. If you haven’t already physically written down your values, I think it would be a very beneficial activity to do and have them easily visible for daily inspiration. 

Once your values are set, you can really start to focus on your bigger life goals. I would love to dig into mine, but we’ll save those for a rainy day.


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