Episode 78: [The Three M’s] Meaning: It’s More than Just Values

While it’s important to identify and describe our values, we can’t stop there. Today I’m sharing the four common mistakes we make when it comes to exploring meaning in our lives and how you can avoid them.
Meaning it's more than just values

78: [The Three M's] Meaning: It's More than Just Values

There's way more to the concept of meaning than just knowing what your values are In my book, ACT On Your Business, I wrote about the Three M's (meaning, mindset, and mindfulness) as the pillars around which you can build a profitable, sustainable business and a joyful, fulfilling life.

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Show Notes

There’s way more to the concept of meaning than just knowing what your values are.

In my book, ACT On Your Business, I wrote about the Three M’s (meaning, mindset, and mindfulness) as the pillars around which you can build a profitable, sustainable business and a joyful, fulfilling life.

Last week, we dove into the first of The Three M’s, mindfulness, and for part two of this series, we’re exploring the concept of meaning in our lives.

In my book and in past podcast episodes, I’ve spent a lot of time identifying and describing our values. While this is important information that we need to have when we are exploring meaning, we can't stop there.

In this episode, I’m sharing the four common mistakes I see when it comes to exploring meaning in our lives and how you can avoid them.

Topics covered

  • It’s never too late for you to make a fresh start
  • Determining what matters
  • Why doing a values review is helpful
  • Connecting your values with your actions
  • How to incorporate your values into your decision-making process
  • Thinking about your behaviors as an expression of who you are

Resources mentioned

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Well, hello, my friend. Welcome to the Coach with Clarity Podcast. My name is Lee Chaix McDonough, and I hope you had a wonderful weekend if you are tuning in when this episode drops on Monday. And if you're listening a little later on, well I hope you're having a great week. I am having a wonderful week, and I may have alluded to this in last week's episode. I don't know, there was just something about this summer, where I tell you my energy was just slow. And maybe that was simply a sign that I needed to slow down, that the summer was not a time for me to take a lot of action. Perhaps it was meant to be a period of restoration, and of reflection, which it definitely was. But there was something about the end of August and now being in the heart of September, where I am just feeling all of the good energy. There is so much momentum. It makes me think about a conversation that I had this week with a client of mine. And she referenced a phrase that I originally heard the author and podcaster Gretchen Rubin share. And Gretchen Rubin talks about how September is the new January. And a lot of us look at January as a time to make new resolutions, to create new goals, and plans. And yet for many of us, September is a natural time of year to do so. For many of us, September always marked the back to school season. And for those of us who have school aged children, we are still in the throes of back to school, although this time in the parent role. And so there's always been something about September that has signaled a fresh start. And I love this idea of September being the time where we can have our day one, where we can start over, where we can start fresh, and where we can set goals for ourselves for the next week, month, year, whatever you choose. So if that resonates with you, let's really embrace this energy of September as being a time of new beginnings. And even though it's not September 1st, if you're listening to this podcast the day it drops, it's September 13th, it's never too late to begin. You don't have to wait for the first of the month, you don't have to wait for a Monday, you don't have to wait for the first of the year in order to decide that you are making a fresh start. Today, September 13th, can be your day one if you choose. And that connects beautifully with what we're going to be talking about today. Today is a continuation of The Three M's mini series. So as I've mentioned before, a couple years ago, I wrote a book called, “ACT on Your Business, Braving the Storms of Entrepreneurship and Creating Success through Meaning, Mindset, and Mindfulness. I call those The Three M's  , and they are the three pillars around which you can build a profitable, sustainable business, and a joyful, fulfilling life. 

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So last week, we dove into mindfulness, and specifically how mindfulness is more than just meditation. Today, we are going to dive into meaning, and how it's more than just values. Now if you have a copy of my book, you know that within the chapters devoted to meaning, we talk a lot about values. And by the way, if you don't have the book, maybe consider picking up a copy. You can go to CoachwithClarity.com/getthebook, and that will redirect you to the Amazon page where you can get it as a paperback or for your Kindle. So head on over to CoachwithClarity.com/getthebook and get your copy today. I think if you enjoy this podcast and you enjoy our discussions around The Three M's  , you are going to absolutely love this book. And in the book, I start off by exploring meaning. And the very first process that we explore is what I call, “Determine What Matters”. And that's my way of rephrasing what in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ACT is traditionally called values. When we are working with values, whether we are doing our own personal values work, or when we're working with our coaching clients and helping them explore their values, we want to start by identifying and clarifying what matters most to us. We are determining what matters. And in past podcast episodes, and certainly in the book, I spend a lot of time talking about what values are, what they aren't, how we can identify and describe them. And this is really important fundamental information that we need to have when we are exploring meaning. But we can't just stop there. There is way more to the concept of meaning than just knowing what your values are. And in fact, I see four common mistakes when it comes to exploring meaning in our lives. 
The first mistake I see is a tendency to treat values work as a one-and-done event. So let's say we've read all the books, or we've worked with a coach, or we've done all of the exploratory work, and we've defined our values for ourselves. Awesome, I'm so glad that you are clear on what matters most to you. And while some of those values will stay consistent over time, some of them may change, maybe the value itself changes or the way we express that value changes. And that makes sense because we change over time, we evolve. And so, why wouldn't our values also evolve with us? But if we don't take the time to revisit them, and to ask how our experiences, and expertise, our relationships, our growth, influences our value system, then we're missing out. That's why I typically recommend revisiting your values as part of an annual review process. Now, we've talked a lot on this podcast about planning your ideal year, and I always start with a values review. Now, if this is a new concept for you, or if it's a new concept for your clients, it won't necessarily be a values review, it may be an initial values identification. But for clients, or for yourself if you've already done the values work, this is a time to revisit those value statements that we've created to ensure that they still represent who we are and how we want to show up in the world today. You may find that those values stay the same, that there's a general level of consistency there. Or you may find that what once resonated strongly with you, no longer holds the same weight. And it doesn't mean it's not important, or that it's not important to you. But perhaps there have been some shifts, or perhaps you've had some new learnings or new experiences, and a new value carries more weight. Let's give that it's due, let's really take the time to reflect on what matters most to us, and how that influences our actions. And that takes me to the second mistake I see people making, which is not directly linking their values to their actions. So, I think it's wonderful that a lot of businesses and entrepreneurs are listing their values on their website. In fact, I do the same. If you go to CoachwithClarity.com/values, you will see the vision and mission statement for Coach with Clarity, and the four core values that guide our work. But what often happens is that we put our values out there and we say, “This is what I stand for”, and then we don't directly link those values with the actions we are taking. And don't get me wrong, we're not doing this out of maliciousness or outright negligence. It's really more that we just get caught up by the day-to-day obligations of running a business or living a life. And when we're under a lot of stress, when our calendars are full, when we don't have a lot of time or space to reflect, we resort to our default state. And we take action from our default state. And oftentimes, that looks like just getting by, just getting through, just getting it done, versus taking intentional action rooted in our values. I am just as guilty of that as anyone else, so I'm preaching to myself as much as I am to you. But the mistake that we make is that we allow that default tendency to inform the actions we take, rather than taking an intentional approach that's connected with our values. And in the book, that's what the second process of, “Make it so”, is all about. We take a deep dive into creating strategies and plans for your business, and for your life, that are deeply connected with your values. So you know that any action you're taking, any behavior you're engaging in, it's going to be consistent with what matters most to you. So if I were going to give myself a little tough love about this, I would say to myself, “Lee, stop paying lip service to your values. It's one thing to say that something matters to you, it's quite another to demonstrate that through your actions”. And so that's the second mistake I see many people make, including myself, is that we resort to our default tendencies and we're not directly connecting our values with our actions. That is a critical part of creating meaning in our lives. Because when our actions are anchored in our values, then we find a level of depth and fulfillment in what we do, versus when we're just on autopilot and allowing that default tendency to take the lead. This relates to the third mistake I see people making as well when it comes to values. And that is not allowing values to inform their decision making process. So this is connected to taking action. Of course, anytime we make a decision, it's going to influence an action that we take or don't take. But I like to view decision making as something different. Because again, we make hundreds, if not thousands of decisions every day. Some of them are automatic, some of them are default. And some of them require more time, thought, and intentionality. And when we're faced with that type of decision that requires a great deal of thought and deliberation, what I notice is that my clients tend to want to reduce pain or reduce discomfort. And that tends to be the overriding factor when reaching a decision. And that makes sense. I mean, obviously, as humans, we are hardwired to want to avoid pain, and to find pleasure. There's nothing wrong with that. But when avoiding discomfort becomes the primary factor in our decision making process, than if we're not careful, those decisions can actually take us further away from living out our values. Because the truth is, it's not always easy to live out our values, it's not always comfortable. Sometimes it means making hard, difficult decisions that in the short term don't necessarily feel that great. But in the long term, we know that it's going to be consistent with how we want to live our lives. Part of living out this “m” of meaning, means going back to what matters most to you when you are making those difficult decisions, and allowing them to be your compass. Sometimes that means willingly taking on some short term discomfort in the interest of fully living into our values. And although this is not one of the values that I currently list on my website, I have found over the last year that the value of integrity has become more pronounced in my business, in my life. Now, that doesn't mean I haven't been living with integrity, or that it hasn't always been important to me, but it just didn't quite make that top four list. And so when I do my annual review later on this year, I may consider whether integrity needs to be explicitly stated along with, or maybe in lieu of, one of my four core values. So when I use integrity, as the lens through which I'm looking at my decisions, a lot of things become much more clear. And a lot of decisions become a lot more painful. It is not always that easy to make decisions from a place where integrity comes first. Oftentimes, it's easier, even more profitable, to make decisions that are not necessarily anchored in integrity. And if minimizing discomfort were my priority, then I might make that decision that is out of alignment with my integrity, but gets me what I need in the short term. And so in the short term that might feel really good, and there may be some gains there. But in the long term, how is that going to serve me? And even in the short term, how am I going to feel about myself knowing that I've made this decision that's out of alignment with my values? So that's why it's so important that we not just know our values, and it's not simply about letting them inform our actions, but we need to even go a step earlier. We need to create a process that allows us to incorporate our values in our decision making process. And we need to make that explicit, so that anytime we are about to make a major decision one of the first questions we ask ourselves is, “How do my values inform this decision? What would it look like to make a decision if I looked at this situation through the lens of this particular value?”. When that becomes a natural part of our decision making process, then we are fully embodying this idea of meaning, and of living a life that's grounded in meaning. I've already talked about three of the four common mistakes I see when it comes to meaning. Number one is not revisiting your values on a regular basis. Number two is not directly linking your values with your actions. Number three is not referencing your values when you're making big decisions. And now I want to talk about the fourth and final mistake that I see people make quite a bit. And this is where we get to the title of today's episode, which is, “Meaning, it's more than just values”. Meaning is also about your purpose. Now I recognize when we think about, “What's my purpose?”, that feels like a weighty question. And it is, it is important, I don't mean to minimize that. And it doesn't have to be hard. Really, when I think about my purpose, this is the intersection of my values, and my actions, and my beliefs, and my decisions. Purpose is the culmination of all of that. It is the intersection of who I am and what I do. Those two elements together describe my purpose. Sometimes this is a tricky concept for me, because I also strongly believed that you are more than what you do, you are more than your output, you are more than your productivity, you are inherently worthy, simply because you are who you are. Worthiness is your birthright, just as it is mine. So you don't have to do anything to prove your worth. And yet, while we are human beings, we are also active creatures, we take action. And those actions reflect back to who we are. That's why I find it helpful to think about my actions and my behavior as an expression of who I am, rather than an extension of who I am. So if I think about my actions defining who I am, that feels a little too close. That's the extension of me. What I do determines who I am. But when my actions are an expression of who I am, then they're born from my values and my purpose. And I can put them out in the world and then detach from them, and not let them define who I am or how worthy I am. So that's where this idea of purpose comes in, of knowing what your role is in the world, how you want to make a contribution to your own life, the lives of those around you, and to the world, and how we can do so in a way that is an expression of our deepest values without it dictating our worth or our worthiness. And that's why I believe that meaning is more than just about values. It also has to include how we view our purpose. And with that, let's head into this week's Clarity in Action moment. 
This week's Clarity in Action moment is brought to you by the Coach with Clarity Membership. Now, if you are a frequent podcast listener, you have definitely heard me talk about the membership before. And I absolutely love this membership. And I love every single one of my members. They are extraordinarily intuitive, insightful, intelligent coaches, and it is my privilege to get to show up and serve them every single week. And I do get to serve them every single week, because every month we have four live coaching calls: a co-working session, a Q&A call, a guest expert training, and hotseat coaching. And in addition to those calls, members also have access to the Coach with Clarity Toolkit, which is a robust collection of templates, and guides, and courses, and materials designed to help you build, grow, and scale your coaching practice. And the best part about the membership is the sense of community that you'll find when you join. Because all of a sudden, you're not alone. Being an entrepreneur and running your own coaching practice can feel lonely sometimes. But it doesn't have to be, because in the Coach with Clarity Membership, you're never alone. You're constantly supported by other coaches, who like you, are building their businesses and doing so from a place of service, integrity, and connection. And for the first time ever, the doors to the Coach with Clarity Membership will be closing at the end of September 2021 for the remainder of the year. That's because we are going to be giving the Coach with Clarity Membership a little bit of a makeover. We are going to be restructuring the member portal so that the materials are easier for members to access. We are going to be revising and refining some of the templates and guides that are available, and we're just going to be zhuzhing things up a little bit. So in order to do that, we will be closing enrollment for the membership for the fourth quarter of 2021. And when we come back, when we reopen the doors in 2022, the price will increase accordingly. So, if you have been thinking about joining the Coach with Clarity Membership, this month, September 2021, is the best time to do so. Because you will lock in the current rates, you'll have immediate access to everything that's already in the membership, and you will have first access to all of the newly created and newly revised material that I will be working on during the fourth quarter of the year. So do not wait, head on over to CoachwithClarity.com/membership to join today and lock in your 2021 rates for as long as you remain an active member. I can't wait to welcome you into the Coach with Clarity membership. So again, head on over to CoachwithClarity.com/membership and join today. 
For this week's Clarity in Action moment, I invite you to reflect on the four common mistakes I referenced when it comes to living a life of meaning. And again, the first is not revisiting your values. The second is not directly linking them with your actions. The third is not referencing them when making decisions. And the fourth is not connecting everything with your greater purpose. When you hear me reflect back on those four common mistakes, I'm curious if there's one in particular that calls out to you. That's inviting you to take another look to do some deeper exploration. And if so, this is a time where I would love for you to break out your journal and your favorite pen, or maybe it's your iPad with your Goodnotes app and your Apple Pencil, that's what it is for me. And I want you to just set a timer for five minutes and reflect on what shift you would like to make so that you feel more in line with your sense of meaning. So for example, if the one that's calling out to you is not always connecting your values with your decisions, maybe you'll want a journal around what a values based decision making process would look like for you. Is there a question that you want to formulate, that you ask yourself anytime you're making a big decision? Is there a statement or a mantra that you want to repeat as you're making a decision that will anchor yourself to your values? I'm so curious what that might look like for you. And I'm going to encourage you as you are journaling or writing things down, or if you're more of an auditory processor, feel free to open the voice memo app on your phone and just speak it out into existence as well. That is perfectly acceptable. But allow yourself time to really sit with this question and to explore. I don't know if this happens to you, but I find that when I am working through something, I have to give myself a period of time, whether I'm speaking or writing, to just get all the crap out. And on the other side of the crap is the good idea. So stay with this, give yourself some time, the gift of time to really do this, and explore what comes up for you around this. And if there are any insights or aha moments that you'd like to share, I hope you will feel free to do so. You can come find me over on Instagram @CoachwithClarity, and let me know what this week's episode inspired in you. I also hope you'll join me for next week's episode, where we are going to take a look at the third and final “m” in this mini series. And we're going to look at mindset, and how it's more than just thinking. It's going to be a great episode. I may have a hot take or two to share with you. I think it's going to be a great episode, so be sure to tune in. If you are already following or subscribing to the Coach with Clarity Podcast, then that episode is going to show up in your feed automatically when it drops on Monday, September 20th. If you are not already following the Coach with Clarity Podcast, I hope you'll decide to do so. If you're using a podcast player right now to listen to this episode, whether it's Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, you name it, there should be an option to follow or subscribe to the show. So go ahead, click that button. And then you will never miss another episode of the Coach with Clarity Podcast moving forward, it will automatically download right into your feed. If you're already following the show, thank you so much. That means the world to me. And I would be so grateful if you would share the show. Whoo, say that five times fast. That's a tough one, share the show. But if you would share the Coach with Clarity Podcast with someone you think would enjoy it, that would mean the world to me. Because that is the best way to grow a community of intuitive, innovative coaches, coming together to create a better world, one coach, one client at a time. My friends, this has been so much fun. Thank you for joining me. I'm looking forward to connecting with you again next week. Until then, my name is Lee Chaix McDonough, reminding you to get out there and show the world what it means to be a Coach with Clarity.

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