“I stare off into space for a minute. ‘I just wish my life would go back to the way it was.’
‘Because I was happy then. Things weren’t perfect, but still, I knew where I fit. I knew where I was going.’
‘And you don’t feel that way anymore?’
‘No. I feel kind of…lost in the middle of my own life, if that makes any sense.’”
― Catherine McKenzie, Forgotten
“Lost in the middle of my own life.” Wow. I came across that quote this week and thought it captured very well the feeling generated by anomie, the state of being unmoored, of discovering your foundations have eroded, of feeling a little lost.
To catch up on my musings on anomie please check out my previous posts here.
Last week I began to think more deeply about solutions…ways to go about re-anchoring ourselves:
- I will be anchored as I do the hard work of determining my core values.
- I will be anchored as I identify my tribe, the community that loves and believes in me.
- I will be anchored as I clarify my purpose in life, the calling that moves me from acquisition to contribution.
Determining your core values is a crucial step in moving out of that feeling of lostness. Have you ever done this? Yeah, it’s really not easy, but it is worth it!
What are your beliefs that help you know the difference between right and wrong?
What is your internal compass of principles that drive your life?
What standards motivate your decisions and behavior?
What values define your success and well-being?
Core values arise out of…
- Your life story (the wonders and the tragedies)
- The people who have influenced you (good guys and bad guys)
- Your personality
- Your learning (formal and informal)
So, let’s do this! Here are some detailed diagnostic questions that can act as a framework for capturing your core values. And yes, this is certainly not an exhaustive list.
What do I believe about life? What makes an extraordinary life? Where does happiness come from? What gives me joy? Where does hope come from? What makes a successful life? What do I believe about wealth and money?
What do I believe about God and faith? Am I agnostic, atheist, theist, or simply spiritual? If I am a theist, is God engaged or distant? If I am a theist, what do I believe are God’s purposes for me and the world? What do I believe about the afterlife? What do I believe about my religion’s holy books? Are faith and spirituality private or corporate? What do I believe about spiritual community? (church/synagogue/mosque/etc.)
What do I believe about people? What do I believe about love and relationships? Are people inherently good or not? Are people for me or against me? Who are the people I admire and why? How should people interact with each other?
What do I believe about myself? Do I have inherent worth? Do I have potential? Am I am flawed but in process? Do I have skills that others need? Am I trustworthy? Am I wanted and needed?
What do I believe about morality and ethics? What is true? What is right and what is wrong?
What do I believe about the physical world?
What do I believe about work?
What do I believe about family?
That’s a lot.
A couple of suggestions. Don’t try to knock this out in one sitting. Take your time and come back to it. Give yourself some space and grace to think deeply. Consider doing this with a loved one. Imagine the revelations!
Identifying each core value is like laying another brick in the foundation of your existence. Life may not yet, or ever, feel perfect but you will indeed begin to know “where you fit and where you are going.”