“Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance.”
“Your life changes the moment you make a new, congruent, and committed decision.”
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
Change your values and you will change your life.
Your core values, or singularities, are the center blocks of your life. Imagine that your life is one giant Rubik’s Cube. In order to experience ultimate achievement and fulfillment you have to reorder and align all of the cube’s colored blocks. Any Rubik’s Cube connoisseur will tell you that the most efficient and effective way to solve the puzzle is to set one block of any color in the center of one side of the cube and keep it there. This is your focal point. From there, the goal is to manipulate and reorder that same side of the cube until every block matches the color of the block you set in the center. To solve the puzzle, repeat this sequence for all six sides of the cube. Similarly, centering your singularities is the first step to aligning all the blocks of your life. The only difference is that your blocks will align themselves automatically once your singularities are set. Once aligned, everything you do will help you improve self-confidence and generate momentum towards your goals.
Don’t be afraid to let go of your old singularities. In my previous post, I showed you how to determine your current singularities, which are the core values currently guiding your life. These singularities are what got you to where you are today. They are exactly what you needed to achieve your goals in the past. However, your current values, by themselves, will not get you to where you want to go in the future. In order to achieve a new goal and fulfill your new purpose in life, you need to change your life. And in order to change your life, you need to change your values. The problem is that most people have been guided by the same singularities for years and years. They are attached to their current values and to change even one of them would be like cutting off a body part. Some people identify so strongly with their current values that they knowingly sacrifice fulfilling their purpose in life to avoid dealing with the temporary pain of change. The truth is that periodically changing your values can increase happiness and bring you closer to achieving your goals.
Identify Your Current Singularities
Last year, I went through the process of determining the 6 singularities currently guiding my life. After a lot of self-reflection, which included digging into strengths I valued in myself and in others, I made a list of my singularities. Here is the list:
Putting my values down on paper was not easy. In fact, it was painful. I didn’t like some of the items on my list and I was downright embarrassed by others. But I was determined to be completely honest with myself. I cannot begin to describe the level of clarity and insight I achieved by making the above list. Suddenly, I was able to see why I did the things that I did. I finally understood the drivers behind the decisions and actions that were shaping my life.
First, it was obvious that I placed a high level of importance on independence and freedom. This singularity served me well during my years of wrestling in high school and college, as well as during my years in Graduate school. Both of these pursuits required extraordinary amounts of self-reliance and self-initiative. The problem was that I had begun to rely only on myself to get things done. I would often find myself trying to control everything in my life in hopes of gaining more independence and more freedom. This of course had the opposite effect and led to me being closed off and less free. If I wanted to increase happiness and achieve my new goals of being a successful author, speaker, and entrepreneur, I would have to replace this singularity with something that valued connection, relationships, and trust.
Second, I came to the conclusion that I would have to replace “toughness” with a new singularity. For a long time I considered my ability to be tough, or my ability to not let my emotions influence me, to be one of my biggest strengths. My biggest fear was letting my own internal influences get the better of me. This served me well after high school when I left my family and friends in Spokane, WA to attend college 3,000 miles away in Pennsylvania. Being tough allowed me to adapt to the harshness and competitiveness of the East Coast. This mentality also served me well as a scientist in Graduate school. I was able to be more objective and rational in my studies. However, being tough often closed me off from opportunities and from other people. In order to fulfill my new purpose of living, I would have to value openness, vulnerability, and authenticity. I would also have to place a higher value on self-awareness and strategy. This would help me develop leadership skills and generate influence.
Three of the singularities on my old list added energy to one another and became a very powerful force in my life. My desire for success, recognition, and image used to dominate the majority of my decisions and actions. Every day, all day long, I would ask myself, “How can I get ahead?” This question served me my entire life and is what took me from sleeping on floors and eating in soup kitchens as a kid in rural Idaho to getting my doctorate and traveling the world within the realm of business and entrepreneurship. I had an insatiable drive to grow in my finances, in my education, in my social status, in my health, and in my personal development. Unfortunately, there were times when I failed to reign in these desires, becoming too obsessed with achieving success, getting approval, and looking good. I also failed to define exactly what success looked like to me. I needed better achievement-oriented values. I needed values that would focus me on contributing, advancing a meaningful purpose, and leaving a legacy. Valuing success, recognition, and image helped me get to my current position, but these singularities were not going to get me to my future position.
Set New Singularities To Guide Your Life
The first and most important singularity that I added to my new list was “presence”. Without having presence of mind, without self-awareness, and without being able to live in the moment, I would not be able to enjoy any of my pursuits. I would also not be able to see all of the opportunities around me, which is critical to achieving any goal. Second, I added both “openness” and “relationships” to my list. If I wanted to be an effective speaker and writer, I would have to learn to be uncomfortably vulnerable, transparent, and authentic. Valuing openness would help me really connect with my audience and readers. And valuing relationships would help me build lasting connections that would add meaning to my life and the lives of others.
I also added “contribution” to the list, which was my way of redefining success and achievement. With contribution as one of my singularities, I would stop asking, “How can I get ahead?” and start asking, “How can I add value?,” “How can I develop others?,” and “How can I enjoy life?” Valuing contribution would help me stay focused on building, creating, giving, and leaving a legacy. Finally, I added “strategy” to my list. Strategy, for me, meant staying focused on my long-term goals instead of being consumed with short-term problems. It meant being a strategist consumed with purpose, rather than a tactician consumed with instant gratification. With strategy as a singularity, I would be more intelligent, patient, and wise. Most importantly, I would stop engaging in battles that did not matter. Here is my new list:
Notice that while many of my singularities changed, “vitality” stayed exactly the same. I firmly believe that vitality should be at the top of everyone’s list. Your purpose of living may be important, but its useless to you and you’re useless to it if you’re not at your best physically and mentally. Of course, you can leave a legacy and advance your purpose even from the grave, but while you’re here on earth, the healthier you are, the more effective you are.
You never lose your strengths. Achieving your goal and fulfilling your purpose in life requires you to change your singularities and develop new strengths. However, your old singularities and your old strengths will always be at your disposal. Instead of feeling like you are losing your current strengths, realize that you are merely adding new strengths to your repertoire. The key to creating a new set of singularities is understanding that the words you choose to define your values will control your destiny. Find words that fill you with energy and give you direction towards the person you want to become. Choose singularities that will have the biggest impact on your decisions and actions. In this way, you will be able to align your current life with your new purpose of living. In my next post, I will show you how you can use your new values to change the story of your life.