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June 2020

March 2021

Four Reasons You're Living an Inauthentic Life (and How to Fix Them for Authentic Living)

Our core values are things we hold deeply. To live an authentic life, our actions, decisions and investments must be aligned with those values. Otherwise, we live inauthentically--and wonder why we feel a lack of purpose or personal meaning.

Black Mask smallerMany are out of alignment with their true values because:

  1. They never stopped to identify them (if you don't know your values, you can't live in alignment with them)
  2. They're living according to someone else's values (parents, teachers, peers, culture, religion, media)
  3. They've outgrown past values (yep, your values can--and do--change!)
  4. They've deemed some of their true values as frivolous, embarrassing or immoral

Have you took the time to consider a host of values so you can drill down to figure out yours? My free list of values for you to explore will help you determine your core values. Click here to grab it from DropBox. 

Do any of the values on the list make your blood boil? Stirs your heart? Makes you wish the world would change to reflect? These are important clues as to what you really, truly value.

When examining the list and narrowing down potential values, ask yourself: "Is this really my value? Or is it one my religion says I should have? Did I pick this up from the media as something trendy or important--or perhaps this is a value my Mom, Dad, favorite teacher or culture holds dear?"

Believe it or not, your values can change. What you value at age 20 may not be what you value at age 50. As you change, your values may change. This could be because of a life-altering event such as serious illness, natural catastrophe, accident, loss of a loved one or a pandemic. Or, on the happier end, a joyful marriage, new baby, job promotion, spiritual epiphany or positive lifestyle changes.

Lastly, some people discount a deeply held value because they're embarrassed about it. Perhaps a religious tradition deemed certain values "bad" or "immoral"--like Wealth, Achievement, Fame or even Beauty. But no value on the list I provided is "bad" or "good"; they're all neutral. If you have a core value, you can't just say "Well, I don't value that" when, in fact, you do hold it dear. 

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Ignoring or sublimating it will just make you miserable--and you'll likely act and choose according to your value anyway, even if subconsciously. Your inner critic will then likely eat at you, shaming you for pursuing that value (let alone think about it). 

So it's time to come clean. Figure out your deeply held values. 

Your values. No one else's.

Then, start making choices--and spending time and money--on those values.

That is what authenticity is: living according to your core values. 

What about you, dear reader? Care to share your values? Need help discerning what your core values are? Noticing values you thought were yours--but aren't? Weigh in down below in the comments!

P.S. If you truly detest one of your core values, then you can always drill even deeper and ask yourself why that value is important to you. This is one of the things I can help with as a Life Purpose Coach.


Crafting a Life Purpose Icon

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Life purpose is a choice rather than an experience. It’s something we decide about life.” – Dr. Eric Maisel

Just coming off the Christmas/Yule holiday, many have watched the perennial favorite It’s a Wonderful Life

But, what if you’re not aiming for a wonderful life but, rather, a meaningful one?

For years, I’ve been a big fan of psychologist and creativity coach Dr. Eric Maisel. His books The Van Gogh Blues, Affirmations for Artists and Toxic Criticism are unparalleled.

But the book penned by him that I’ve found the most helpful has been Life Purpose Boot Camp: The 8-Week Breakthrough Plan for Creating a Meaningful Life. If you’ve ever struggled with existential angst—particularly questions of personal meaning, and especially if you’re a creative of any type—I feel you’d benefit greatly from this book (I know I have).

In the Myers-Briggs typology, the profiles most likely to experience this kind of angst are NFs (iNtuitive Feelers). The combination of the imaginative, idealistic and OMG-all-the-potential! of the iNtuitve persuasion coupled with Feeling’s subjectivity and relativism is a brew that flails, quests, gropes and/or gnashes the teeth in the search for meaning.

You can watch a brief interview about how to articulate life purpose below:

The interviewer asks Dr. Maisel for some examples of life purposes. He offered these:

  • Activism
  • Service
  • Strong Relationships
  • Creativity
  • Doing the Next “Right” Thing (Living According to One’s Principles)
  • Making Value-Based Meaning

It can be in “menu” form (listing what’s important to you)—or in crafting statements that encompass several things (incorporating values from your “menu” of life purposes).

And, what we find meaningful five years ago (or even last year) may not be all that meaningful this year.

As we change, so do our values, priorities and—yes—our life purposes.

Dr. Maisel goes on to stress that the most important component to meaningful living is to orient yourself, each day, towards your life purpose.

In the interview—and in Week 7 of the book—he explains how to create what he calls a Life Purpose Icon—a tangible image (or symbol) that captures your life purpose choices.

Just a universal symbols like a cross, Star of David or pentagram evoke great significance and associations for some religious folks, a personal symbol can also become a strong icon anchoring us in our deepest values—as well as a motif leading us to our best selves and a life full of meaning. (I just got an image of Batman’s Bat Signal glowing in the sky… Ha!).

So taking Dr. Maisel’s examples from the interview, how might we distill those life purposes into icons? Well, it will be personal, of course. But here are some symbols that I’ve brainstormed:

Activism – A symbol hinting at the type of activism, perhaps? Social justice may be Scales. Environmentalism might be a Tree. Animal rights could be a favorite furry, scaled or feathered creature. Non-violent resistance could be a peace sign. Some health advocates associate colors with particular diseases they’d like raise awareness for (e.g. pink for breast cancer, purple for Alzheimer’s, red for AIDS, multi-color puzzle piece of Autism, etc.).

Service – An outstretched hand? Connecting hands? A wrench?

Strong Relationships – A chain? Two tethered hearts? Stick people in a circle?

Creativity – Painter’s palette? Quill pen? Musical notes? Light bulb?

Doing the Next “Right” Thing (Living According to One’s Principles) – Exclamation mark? Check mark? Asterisk? Justice or Judgement Tarot card?

Obviously, there’s no wrong way to create a Life Purpose Icon because it’s personal—whatever is meaningful to you.

In this vein, choosing a Word of the Year (or three words) is another way to focus on what truly matters to you. Over at Inc.com, Megy Karydes shares her 5 Tips on Crafting an Inspirational Mantra (that you can use all year long).  For some, this method is more goal-oriented rather than meaning-oriented—but you can still use it to distill your chosen life purposes.

At qz.com, Rose Spinks encourages us NOT to make New Year’s Resolutions (she calls them a “scam”) but, instead, create what she calls a Life Thesis. I love how she sums up her article:

As it turns out, when you take away expectations and shame and pressure, humans tend to be rather intelligent about choosing what’s good for them. Chances are, if you craft a thesis that truly honors what you want your life to look like, your daily habits and actions will align to create that life, too. It’ll feel less like a moving target, and more like finding your center of gravity.

After seeing three Tarot books published in 2018 (!)—five full-length books in the last ten years—I feel a drawing towards process. I’m moving away from words and mandates like “productivity”, “publicity”, “sales”, “accomplishment”, “professional” and “business”. In fact, as I was talking earlier this evening to my husband (about, what else…meaning!—especially in terms of art), I uttered the phrase No End In Mind.

That is, play. Creativity for creativity’s sake. Enjoying the journey without a destination.

You don’t see a 3-year-old ponder self-worth, artistic prowess or marketability, right?

My values are changing. Have changed.

And so are some of my Life Purposes.

I’ll make some icons to reflect those—as touchstones for the upcoming year. Reminders of where I’m at now (not where I was, or even where I think I want to be).

What about you, dear Reader? Have you pondered your Life Purposes lately? Made choices as to what they are? Or even created icons, symbols or talismans to reflect those Life Purposes? Do share in the comments below!

-- Janet